PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Four of the undefeated Tennessee Titans wins came over teams with combined records of 5-18 and by one, two, three and six points. Their other victory was a 26 point shellacking of the 4-2 Bills, which was impressive.
So, how good is the Steelers next opponent?
"i just think they're a complete team," said Cam Heyward on Wednesday. "I don't know if they're better than teams we've played, but they have a stout running game, a hard-hitting running game that finishes plays. Then they have a passing game (with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receivers A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith) and a stifling defense, as well. We have our work cut out for us."
That work includes trying to contain 6-foot-3, 247-pound Derrick Henry, the NFL's leading rusher.
"You've got to stress tackling," Heyward said. "It can't just be arm tackles this week. You see how he's breaking away from guys. He's got a mean stiff arm. As a defense and as a front-seven, we have to understand we can't put the onus on our (defensive backs) to tackle the entire game."
The task of holding Henry in check could be all the more difficult with the season-ending knee injury to inside linebacker Devin Bush, who had played every snap prior to the injury last Sunday.
"It affects us because we hate to see a brother go down," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "(Bush is) kind of the quarterback, if you will, of the defense The guy that calls the signals that was playing really good football right now."
The plan is for inexperienced third-year pro Robert Spillane to replace Bush after he did so in the second half against the Browns.
"He's had a good camp and he's had a good half," Heyward said. "But going forward we've got to make sure he's not under a lot of pressure. Give him the calls and let him succeed. As a defense we have to surround him with good plays and make sure he's in good situations."
Heyward believes this veteran Steelers defense is better equipped to deal with the loss of Bush than it was during the 2017 season when linebacker Ryan Shazer sustained a career-ending spinal cord injury.