The Steelers had the No. 1 defense in the NFL in 2011 and 2012 but they failed to win the AFC North or a playoff game either year. Last year they were 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

The Steelers are proud of their No. 1 ranking but they also recognize giving up the fewest yards doesn't necessarily translate to being a dominant defense. To be dominant a defense has to create turnovers and the Steelers have been lacking in that area the past two seasons.

They were 25th in the NFL last season with 20. They had just 15 in 2011 -- last in the league. At the pace the Steelers have been on the past two seasons it would take three seasons to match the one-year output of the Chicago Bears who led the league with 44 turnovers last season.

The Steelers used to be among the league leaders.

In 2010 the most recent time the Steelers went to the Super Bowl they were tied for third in the league with 35 turnovers.

In 2008 when they won the Super Bowl the Steelers created 29.

"Things happen" veteran cornerback Ike Taylor said. "It's kind of like a snowball effect. We just couldn't get the turnovers last year. We were playing hard but they just weren't coming. ... This year I think things will probably change."

Everyone on the defense has played a role in the drop-off. The pass-rushers haven't gotten to the quarterback as often to force fumbles or hurry throws. And the secondary hasn't done a good job of catching passes that should have been interceptions.

Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake challenged his players over the spring and summer to become better at catching.

He instituted new drills and worked hard at them in hopes of boosting the paltry interception statistics.
The Steelers had 10 interceptions all season and Lawrence Timmons a linebacker led the team with three.

"You have to play the defense first" Lake said. "It's not a lack of understanding or not being in the right place at the right time. If we would have just caught the balls that were thrown to us we would have been pretty good there.