Arthur Moats knew there were question marks about the Steelers defense before the season started. He knew there were doubters. He knew some didn't believe this was a unit that could be one of the top defenses in the NFL.
"We didn't have the statistical performance we wanted last year and there were a lot of questions this year with new faces and a new coordinator in Keith Butler," said Moats. "I was moving to the left side, you think about the changes at corner and safety. There were a lot of unknowns and question marks."
It wasn't easy knowing that was the perception, especially from a group of proud football players who want nothing more than to uphold the tradition set by the Steelers on defense, a tradition of greatness.
"It was definitely tough, especially knowing the history of the Steelers defense," said Moats. "At the same time it was nothing that we didn't warrant. We brought that upon ourselves with the performances we had last year. For us we made sure this year was going to be different and we are continuing to do that. That is the beauty of football, you get to write a new story every game. "I felt like we put it upon ourselves as a challenge to prove that we belong out here, we can still have success on defense and be a part of the reason why we are winning. That was the main mentality and I feel like it is showing up. We have to continue to improve every day."
And improving is exactly what the unit is doing. Communication issues that were a problem early on have diminished, tackling has improved and overall it's a unit that is on a continual upswing.
The best photos of Linebacker Arthur Moats from the 2015 season thus far.
"This is the one thing we have been saying all year, that we want to play our best ball at the end of the year, to keep growing and getting better," said Moats. "The teams that started out playing their best ball the first couple of games of the season, they tend to dwindle down at the end. For us we want to continue to be on the rise. Ultimately when you get into the playoffs you want to be a hot team, and that is what we are trying to be."
And in doing so, different players are making an impact game in and game out. From rookies to veterans, linemen to linebackers to defensive backs, everyone is making plays.
"We love it," said Moats. "You never know who is going to be the guy to step up and have one of those types of moments, those types of games. It makes all of us excited and want to play that much harder. We are brothers, but we are competing against each other too. If I see you make a big play, I want to make an even bigger play too. It keeps us being competitive, but at the same time having fun."
The Steelers have been informed that their Nov. 29 game against the Seattle Seahawks will remain a 4:25 pm (ET) start. The game will air on CBS.