Complete team: After the Steelers defeated the Browns on Sunday at Heinz Field, Coach Mike Tomlin referred to it as a "varsity game," crediting an across the board performance in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams, for the win.
To put up that type of performance, having a complete team is a factor and Coach Mike Tomlin outlined what a complete team is.
"A group that is capable of winning games in a lot of ways," said Tomlin. "(A group) that has players that are capable of stepping up, so they are tough to draw a bead on from a balance standpoint. A team that also has a high floor. You talk often about ceilings and what people are capable of from an outstanding standpoint, but there has to be a certain level of consistency in play and that's displayed by a good high floor from things you can expect from a performance standpoint.
"Lastly, a team that is difficult to beat, and by that, I mean a team that doesn't beat themselves. That's largely done through negativity that is created through penalties and things of that nature. So, you have to keep your penalty totals down as well."
Quality team players: One thing that you will quickly notice about Steelers players is the true joy they have when they see their teammates succeed. That is up and down the roster and while it's been a focus of attention lately with JuJu Smith-Schuster showing a lot of excitement for his teammates success while his numbers have been low, Tomlin said it's something that just comes with being good teammates and isn't anything unusual.
"I really just really think it's funny that it's noteworthy that we're excited because teammates are scoring and having success. I think that football is the ultimate team game. JuJu is a quality example of that. But we have a lot of guys that are quality examples of that. We shouldn't let a few outliers globally in terms of guys that are not good team players, or the reporting of such events, capture the headlines.
"Largely we have a lot of guys that are quality team players that play and play to win and play together. When anybody does something well, everyone is usually pretty excited about it."
An RB like an LB: The Steelers will once again have what Tomlin calls a 'five-star matchup' this week when they go on the road to take on the only other undefeated team in the AFC, the 5-0 Tennessee Titans.
And it will be a battle with the Titans No. 1 rushing offense in the AFC, including the conference No. 1 rusher in Derrick Henry, going against the No. 1 rushing defense in the conference.
Henry has 123 carries for 588 yards and six touchdowns through five games and presents a huge challenge for the defense.
"Not only do you have to stop the run initially, but this is a guy who averages about 25 carries a game," said Tomlin. "Regardless of how the game is going, you better be prepared to answer that element of the challenge over the course of the game. He wears you down. He's capable, and they're capable of winning by attrition. As you saw last week, he's also big play capable. It's really astounding that a back his size is capable of going to the house just about every time he touches it. Over the course of the last 10 or 12 games, dating back to last year, this guy has a highlight reel of big runs unlike which I have never seen over that type of a time span.
"A lot is written and said about his size, his stiff arm, his power and those things, and all of those things are true. The damage that he does when he gets in open space that he's able to couple those attributes with sprinter's speed is just ridiculous.
"He's just got sprinter speed to go with some of the other unique attributes that we discussed. You see it. You see everybody's secondary over the course of the last couple of years chasing this guy and very few people closing the distance. Despite his size, when he gets in open space, you've got real home run hitter issues when he gets in your secondary."
His size is definitely something that makes him standout. Henry is 6-3, 247, built more like a linebacker than a running back.
"There are people that are intimidated by him," said Tomlin. "There are tangible things to be intimidated by. This is like Bud Dupree running the football. This guy gets into your secondary. It's like trying to tackle a guy like Bud, except he is faster, obviously, than Bud. You can see DBs having issues with that. Hopefully, we minimize the amount of time our guys are in those circumstances, and hopefully, when our guys are in those circumstances, they do what they have to do. They do what the job requires them to do."