New Problem Same As The Old Problem

Greg Jennings all alone (AP photo)

Mike Prisuta points out that the Steelers' secondary could use some help before next season.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It wasn't so much what we learned in Super Bowl XLV as it was what was confirmed that should resonate.

The Steelers' defense isn't all that ferocious -- in fact it's downright vulnerable -- when facing an elite passing attack.

No defense is, really; passing attacks become elite by definition because they can get to anyone. And what the Packers unleashed against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV absolutely, positively qualifies as an elite, modern-day, you-can't-stop-this-you-can-only-hope-to-contain-it passing attack.

Did any of that look familiar?

We saw basically the same thing when the Steelers played New Orleans.

We see basically the same thing every time the Steelers play New England with Tom Brady.

You just can't sack the quarterback every time. And when the Steelers don't sack a Drew Brees, a Brady or, in this case Aaron Rodgers, bad things happen.

So what's the answer?

More often than not it'll be to outscore such an opponent.

The Steelers had a chance to do that in North Texas, they had a chance to steal the game as they had Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, but this time it didn't happen.

With Ben Roethlisberger they'll always have a chance. And as Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders continue to grow you have to like their chances to contend for more championships in subsequent seasons.

In the meantime, they need all the DBs they can get their hands on.

For a change Troy Polamalu wasn't able to dominate this postseason and you saw the results. The Ravens were a couple of dropped balls away from potentially beating the Steelers. And the Jets were one more offensive possession away from potentially beating the Steelers.

The Packers beat the Steelers because too often the Steelers couldn't stop the Packers.

Bryant McFadden battled as long as he could. So did William Gay, Anthony Madison and even Keenan Ivory Lewis. But when Ike Taylor is what passes for your shut-down cornerback you're going to surrender the occasional 300-yard game.

One of Dick LeBeau's counters to Rodgers and the Packers' pass-catchers was to remove Ryan Clark from the game on occasion against four-receiver sets. That should tell you a little something about what the Steelers think of Clark's ability to cover.

So should this familiar stat as it relates to the secondary in general:

Rodgers attempted 39 passes in Super Bowl XLV and the Steelers came up with one pass defensed.

Blame the turnovers if you prefer, but I blame that.

The Steelers have to find more guys who can play the ball, guys who can do more on a dry, fast track than play the coverage and be in position to make the play and then watch as a near-perfect throw beats them.

Guys such as that are hard to find; ask the 30 teams that weren't playing Sunday night.

And the guys the Steelers have had have been good enough to get them to three Super Bowls in the last six years.

But until the Steelers can upgrade the secondary they're going to have to continue to depend on Roethlisberger's knack for producing late-game magic and Polamalu's penchant for producing the superhuman, game-changing plays.

And as Super Bowl XLV reminded us, when those things don't happen the Steelers lose.

In the wake of the Steelers' 31-25 loss to Green Bay, Espn.com reported the following tweet from the Ravens' Donte Stallworth:

"Mike McCarthy spread the Steelers out on defense and look what happened! Take note play callers across the league."

The smart ones already knew what would happen.

It'll be up to the Steelers between now and Super Bowl XLVI to do what they can not to allow such a thing to happen again.

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