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Both Belichick and O’Brien say dealing with Troy Polamalu no easy task

10.24.11 at 2:40 pm ET

At the start of the season, some believed that the Pittsburgh defense was too old to still be considered among the league’€™s elite units — after a season-opening 35-7 loss to the Ravens, analyst Warren Sapp said the Steelers’€™ defense was ‘€œover. … it’€™s that simple.’€

However, the reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated: Since that loss, Pittsburgh has won five of six, and the defense has rebounded to it familiar spot at or near the top of every major defensive category, including total yards (seventh in the league with 1,953), passing yards (fifth in the league with 1,203) and total points allowed (sixth in the league with 122 through seven games).

‘€œI have no idea where anyone would get that impression,’€ Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’€™Brien said if the Pittsburgh defense was too old or past its’€™ prime. ‘€œI really believe this is a tough defense, a smart defense, a really well coached defense.’€

On conference calls with the media on Monday afternoon, both O’€™Brien and Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised the work of veteran safety Troy Polamalu.

‘€œI’€™ll put it to you this way: you’€™ve got to know where this guy is on every single play,’€ O’€™Brien said of the returning Defensive Player of the Year. ‘€œHe’€™s a very instinctive player. He’€™s a guy that can really disrupt the game if you don’€™t have knowledge of where he is on every play. I think he’€™s playing very fast and again, very well with his instincts and his overall experience playing in that system. He’€™s one of many defenders on that defense that is going to be tough to go against. He’€™s at the head of the class.’€

‘€œHe’€™s one of the top defensive players in the league,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œHe’€™s a dynamic player that can affect any player that you run ‘€“ run or pass, inside, outside, short, deep. He’€™s a tremendous football player, great competitor. He’€™s made a ton of plays this year, made them last year; he makes a lot of them. I thought he played well last year, I thought he was really productive last year.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Troy Polamalu, Warren Sapp



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