Steelers pass D rolling again with Harrison

Jason Bridge/US Presswire

The Steelers defense has improved significantly since James Harrison returned from injury.The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football (8:30 ET on ESPN) in a matchup featuring Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley going up against the Chiefs team he coached for two-plus seasons -- and which fired him last year.

The Steelers have won 14 straight home games on Monday Night Football, the longest streak in the history of the series. The last time they hosted a Monday night game was 2008. The last visiting team to win in Pittsburgh on MNF was the New York Giants on Oct. 14, 1991.


Quarterback Matt Cassel will start for the Chiefs with Brady Quinn out with a concussion. Cassel has been a turnover machine this season with 11 interceptions and seven fumbles lost. As a team, the Chiefs have 29 turnovers, the most by any team in its first eight games since the 1997 New Orleans Saints (coached by Mike Ditka) had 30.

Worst TO Differential Through 9 Games
Since 1970 Merger

The 1-7 Chiefs are also in danger of becoming the team with the worst turnover margin through nine games since the 1970 merger.

Amazingly, the Chiefs still have not held a lead during a game this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they are the first team to not hold a single lead in the first eight games of a season since the 1929 Buffalo Bisons, who folded at the end of that campaign. No team has ever gone through its first nine games without holding a lead.


After starting the season 2-3, the Steelers have reeled off three straight wins. The difference has been a defense that has held opponents to fewer than 200 yards passing in three consecutive games. And that has come with safety Troy Polamalu sidelined with a calf injury.

Steelers Defense with Harrison On/Off Field This Season

The Pittsburgh defense also has experienced a major turnaround since linebacker James Harrison returned from a knee injury. Since coming back in Week 5, Harrison has missed just one defensive snap.

Despite starting running back Rashard Mendenhall missing time with an Achilles injury, the Steelers still have been able to establish the run game, with Isaac Redman rushing for 147 yards last week and Jonathan Dwyer eclipsing the 100-yard mark in each of the previous two contests. At least part of their ground success can be attributed to improved offensive line play, as Steelers runners have been hit in the backfield on 12.1 percent of their runs over the last three games compared to 19.8 percent in the first five games.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin looks to continue his success on Monday nights. Tomlin is 6-1 on Monday Night Football, the best record among any coach with at least five games.