NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Things We Learned from Week 12

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5 Things We Learned from Week 12

Steelers
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the 2013 NFL season 0-4, the Pittsburgh Steelers have found themselves starting the second half of this year’s campaign on a three-game winning streak. With a 27-11 victory over the division-rival Cleveland Browns, the Steelers (5-6) are now in a second-place tie in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens, and are two games behind the first-place Cincinnati Bengals in the division.

This win couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, considering the fact that Pittsburgh will have to turn right around and face the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, giving them only four days to prepare. This Thursday night’s AFC North battle will be the Steelers’ most pivotal game of the season.

Another mark in the “W” column, and a possible loss by the Bengals in Week 13, will put Pittsburgh one step closer to the likelihood of not only claiming a Wild Card spot for the postseason, but also the chance of winning the division crown (something no one thought would happen a month ago). However, a loss could completely derail their chances of making the playoffs.

The Steelers’ 180-degree turnaround is something that Steeler Nation, and the entire league has taken notice of, and will continue to do so if Pittsburgh continues with their new-found success against Baltimore this Thursday night.

Looking back on Week 12, the Steelers seemed to be more dominant than they were the previous week. The offense moved the ball as they pleased, and did so without turning the ball over, while the defensive unit produced their best performance of the season.

In addition to taking notice of Pittsburgh’s dominance, here are five other things that we learned about the Steelers in Week 12.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+.

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5. Injuries Didn’t Faze Defense

Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Even with injuries to defensive end Brett Keisel, linebacker LaMarr Woodley and nose tackle Steve McLendon, the Steelers’ reserves stepped up and delivered in a big way. Al Woods helped anchor the defensive line with two sacks, along with the help of Ziggy Hood, and the constant quarterback pressure by Jason Worilds only made matters worse for the Browns’ passing game.

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4. The Offensive Line Might Have Finally Got It Together

Steelers
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time all season, Pittsburgh’s offensive line didn’t surrender a sack in a game. What makes this more impressive is the fact that they did this against a Browns’ defense that entered Week 12 with 31 sacks.

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3. Defense Found Other Options in Pass Rush

Steelers
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

The bulk of Pittsburgh’s quarterback pressures and sacks usually comes from their corps of linebackers. Against the Browns, things were a little different. The Steelers had a season-high five sacks against Cleveland, none of which were recorded by a linebacker. As mentioned before, Woods had two from his nose tackle position, defensive end Cameron Heyward added one and cornerback William Gay and safety Troy Polamalu each had a sack blitzing from the secondary.

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2. Offense Will Have to Continue to Rely on Passing Game

Steelers
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh’s offense was productive against the Browns, but mostly due to the passing game. The Steelers couldn’t reach the century mark on the ground, and averaged a measly 2.5 yards per carry on the day.

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1. Steelers Are No Longer the Worse Team in AFC North

Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After being at the bottom of the AFC North for a significant amount of time this season, the Steelers can proudly say that they are no longer the worse team in the division. Their victory over the Browns made Cleveland the cellar dwellers of the division, and Pittsburgh’s recent play on the field has some saying that they are probably on their way back to being the best in the AFC North.