The expectations are ever-present after last season, but coordinator Keith Butler and the Steelers' defense are embracing them.
"I think it's highly expected that we should play well because they've played together for a while," Butler observed after practice today. "We're not trying to invent the wheel here. Our guys are just trying to do some of the stuff we've asked them to do the last year, year and a half, and they're doing it."
The Steelers' defense didn't win every snap in Monday night's 26-16, season-opening victory over the Giants.
But even a 41-yard touchdown pass surrendered in the second quarter it was the type of big play the Steelers have surrendered infrequently ever since free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick arrived for Week Three last season wasn't enough to shake Butler's or his players' faith in their individual and collective abilities.
"We got caught on the short end of that particular play," Butler acknowledged. "(The Giants) made a good play but I still have all the confidence in the world in (cornerback) Joe (Haden) and (cornerback) Steve Nelson.
"Both of them are very good players, very fortunate to have them."
Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton was able to beat Haden to the deep post on the play, which gave the Giants a 10-3 lead with 13:45 left in the second quarter. Haden had passed off tight end Evan Engram and bolted back to the post, and Fitzpatrick had vacated his center field position and come up to defend Engram running across the field.
Slayton hauled in quarterback Daniel Jones' pass at the goal line between Nelson and Haden and tumbled into the end zone.
The Steelers prepare for the Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos
"It was executed the way it was supposed to be executed," Fitzpatrick said. "I was supposed to take the 'over' route that came from the tight end and Joe was supposed to replace me over the top. It was a lot of ground for Joe to cover over the top. And the tight end, he came out slow so Joe had to hesitate and I had to hesitate, as well.
"They knew how we were going to play. They made a great play but we did what were supposed to do on the back end. Steve was in good position, as best as he could have been. And Joe was in as best a position as he could have been in. Quarterback made a great throw, receiver ran a great route."
It was an anomaly.
The other Giants' points were scored on a field goal to complete a possession that began at the Steelers' 3-yard line following a muffed punt, and on a touchdown with 1:56 left in regulation and the Giants trailing by 16.
"I think third down we could have played a little better, the third-and-mediums," Fitzpatrick said. "I don't know exactly what percentage they were but to me it felt like they won too many of them. But we executed when we needed to in the red zone.
"Besides that I think we were pretty good. We need to communicate a little better but overall I think it was pretty solid."
The run defense held Saquon Barkley to 6 yards on 15 carries.
That was a big deal to Butler, who still enters every game with the expectation of stopping the run.
"A lot of people think it's out-dated, I don't," Butler maintained. "You look at the people that were successful last year, what did they do? You look at Tennessee and that big back that they have (Derrick Henry). You look at Kansas City, Kansas City has a good throwing team and they do a great job at throwing the ball but they did run the ball, too. You look at the Ravens, they were the top running team in the league and look how far they won our division.
"The run is still very, very important. And it's still very, very important to us to stop the run and get them in situations where we know they're going to throw the football and then try to defend them in those circumstances."
Take a look at the best photos of the Steelers defense from the Week 1 game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium