Analysis: Defense improved, but not enough


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Bud Dupree. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

The Steelers' 2018 defense was better than the version that ended the 2017 season. That much is unarguable.

Despite running a gauntlet of top quarterbacks in 2018 -- Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, New Orleans' Drew Brees, the Chargers' Philip Rivers, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, New England's Tom Brady and Carolina's Cam Newton among them -- the Steelers finished sixth in the league in overall defense, including 10th against the pass at 231.1 yards per game.

But there's also no arguing the defense had its shortcomings.

The Steelers forced just 15 turnovers, which, considering they tied for the league lead with 52 sacks, just doesn't add up. And while it would have stretches where it looked like a top-notch unit, it also showed a propensity to give up leads late in games. Their 123 points allowed in the fourth quarter ranked 24th in the league.

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