Steelers hope defense can bounce back

Updated: July 9, 2003, 10:33 AM ET
By By Darrell Trimble | NFL Insider
The Pittsburgh Steelers had the No.1 defense in football in 2001, and were only one game away from the Super Bowl. Going into last season, they had lost only one starter from that unit, linebacker Earl Holmes, and were confident that such continuity would help them make the next step in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, familiarity didn't breed success. The Steelers did return to the postseason but saw their defense become more porous than a spaghetti strainer. The Steelers were the 23rd ranked passing defense in the league last year, and they got worse in the playoffs.

In the Wild Card round, the Steelers gave up 447 yards of offense to the Cleveland Browns, who had backup Kelly Holcomb at the helm. They followed that up by allowing the Tennessee Titans to rack up 430 yards of offense in their Divisional round defeat. All told, they allowed 67 points in two games, despite holding William Green and Eddie George to only 63 yards on 40 carries.