Bill Cowher called the Steelers' 45-7 win over Kansas City last Sunday an "aberration."
The Steelers coach referred to his team's margin of victory. He just as easily could have been talking about the lackluster play of the Chiefs, who apparently were still on central time when the 4:15 p.m. game kicked off at Heinz Field.
Winning the Super Bowl means many things for the players, but along with endorsements and increased exposure comes internal pressure.
And then there is what comes from the outside.
Teams become targets when they carry the title of World Champions, and the Steelers have found that out during a 2-3 start and especially during a three-game losing streak that preceded the win over the Chiefs.
What it means is the Steelers should expect to see the team that dominated the Carolina Panthers in its season opener, not the one that got run over by the New York Giants last week, when they visit the Atlanta Falcons today for a 1 p.m. game.
"We definitely know that every team's gunning for us, and nobody wants to see a back-to-back champion," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "So we're going to get everybody's best effort. We understand that."
No one on the Steelers' 53-man roster had played on a Super Bowl-winning team before last season.
That raises the question of whether the Steelers might have gotten off to a better start if they had players who have been through what the team is experiencing this season.