NEW YORK — In their bid to stay perfect on the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been cutting it really close in recent weeks.
After earning last-minute wins in their past three games, the Steelers remained on top in the latest AP Pro32 poll.
Pittsburgh received nine of the 12 first-place votes for 380 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.
The Steelers held off the Tennessee Titans in Week 7 when Stephen Gostkowski missed a late field-goal attempt. And they survived final drives by the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys in the past two games to hang on for wins.
The Steelers' 8-0 start is the best in the franchise's history. They will look to stay unbeaten when they host the last-place Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"The perfect season continues, but the Steelers aren't quite perfect, as their comeback win over the woeful Cowboys showed," Newsday's Bob Glauber said.
"But credit coach Mike Tomlin, who has done superb work in getting the Steelers back to playoff contention, and give Ben Roethlisberger high marks on a magnificent comeback season."
The Steelers' margin for error may be sharply reduced this week, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and three other teammates joined tight end Vance McDonald on the COVID list.
The Kansas City Chiefs remained at No. 2 as they head into their bye week. The Chiefs earned the remaining three first-place votes for 375 points.
The NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints jumped three spots to No. 3 after routing Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-3 on Sunday night. The Buccaneers slipped five spots to No. 9 in the poll.
The Ravens gained a spot to No. 4 after defeating the Indianapolis Colts 24-10.
The AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills climbed three spots to No. 5 after handling the Seattle Seahawks 44-34 at home. The Seahawks dropped four spots to No. 7.
"(Seahawks coach Pete) Carroll needs to figure out how to improve his defense," Fox Sports' John Czarnecki said.
The Green Bay Packers inched up a spot to No. 6 after routing injury-riddled San Francisco 34-17 on Thursday night.
The Titans made a similar gain to No. 8. Tennessee opens Week 10 with a key matchup, hosting the AFC South-rival Colts on Thursday night. The Titans (6-2) lead the Colts by a game for the top spot in the division.
"Unless there is a Philip Rivers resurgence — and it sure doesn't look like it's coming — a franchise that enjoyed top-level quarterbacking stability from 1998 to 2016 is going to have to hit the reset button again in 2021 for a third straight year," Alex Marvez of Sirius XM said of the Colts' starting QB.
Despite coming off a bye week, the Los Angeles Rams gained two spots to round out the top 10. The Rams will return to action when they host the Seahawks on Sunday in an important NFC West matchup.