PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers went into their bye week feeling proud of the few big plays they had allowed.
Opponents have gashed them with big plays ever since, and in the Steelers' 31-28 win over the Green Bay Backers on Sunday, Pittsburgh gave up three more.
To a backup quarterback.
Brett Hundley, in his fifth start since replacing Aaron Rodgers, entered the night with two touchdown passes and a long pass of 46 yards. On Sunday, he smashed those numbers in throwing three touchdown passes on plays of 39, 54 and 55 yards.
In their two previous games, the Steelers allowed touchdown passes of 60, 61 and 75 yards.
For a team that entered the game with the league's No. 3 pass defense, it is a head-scratcher.
"We know how teams are attacking us," Pittsburgh cornerback Artie Burns said. "We just have to do a better job of preventing them. We come in on Mondays and Tuesdays knowing what a team is going to do to us in certain situations. We haven't been making plays on those balls. We will get it right, though."
Burns was burned when Hundley found a wide-open Randall Cobb for a 39-yard score on Green Bay's first possession.
On the Packers' second possession, Hundley caught the Steelers in a blitz and hit Jamaal Williams with a screen pass. Strong safety Sean Davis took a bad angle that opened a seam for Williams, who took it 54 yards for the score.
The third big play came on the Packers' first series of the second half. Davante Adams beat cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, and free safety Mike Mitchell missed a tackle to allow Adams a 55-yard touchdown.
Those three plays represented 65 percent of the Packers' passing yardage in the game.
The Steelers appeared confused and undisciplined at times.
"I wouldn't say confusion," Sensabaugh said. "Maybe undisciplined, because we're an aggressive group. We try to go get the ball. But I wouldn't necessarily say confusion. We all know the coverage and where each other's supposed to be."
How will the Steelers clean it up?
"We're going to stay aggressive and keep working," Sensabaugh said. "That's one thing we're going to do, we're going to stay an aggressive unit. We're going to make more plays than we get beat on. We're going to stick with it."
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell rushed 20 times for 95 yards to increase his NFL-leading rushing total to 981 yards.
No one from the Steelers has led the league in rushing since Bill Dudley did it in 1946. A tiff with coach Jock Sutherland forced a trade, and the question has been whether Dudley cursed Steelers running backs ever since.
Dudley also led the league in 1942, and he played in 11 games each of those league-leading seasons. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was leading the league in rushing in 2001 when he was injured in the 11th game and missed the rest of the season.
Sunday night was Bell's 11th game of the season. And he walked away just fine.
"I'm glad you didn't tell me that before," Bell said. "So, it's over. Appreciate it."
Bell, of course, admitted he would like to lead the league in rushing, but he is more focused on winning games.
Ben Roethlisberger leaned heavily on Bell in the win over Green Bay, with the back making 12 catches for 88 yards.
"I want to say (Antonio Brown) is special," Roethlisberger said, "but to me, the big story in the passing game was Le'Veon. They were trying to get some depth and take away a lot of passes, and Le'Veon made play after play and bailed me out with a lot of check-downs, getting out quick and making things happen. As great as A.B. always is, Le'Veon was extra special today, too."
Bell said, "The last drive I saw I had 95 rushing yards. I had 85 passing yards and thought, 'Man, I could get a hundred in both.' But the last drive I only cared about winning this game."
Pittsburgh's Cam Heyward had another dominating performance Sunday night. He had two sacks for the second consecutive game to give him nine for the season. The only 3-4 defensive lineman to reach double digits in sacks for the Steelers was Keith Willis, who had 14 in 1983 and 12 in 1986.
Heyward passed other top team totals by 5-techs Aaron Smith (eight), Kimo von Oelhoffen (eight) and Ray Seals (8.5) on Sunday night.
"I still have a long way to go," said Heyward, who talked the previous week about his dream of making the Pro Bowl for the first time. He also said he realizes that production is difficult for an interior linemen, and that it is almost impossible to get recognition while categorized as a defensive end.
The Steelers didn't make it easier on Heyward when the used him at times as the only defensive lineman on the field Sunday. Pittsburgh occasionally employed four linebackers and six defensive backs.
"Just a different look. It worked," he said. "But I like having (Stephon) Tuitt out there, too. We just play what's called, but I prefer having my running mate out there."
Heyward was happier about T.J. Watt's sack on Green Bay's final possession. The rookie who grew up in Wisconsin capped an outstanding game against the Packers with the sack on first down. It put the Packers in a hole, and they punted three plays later to set up the Steelers' game-winning drive.
Did Heyward, the defensive captain, say anything to the unit before that series?
"Not really," he said. "We talked about the things that are going to win this game: communication, understanding down and distance, knowing what they want to do there. We got our hands up and T.J. came in and smacked the quarterback, and then we sniffed out the screen, and then we got off quick. We gave the ball back to our offense, and Ben made some really good throws."
Steelers reserve offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins played in his first NFL game -- as a tight end. He said he was in on six or seven plays as the team's third tight end in the jumbo package. Chris Hubbard, filling in for suspended right tackle Marcus Gilbert, has developed that role into something more than a short-yardage ploy.
Pittsburgh special teams coach Danny Smith told head coach Mike Tomlin to get the ball inside the 35-yard line for kicker Chris Boswell's final attempt. The Steelers got it to the 33, and then lost 2 yards on a pass to Bell before Boswell kicked a career-long 53-yarder, the longest by a Steeler at Heinz Field and tied for the longest at the stadium (with Dallas' Dan Bailey).
"I don't tell them numbers and they don't ask me numbers," Boswell said. "If we need it, I kick it. That's about it."