Early bye week won't hurt Steelers

The Steelers players believe the Week 4 bye came at the right time for the 1-2 team.

“I think we need the time to evaluate ourselves mentally,” linebacker Larry Foote told the team's official website. “We need to get away and individually we need some soul searching, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Guys need to pick it up, look at themselves in the mirror and see what we can do.”

The Steelers return to the team facility Monday and the hope is the improvement will be beyond the mental aspect of the game. Pittsburgh expects safety Troy Polamalu and running back Rashard Mendenhall to play Sunday.

While the bye seems to have come at the right time for the Steelers, most teams would prefer a later bye because that's when your players are really tired and need the break. But recent history suggests the earliest bye doesn't hurt the team's success for that season.

Since 2008, there have been 14 teams who have had a Week 4 bye. There have five teams who have made the playoffs and five teams who have finished with losing records.

The Steelers will learn if the bye will pay immediate dividends. Pittsburgh plays host to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Under coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 4-1 after their bye, including four straight wins.