The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) busted out of an offensive slump Thursday night, hanging 40 points on the Tennessee Titans in a victory that kept Pittsburgh’s slim hold on the AFC’s No. 1 seed. But the defense, as it has all season, continued to answer the call, shutting down a Titans offense that entered the week ranked 13th in the NFL in scoring.

And it’s that unit’s consistency that could elevate the team to a Super Bowl contender down the stretch.

“It’s scary, man,” defensive end Stephon Tuitt told USA TODAY Sports. “The sky is the limit. When you watch what our offense put together, now we’ve got that energy. I mean, we gave up a touchdown when we came out of the tunnel at halftime. But you know what, the offense, they gave us the energy to shut them down the rest of the half.”

The Steelers did something they haven’t done in 33 years. Against the Titans, they had their first four-interception, five-sack game since October 1984.

That means that this young, ascending defense reached a level of productivity that the teams that boasted players like Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, Joey Porter and other greats never accomplished.

That it came against Marcus Mariota, a quarterback known for his athleticism protecting the ball, showed just how much this group has improved since last year.