Steelers tough to assess despite owning AFC's best record

If you tie together all the self-deprecating words from Steelers' players and coaches, all of the admissions of struggles and overall domination suffered in a Week 1 loss to their hated rivals in Baltimore, you can come up with a pretty illustrating sentence.

It would go something like this:

"We got handled" and "whipped in every facet" during a "totally uncharacteristic" game against a "more physical" and "more aggressive" Ravens team that was "more technically sound" in a fashion that was "totally embarrassing."

Internally, they were baffled. The Steelers started their season in a fashion nobody could have fathomed -- with a 35-7 thumping from the Ravens. The stunning blowout would cause more than a few to question the speed and age of this crew.

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On the eve of their chance to revisit the Ravens, the Steelers have managed to overcome the original loss by winning four straight games. Yet, even at 6-2 and on top of their division and conference, does anyone feel completely comfortable with assessing this team?

It is still difficult to know what we should expect from this team, based both on where they've been and where they're headed. Of every team in the NFL, you could make a strong case that Pittsburgh's second half to the season might be as interesting as any.

And, appropriately, it all starts Sunday night against the Ravens. There could be no better way for the Steelers to define the first half of their season -- while also setting a tone for the second half -- than winning this game.

All at once, it would prove their Week 1 struggles as an aberration to an otherwise sound start while shifting the attention to a slate of games on the horizon that suddenly look much more difficult than initially expected.

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