The Pittsburgh Steelers once again sleepwalked through a road-tilt, playing down to an inferior opponent. It almost cost the AFC North leaders, who had to fight back from a 14-point, second-half deficit to secure a 20-17 win at the buzzer over the Indianapolis Colts.
If it looked to you like the Steelers were half asleep, it's probably because they pretty much were.
"We definitely didn't have the energy we normally have," linebacker Ryan Shazier said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I'm not going to lie. Before the game, some people even told me it didn't feel like a game day. The bye week throws you off a little bit."
The post-bye week malaise isn't anything new; neither is struggling on the road against lesser talent. Pittsburgh had lost their previous three games following a bye. The Steelers also barely beat the winless Browns on the road to open the season and fell to the three-win Bears in Chicago this year.
The Steelers' offense was particularly putrid in the first half, with Ben Roethlisberger completing just 7 of 15 passes for 72 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception and a 33.0 passer rating in two quarters of play.
Pittsburgh's first five drives of the game included an opening-series interception, two three-and-outs, four total first downs, and 33 total net yards.
"You don't want all of them to be like this," guard David DeCastro said. "Make it a little cleaner, but it's the NFL. That's the way it is, and coming off a bye week, there's something to be said for that.
"Hopefully, we've got all of the rust off."