Redemption and then some

How the Steelers' defense regained its lofty reputation in stopping the Vikings.

The plan was to get a picture with Brett Favre after the Vikings had been dealt with, in honor of Favre being "kind of iconic, I guess you could say."

Brett Keisel had done that in 2005 in Green Bay, but despite the best efforts of Steelers photographer Mike Fabus that Kodak Moment had gone awry.

"My eyes are closed and he's grabbing his junk," Keisel lamented. "It's not a very good picture."

Alas, there was no re-take on Sunday.

The festivities ended with Favre being driven into the Heinz Field turf shoulder-first by James Harrison. After that there was a brief exchange with Ben Roethlisberger and then a longer one with Deshea Townsend. And then Favre headed for the locker room.

Upon doing so, Favre realized he still had the ball in his hand. So he did what any self-respecting, future Hall-of-Famer would have done. He tossed it onto an unoccupied patch of grass.

That's a photo I wish someone would have snapped.

The Steelers' defense, Keisel included, will have to settle for the video and the highlights and the write-ups as far as mementos are concerned. In any fashion those will have value.

This was not a defense that had lost all confidence or swagger in the wake of what had happened late in games in Chicago and Cincinnati, against the Chargers and at Detroit. But that didn't mean the Steelers weren't aware of their critics, those who, in the estimation of Ryan Clark, had forgotten "who we were defensively and who we are."

Back-to-back touchdowns on defense with the game on the line against one of the great comeback artists of all-time should serve as timely reminders.

"Same people, same character, same competitors," Clark said. "We just went out and played well."

Their reward was one victory in the standings, same as against Cleveland. Except after that game, no one was hoping to get a picture taken with Derek Anderson.

Troy Polamalu used the word "irrelevant" in assessing what there is to be gleaned intangibly from repeated turnover-touchdowns at Favre's expense.

"Whenever you get on the football field your resume is kind of thrown out the window," Polamalu said. "You have so much respect for the game and the players out there it's irrelevant who's actually out there."

The idea at those moments, as always, is to win, period. Still, as Bill Cowher liked to say, "Perception is reality." And the perception of the Steelers' defense, at the very least in the world outside of the Steelers' locker room, has been restored by what was done to Favre, much more than it had been by the back-to-back-to-back sacks of Dante Culpepper.

Maybe that's all just "elevator music," as Mike Tomlin likes to say. But if the confidence and swagger among the Steelers' defenders had grown a little fragile, Sunday provided redemption. These Steelers can embrace their bye secure in the knowledge they still have what it takes to deny an NFL icon as many times as it takes.

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