Missed opportunities:** The Steelers are a team that prides themselves on creating turnovers, but interceptions have been few and far between through the first seven games of the season. The team has just three interceptions, and none of those have come from the secondary. Linebackers William Gay, Ryan Shazier and Ryan Shazier all have one interception, and Coach Mike Tomlin said the lack of numbers comes from a combination of missed opportunities and not creating enough opportunities.
"It is a concern," said Tomlin. "We have missed some opportunities. We have had some significant plays and balls in our hands that should have been intercepted that haven't been. We've got to make those plays. Oftentimes they change the climate in football games."
Tomlin pointed specifically to a missed interception in Miami by William Gay with the Steelers ahead 8-3 that could have changed the climate, and another by Stephon Tuitt in Washington that while the Steelers won the game, it could have put 'an exclamation point' on the win.
"There have been a number of opportunities that haven't been cashed in on," said Tomlin. "There haven't been enough opportunities because we're not doing a good enough job of creating a climate where those opportunities occur."
A closer look: With a bye last week the Steelers had a little bit of time to do some self-evaluating, and in doing so Tomlin could see differences from the way the team performed early in the season, to things that have been troublesome the last few weeks.
"In recent weeks when we have not moved the ball as fluidly as we like offensively or scored the type of points we like offensively, it has been because of turnovers and lack of conversions on third downs," said Tomlin. "Largely, those numbers aren't out of whack. But in most recent weeks when we haven't played the way we wanted to play on offense that has been the issue.
"On defense we have been solid against the run, but we haven't been in recent weeks and that's has been indicative of our play. We have done a good job of minimizing big plays in the early part of the year. Over the course of recent weeks we allowed a few people to get behind us.
"There is a big picture perspective in terms of our large body of work, but you also have to acknowledge some things that we have or haven't done in recent weeks that require our attention."
Rivalry week:** Sunday will be a classic AFC North matchup when the Steelers and Ravens meet at M&T Bank Stadium. The Steelers currently sit atop the AFC North at 4-3, while the Ravens are third at 3-4. But it's not much at all that divides the two teams, and it's going to a battle on the road where the Steelers are 1-2 this season.
"It's going to be exciting ball," said Tomlin. "Control of the AFC North is at stake. We respect their place. We are doing it at their place. It's a hostile environment. They are well coached and have good players.
"Every yard, every blade of grass is going to be a significant one, as is usually the case when these two teams play one another."