There was a bond in the Steelers locker room this year, one that didn't happen overnight, one that couldn't be forced.
"It was different," said linebacker Terence Garvin. "You could feel it. I felt the difference."
It was a bond that has developed over time, one that went through some growing pains the last few years as the roster changed, but slowly developed to the point where it blossomed into something special this year.
"I think this is definitely the closest team I have ever played on," said safety Mike Mitchell, in his second season with the Steelers and seventh overall in the NFL. "To battle through the adversity we did together created a unique bond that I never had before."
Not to say that the Steelers locker room wasn't tight before. It was. But there was a difference this year as younger players took on a new role and everyone meshed together.
"You could see guys embracing the brotherhood," said nose tackle Steve McLendon, in his sixth season. "That is what it's all about. Any time you have guys that are starting to trust one another, play with one another for more than one year. You trust your brother that he is going to do everything. We spent more time off the field together, getting to know one another and that has helped so much.
We were spending time with the guys we went to battle with every week."
Long snapper Greg Warren is in his 11th season and he felt that something special this year, the same type of feeling that exuded out of the locker room when he was part of the Super Bowl Championship teams.
"When you have a group of guys that it starts feeling like you are brothers, it becomes really special," said Warren. "Guys are looking out for each other, always sticking up for each other, never pointing fingers. You stay real tight through the highs and lows. When you have adversity you have to come together and be even tighter. That was fun. It was really fun to play this year."
And what is good, is everyone sees that feeling, that bond, just growing in 2016.
"The young guys were coming to work every day, preparing themselves," said cornerback William Gay. "You just saw the hunger in everybody coming together, saying it's bigger than me, it's about the team. That is what you need. When I was young you had to buy into it. There were already established guys on the team. The core group on this team is now already established and anyone coming in has to buy in with that core group and it's going to be great what can come from that."
There will be changes this offseason, as there always are in an offseason, to the roster. There will be additions, and there will be departures. But keeping the core group together is something that will definitely keep the bond tight.
"We always have good continuity," said Mitchell. "If we do that and everyone comes back with the mindset of let's pick up where we left off, we will eventually get to where we want to be."