There was a lot of talk about perspective in the Steelers' locker room following their 37-19 dismantling of the Carolina Panthers.
Yes, there were plenty of things to be happy about.
The defense slammed Carolina's run game and got to quarterback Cam Newton, sometimes just rushing three guys.
The rushing attack was stellar, going for 264 yards as Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount each topped 100 yards, the first time that's happened for the Steelers since Walter Abercrombie and Earnest Jackson did it in 1986.
And the team finally forced its first two turnovers, scoring 14 points off of those.
But nobody was handing out any awards.
"I'm not going to crown them tonight," said coach Mike Tomlin of his team.
"Hopefully, we can enjoy this win today and continue to stay grounded," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "Hopefully, we’re not ‘Oh, we’re the greatest team ever.’ We’ve got to continue to work hard, continue to have a chip on our shoulder."
It's a similar message former coach Bill Cowher used to give. Don't get too high with the highs or too low with the lows.
And the reality of the team's injury issues was a natural cause for proper perspective.
The injury to Taylor was definitely one that had his teammates upset.
"It stinks," Keisel said. "We all know Ike. We all know the type of player he is, the type of competitor he is. We all know how tough he is. He’s one of those guys who when he’s hurt, he’ll still want to practice. A lot of guys when they’re hurt, they won’t want to practice.
"He just loves the game. He loves preparing. He loves competing. It was hard seeing him down there. He’s such an iron man. He’s played so many games. He’s played more games than any of us on defense. We love him. We know he’ll continue to lead and hopefully heal up fast."
@ Bell said that he and Panthers' linebacker Luke Kuechly, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, spent much of his game playing cat and mouse.
"He’s a really good player," said Bell, who rushed for 147 yards on 21 carries. "He’s a really patient linebacker. A lot of times it was tough to get him out of his gap. It was a lot of mind of games. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to him."
Bell said he would sometimes fake like he was going one way with the ball behind the line to get Kuechly flowing that way, then cut things back. That was apparent on Bell's career-long 81-yard run in the third quarter. He took a false step to the outside, then burst up the middle, trapping Kuechly out of the play.
"He kind of overran it a little bit," Bell said. "I ran outside a little bit to make him think I was running outside. He flew outside. Our offensive line did a great job of driving them off the line. The hole was probably the biggest I’ve had in my career. I hit it and I kept running until I couldn’t run no more."
@ Despite the big win, penalties continue to plague this team. The Steelers had 11 for 91 yards, the worst of which was an unnecessary roughness penalty on David DeCastro that nearly cost the team a field goal attempt at the end of the first half.
Count on Tomlin driving that point home with this team. That's now 31 penalties in three games. They had 80 all of last season.
And many of them were senseless, such as the one on DeCastro, who had an otherwise very solid game.
It was a curious move. Though I was told after the game privately that the team really likes what Brown brings as a blocker in the run game.
So maybe that explains it, at least to some degree.
@ Give Marcus Gilbert credit. He took a lot of heat for his performance in the first two games. But he was solid in this one and was crucial in the running game.
"They were amazing," said Blount. "We had one of our soldiers down and we had a guy step up and do everything that Ramon could do."
@ Shaun Suisham has made a team-record 23 consecutive field goals.
Yes, he missed a couple in the preseason. But he's been money otherwise.
@ Anybody still think the Steelers should have drafted Eddie Lacy instead of Bell?