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Devising An All-Steelers Defensive Team: A Look Through NFL History

If you tuned in for the All-Steelers Offensive Team in recent days, you saw the modern approach taken to fit today’s offense in the NFL. On this All-Steelers Defensive Team, the retro stars will get a bigger chance to shine. Some transcendent defensive talent, mixed with the stars we know and love today.

DT - Joe Greene (1969-1981)

A Steelers icon, Joe Greene currently sits fourth on the Steelers All-Time Sack leaders, tied with TJ Watt with 77.5 sacks. Mean Joe had a 13-year NFL career, all with the Steelers. He made the Pro Bowl 10 times, was an All-Pro four times, and won two Defensive Player of the Year awards to go with his four Super Bowl rings, solidifying him as a Steelers legend.

DT - Cam Heyward (2011-Present)

A current-day star for the Steelers since he was drafted in 2011, Cam Heyward continues to put together top-notch seasons as a Steeler. Killa Cam currently sits second on the Steelers All-Time Sack leaders, just two sacks behind first place. Heyward is a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. The only thing eluding him? A Lombardi trophy.

DE - L.C. Greenwood (1969-1981)

Another sack machine, L.C. Greenwood gathered 78 sacks, good enough for third on the Steelers All-Time Sack leaders, at least for now. Greenwood played all 13 of his NFL seasons as a Steeler and made the Pro Bowl six times along the way, also being named an All-Pro twice.

DE - Brett Keisel (2002-2014)

Brett Keisel was a mountain of a man who helped bring two Super Bowl parades back to the city of Pittsburgh. Although only being named to the Pro Bowl once in his 13-year career, he was a key part of those legendary Steelers teams. While he didn’t get as many sacks as the legends mentioned here, Keisel gathered 30 sacks and 408 total tackles in his career.

OLB - TJ Watt (2017-Present)

This selection shouldn’t need much explaining. TJ Watt is on his way to being a top-three defensive player in Steelers history. If all things go right, Watt will end this year as the Steelers franchise sack leader, as he currently sits tied for fourth with 77.5 sacks in just six seasons. He potentially would have broken the record last season if he hadn’t been injured and only played 10 games. Watt was the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year and has made five pro bowls in six years.

OLB - James Harrison (2002-2012, 2014-2017)

Although leaving to play for rival teams like the Bengals and Patriots, James Harrison still stands as a Steelers legend. Deebo currently is the All-Time leader in sacks for the Steelers with 80.5. Heyward and Watt will both likely pass him this year, but that speaks to the greatness of those two. Having Harrison and Watt getting after the quarterback both in their primes would be devastating to opposing offensive lines.

ILB - Jack Lambert (1974-1984)

Another Steelers Mount Rushmore player, Jack Lambert was an obvious selection. The nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro is the 10th All-Time for Interceptions by Steelers. On his way to the Hall Of Fame in Canton, Lambert picked up two Defensive Player of the Year Awards and four Super Bowl rings.

ILB - Ryan Shazier (2014-2017)

This one will be controversial. Although his career was cut short, Ryan Shazier was well on his way to being a Steeler legend had that fateful night in Cincinnati never happened. In his four seasons as a Steeler, Shazier gathered 299 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 18 QB Hits, seven forced fumbles, 25 passes defended, and seven interceptions on his way to two Pro Bowls in four seasons.

CB - Rod Woodson (1987-1996)

While good cornerback play has been hard to come by recently for the Steelers, we used to have some dawgs. Rod Woodson only won one championship in Pittsburgh, he put together a good body of work in his 10 years here. Hot Rod is fourth all-time in Interceptions with 38, fifth all-time in Solo Tackles with 644, and fifth all-time in Forced Fumbles with 16 for the Steelers All Time.

CB - Mel Blount (1970-1983)

Another legendary corner in Steelers history, Mel Blount used to put the fear of god into opposing players. Blount is the franchise’s all-time leader in Interceptions and won the Defensive Player of the Year in 1975. Blount now sits in history in the Hall of Fame thanks to his 14-year career, all in Pittsburgh. Blount was a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, and four Super Bowl rings.

FS - Minkah Fitzpatrick (2019-Present)

Although Minkah Fitzpatrick is relatively young in Steeler years, his body of work here since 2019 can’t go unnoticed. A key part of today’s defense with Watt and Heyward, Fitzpatrick can turn the game on its head at any time. Since joining the Steelers in 2019, he has gathered 17 Interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. Fitzpatrick has also amassed 299 total tackles, a valuable player in coverage and the run game.

SS - Troy Polamalu (2003-2014)

Another one that shouldn’t need much explaining. If you’re reading this, you know how great Troy Polamalu was. The heartbeat of one of the best modern-day Steelers defenses. The Flyin Hawaiian spent his whole 12-year career in Pittsburgh, gathering 32 interceptions, 783 total tackles, 12 sacks, and 56 tackles for loss. Polamalu was the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year and made the Pro Bowl eight times. He now sits immortalized forever in Canton.

Steelers Legendary Defense

The Steelers have had so many great defensive players throughout history, this team could be good if you went in a couple different directions. So many legends at so many different positions, the Men of Steel are known for defense.


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