In 1933, Art Rooney and his Pittsburgh Pirates become part of what we know today as the National Football League. The Pirates would play a tough and physical brand of football on defense, but offensively, well, it was pretty bad. Needless to say, the first 36 years for the team where nothing short of a disaster. Over that period of time, the Steelers had only a few winning seasons and even less postseason appearances. Their overall record from 1933-1969 was 159-262-19, which ranked 9th out of 16 teams. Four of those teams they ranked ahead of in wins, didn’t enter the league until 1960 or later. The Rooney’s went through 13 head coaches and tried everything they could think of to change their fortunes, and nothing worked, not even the cheerleaders. For most of Steelernation, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers being the worst team in the NFL, but that is exactly how it was for 40 years, until December 23, 1972, when the Immaculate Reception turned the fortunes of this proud franchise around.
The Steelers not only started winning, they became a pro football’s greatest dynasty and they haven’t really lost since. Since the NFL/AFL merger, no team has won more games than the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have an NFL best record of 465-297-2. They lead the NFL with 20 division championships, 8 conference championships, 8 Super Bowl appearances, and 6 Super Bowl titles. They are the only team in history to win back to back Super Bowls twice. Since 1970, no team has given up less points per game than the Steelers 18 points per game. Over that same period of time, the Steelers are tied for third with their 21.9 points scored per game. Their record since the merger is 15.5 games better than the second best record, which belongs to the Dallas Cowboys.
All-Time, the Steelers now rank 4th in history with 563 wins. Their 33 postseason wins trail only the 34 wins of Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers 15 wins in 2004 rank tied for second all-time, as does their 14 straight wins during that season. Their 11 straight road wins during the 2004-2005 seasons also ranks second all-time. During the first 36 seasons of the Steelers existence, they went through 13 head coaches, but since 1969, the Steelers have only had three. Along with those three head coaches, the Steelers also have had two franchise quarterbacks, and it’s no coincidence that their six Super Bowl titles have been won with a franchise quarterback under center. Between Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have won 6 Super Bowl titles in eight trips to the big dance.
There have been four quarterbacks in NFL history that have won 100 games out of their first 150, and two of those quarterbacks are Pittsburgh Steelers. While Terry Bradshaw’s career got off to a very rocky start, so bad that he may not have lasted in today’s game, Ben Roethlisberger’s start was the best of any rookie in history, and he has only improved with age. Ben’s completion percentage of 66.4%, and his passer rating of 98.1, during his rookie year both rank number one in NFL history. He is the youngest starting quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. Last season Ben became the first quarterback in history to have two 500 yard passing games, and is also the only quarterback ever to have back to back games with six touchdown passes. This season, Ben is averaging 332.1 yards passing per game, which is third in NFL history. That should come up a little bit after his 380 yard game against Denver.
Of the 464 wins since 1970, 218 of them belong to Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger. While Terry is already a Hall of Famer, Ben will one day join him in Canton. Currently there are 23 Steelers who reside in the Steelers wing at the Hall of Fame, which is second only to the 26 members of the Chicago Bears. The history of the Steelers franchise mirrors the Steelers win over the Denver Broncos this afternoon, in that the first half of the Steelers history was full of ineptitude and mistakes. In the second half of the game though, just as in the last 40 years, the Steelers rose from defeat to pull off one of the best turnarounds you will ever see. This franchise and team are a reflection of the owner and the city they play in. They may get knocked down, but they are never out of it.