It's not a prerequisite for a successful Steelers season but it has been a pretty good indicator over the years. If the Steelers are getting to and sacking opposing quarterbacks it usually means the team is in contention for the Super Bowl.

And when they're not the record often plummets along with the sack totals.

In 1994 the year the Steelers lost to the Chargers in the AFC championship they set a franchise record with 55 sacks. They matched that record in 2001 when they went 13-3 and again reached the AFC title game.

When the Steelers won the Super Bowl after the 2008 season they led the NFL in sacks with 51. When they made a return trip two years later they again led the league with 48.

Since then it has been a rapid decline to rock-bottom. They fell to 17th in the league in 2011 and 15th last season. This season they are last in the league with four sacks in the first four games.

"Early on in games we're getting pressure" said defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. "Later on in games because we've been down we've been seeing a lot more runs and we're not getting the opportunities to get the sacks. That's predicated on us. We have to stop the run first and force them into some longer third downs.

"I think I was reading something where we're second-to-last [in the NFL] in having third-and-6 or longer. We have to force them into some tougher situations where they don't have as many opportunities and plays that put us in tough situations."

In 2003 and 2006 two of the four seasons the Steelers missed the playoffs in the past 12 years they were 11th and 17th in the league in sacks. The only year the Steelers were near the top of the league in sacks and missed the playoffs in recent history is 2009 when they were second in the league.