After shutting down the explosive force that is Washington Redskins' rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, taking out the Washington Redskins by a score of 27-12 in Week 8, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the Pittsburgh Steelers are past their early-season struggles.
Pittsburgh's defense was all over RGIII, limiting the phenom to a 47-percent completion percentage (16-of-34) for 177 yards and a second-quarter touchdown pass to Santana Moss. Griffin had been completing 70 percent of his passes up until Sunday.
RGIII couldn't run against Pittsburgh either, as the Steelers' swarming defense limited him to eight yards rushing on six carries—and seven of those eight yards came on one run.
Offensively, Ben Roethlisberger is running the offense like a finely tuned machine.
He completed 24-of-33 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, while Jonathan Dwyer, their third-string running back, has now put together back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in place of the injured Rashard Mendenhall and Issac Redman.
It doesn't matter what aspect of the game you want to look at—the Steelers showed on Sunday that they can excel in all areas.
For the rest of the AFC, that's not a good thing.
With the win, Pittsburgh now sits one game behind the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the AFC North. Five of the Steelers' nine remaining games are against teams in their division—including two against the Ravens and their injury-depleted defense.
It's not a cakewalk for the Steelers from here on out. They have two road games left on their schedule against NFC East opponents: Week 9 against the New York Giants and in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys.
So put their early season struggles out of your mind—the Steelers are still legitimate contenders in the AFC, and it shouldn't surprise anyone when they wind up in the AFC Championship Game.