An interesting tidbit from Tribune Review reporter Alan Robinson in Sunday's edition: the Steelers have won at least three of their first four games of the season 14 times since 1970. They qualified for the postseason in 13 of those 14 years.
All that's standing in the way of a 15th season with at least three wins in their first four is a wounded Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. Sure, the possibility of a trap game exists. In fact, it's probably true the Bucs aren't as bad as many have made them out to be. But that doesn't mean the Steelers are doomed to a letdown loss. Player-for-player, the Steelers are the more talented team. Many simply accept the notion that the better team on the field any given Sunday will win.
The Steelers are that better team.
Also, knowing they need some extra focus because the Steelers had less time to prepare for the Bucs than Tampa Bay did to prepare for them (they lost 56-14 on Thursday Night Football in Week 3) sharpens their edge a bit more. With history being on their side (first-time quarterbacks don't fare well against this defense, NFC teams don't go on the road and beat the Steelers often), notching that third win, the first time the Steelers will have done that since the 2010 season, seems the likely bet here.
And what's the real correlation between the past and this year's Steelers team? The running game. Pittsburgh has had at least spurts of success on the ground in all three of their games, and their last one was the most impressive rushing performance the franchise has seen in 40 years. Sometimes no one else needs to show up as long as a team can dominate the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball.
The Steelers have a much more-diverse arsenal of weaponry; something they've been building the last few seasons. An offensive line that flat-out dominated the trenches against Carolina faces a bigger individual challenge - DT Gerald McCoy may be the best in the game, even with a broken hand (he's expected to play today). But watching the combo blocking and downfield screens this offensive line is setting up is inspiring. It's clear why running back Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown make up the most dangerous duo of offensive players in the game.
Getting that performance on the field now is the key thing, and this team has shown enough to believe it can beat the Buccaneers in Week 4. Perhaps it'll go further than that, too.