The Steelers' offensive line has been conspicuous by its physicality during the season's first two-game winning streak, but to offensive line coach Mike Munchak that's resulted more from an opportunity to be more physical than a renewed commitment up front.
"I'm hoping we're physical every week," Munchak said. "The scoreboard may not always tell you that when you lose a couple games. I think when you get more opportunities to play the game a certain way and you're dictating more than the other team is; there were a couple weeks where we got behind by quite a bit in two games and that make you more one-dimensional.
"I think we've been physical throughout. We just haven't been as consistent play in, play out as maybe we were the last two weeks."
Physicality on offense was a hot topic of conversation in the visitors' locker room at Paul Brown Stadium following the Steelers' 28-21 victory over the Bengals on Oct. 14.
Players such as Conner and tight end Vance McDonald consistently inflicted damage when they had the ball in their hands.
"There were a lot of plays like that," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger observed. "I know on the one sideline Vance broke a tackle by Burfict and then other guys, James was breaking tackles. That gets guys going, it gets you juiced up that guys are being physical. It's a lot of fun to see guys aren't going to quit on plays.
"James, I thought he was a bowling ball. He was all over the place."
Pouncey also credited not just what Conner was able to accomplish on the ground, but how he went about it.
"He brings a lot of juice, man, the way he runs, his playing style," Pouncey said. "Whenever he's finishing like that I think it brings everybody else up around him."
Conner threw the credit right back at the offensive line.
"The goons, the goons up front," he insisted. "It always starts up front with the O-line.
"We go as they go."
Munchak maintained the offensive line has gone as the games have played out in a 41-17 victory over Atlanta on Oct. 7 and in the win at Cincinnati.
"Last week we just stayed the course, never really got out of our game and what we were trying to do," he said. "Same thing against Atlanta, I thought we just came out running it, handing it, doing different things."
The last two games have been a stunning contrast to what had played out on Sept. 30 against Baltimore.
The Steelers rushed for 19 yards and held the ball for just 24:57, including a mere 8:29 in the second half, in a 26-14 setback.
Since then the Steelers have rushed for a combined 243 yards, averaged 4.86 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns.
They've had five runs of over 19 yards since the Ravens game.
Munchak maintains the defense, likewise, has had a hand in all of that.
"Between us and the defense we played well the last two weeks and that's kinda the formula you like to have," he said. "They were helping each other."