Steelers players have always stressed about finishing a season strong. But it's been a long time, since 1978 to be exact, that a Steelers team has started out as strong as the 2020 Steelers have.
With a 7-0 record this year's team has matched the best start in franchise history, when the 1978 team also began with seven wins to begin the season.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger credited having a veteran team that didn't undergo wholesale changes this offseason with helping to lead to that success.
"Knowing we are a veteran team, guys have been together for a long time, systems haven't changed in terms of offense and defense," said Roethlisberger. "Coaches are the same. I think that has definitely helped and contributed to the early season success."
That togetherness is something that has been valuable for a lot of reasons in 2020. It's been a season like no other due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted the team this week after Ravens' safety Marlon Humphrey tweeted that he tested positive one day after playing against the Steelers. The has put the Steelers in a more intensive protocol this week, changing things up a bit for the players.
"Things got pushed back an hour today," said Roethlisberger of the team's Wednesday schedule. "We met in the indoor facility, so it was really spread out. That is where some of the meetings are going to have to be. We were told we can't do individual meetings in person, so those will be virtual. There will be some virtual stuff this week."
It's something Roethlisberger and his teammates will deal with, just as they have had to deal with playing three straight games against teams with a combined two losses at the time they played. Just like they have to deal with playing three straight road games because of schedule changes due to the Titans game being moved because of their COVID-19 positive tests.
"Being around as long as I have you get in these situations," said Roethlisberger. "It's been an unprecedented year. We had all of those home games in a row, which you don't have. Now to go on the road, the way this season and year has been for everybody. My college coach used to say, have a plan, work the plan and plan for the unexpected. That has what we have been doing. We take whatever is thrown at us. Like today everything getting pushed back an hour.
"Everyone has to do what we can. We can't sit back and say, 'woe is us.' People in real life are dealing with changing things too. We have to keep rolling with it and understand when we get on the field on Sunday, it doesn't matter where we are. We have to play our best."
Admittedly last week's game against the Ravens, a 28-24, was a physically draining one for the team. But rebounding strong is huge, especially going against a dangerous Dallas Cowboys team who at 2-6 are looking for the upset.
"The last two weeks have been draining games," said Roethlisberger. "The Tennessee game because it felt like we were on the field for 100 plus plays. Then last week just because it's Baltimore. Coach (Mike Tomlin) is doing some things this week just to get guys back, the way practice is scheduled and things like that.
"It's one of those things that we joke that football is work during the week, but when Sunday comes, we're playing ball. We might be drained during the week. This is one of those weeks we have to mentally focus in and the preparation in terms of meeting time and things like that. When Sunday comes, you can be as tired as you want during the week, you've got to dial in and be ready to go."