No AFC team waited longer for its bye than Pittsburgh, which finally gets a week off after a 27-24 comeback win at Tennessee on Monday night.
And could the Steelers ever use the rest.
The Steelers were down four defensive starters against the Titans, with safety Troy Polamalu, inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, nose tackle Steve McLendon and cornerback Ike Taylor all sitting out with injuries. (Another defensive starter, Jarvis Jones, remains on injured reserve/designated for return.)
Still, the Steelers were eventually able to shake off 2-8 Tennessee, which held a 24-13 lead entering the fourth quarter. The offense, led by tailback Le’Veon Bell, kicked it in, and the defense limited the Titans to just 20 yards on seven plays in the final 15 minutes.
Now, the Steelers, winners of four of their last five, can take a deep breath before the final five games, two of which are against AFC North leader Cincinnati. A Week 16 matchup with 7-3 Kansas City also looms.
The Steelers, for their part, are currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC. That, of course, is subject to change, pending the results of the Week 12 slate.
And if the Steelers choose to sleep right through it, they can be forgiven.
THE BIG SIX
1. New England Patriots (8-2, .800). AFC East leader. Earns first-round bye, home-field advantage.
2. Denver Broncos (7-3, .700). AFC West leader. Earns first-round bye. Holds head-to-head tiebreaker over Chiefs thanks to Week Two win in Denver. The teams meet again November 30th in Kansas City on NBC.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1, .650). AFC North leader. Host Steelers in wild-card game.
4. Indianapolis Colts (6-4, .600). AFC South leader. Host Chiefs in wild-card game.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3, .700). Wild card No. 1.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, .636). Wild card No. 2.
7. Miami Dolphins (6-4, .600). Hold No. 7 seed on basis of superior AFC record (5-2) to Chargers (5-3) and Ravens (3-4).
8. San Diego Chargers (6-4, .600).
9. Baltimore Ravens (6-4, .600). Seeded ahead of Cleveland on basis of head-to-head win in Week Three. The teams meet again in Baltimore on December 28.
10. Cleveland Browns. (6-4, .600).
11. Houston Texans (5-5, .500). Seeded ahead of the Bills on basis of Week Four victory over Buffalo.
12. Buffalo Bills (5-5, .500).