Every time that the national media talked about the Green Bay Packers going undefeated, their winning streak that began prior to last season's playoffs and, most of all, their quest for back-to-back Super Bowls...the Pittsburgh Steelers cringed.
They cringed because they had the opportunity to stop that discussion in last year's Super Bowl, but that chance slipped out of Rashard Mendenhall's hands in the opinion of many fans and cost Pittsburgh the game.
A pick-six from the hands of Ben Roethlisberger?
Allowing a relatively unknown Jordy Nelson to run freely in the defensive backfield?
This was not Steelers football, and they were still within one possession of winning the game.
Perhaps the Steelers feel like the praise and adoration for the Packers was misplaced and should have been Pittsburgh's all along. Who could blame them?
The Steelers have been a model of consistency in recent NFL history. In the absence of a clear-cut favorite in the AFC, the Steelers are always the safest bet to take the AFC crown.
This must leave Pittsburgh wondering why they are not being mentioned as a team that could flirt with perfection every year and maybe be the first to win three consecutive Super Bowls.
In order to fulfill that prophesy, the Steelers are on a mission this year to get back to the Super Bowl and force someone other than themselves to beat them.
That march begins with a tricky test against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.
The Steelers may be entering the playoffs as one of the most banged-up squads, but their mentality trickles down from their leader Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger would take the field no matter the extent of his injuries and his teammates respect that dedication.
However, that dedication is threatening to be the team's downfall as there are many who wonder if the injuries are so extensive that the Steelers might be doing themselves a disservice by trotting out their injured star.
The talent gap between the Broncos and Steelers is vast. Even with the injuries, the Steelers are heavily favored.
Mental toughness may be a commodity that the Steelers boast over many of their opponents. In the quest to right the wrongs of last year's Super Bowl, they will need all they can get to navigate the AFC playoffs.