Move Over Pats, You Have Company In This Decade
All of these historic franchises have been defined by their ten-year window of excellence. All was assumed the Patriots of the '00s would be the first great edition or "Dynasty" of the twenty-first century.
But no so fast...the Pittsburgh Steelers are staking a claim to being the "The Team of the Decade," or at least crowding into the conversation.
Sure the Pats have amassed three Lombardi Trophies, one ahead of their counterparts from the Steel City. But Pittsburgh still has a year remaining in the aughts.
The Steelers haven't looked better coming off an impressive 12-4 campaign and mowing through the toughest regular season schedule since their predecessors did the same in 1979. Another Lombardi Trophy next year would also give them three out of four just as the Pats did in the early millennium.
Everyone also wants to make a big fuss about the 2007 Patriots becoming the first team to go undefeated in a regular season (16-0). People soon forgot about the 2004 Steelers who nearly accomplished that same feat (going 15-1).
The 15-1 mark was a then AFC record best, and one could argue that it could have been better if not for one disastrous September Day in Baltimore. However, both the Steelers and Patriots' historic seasons ended in disappointment.
Everyone likes to point to the AFC Championship game victories that New England hold over Pittsburgh, 24-17 in '01 and 41-27 in '04. Yes, both were big victories, but the Patriots have the "spy-gate" clouding those two monumental victories.
Another key stat is division titles, which the Pats hold six and the Steelers five. Pretty close considering the putrid AFC East the past decade. The Steelers have had to contend with the upstart Bengals and an always competitive Baltimore Ravens club.
The Steelers have also made this run with two different head coaches. This is something that only the Cowboys of the 1990s did when Jimmy Johnson was forced out for Barry Switzer.
The Mike Tomlin led Steelers show no signs of slowing down either, in inking key members to the past success. Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu all just recently signed long term deals.
OK, so maybe the Steelers might go down with the likes of the Dolphins of the early 70s, or the John Elway Broncos of the late 90s, but that's not too shabby either. But don't be surprised if there's an AFC title tilt in late January, which in my opinion would be the title game to settle this dynasty tug-of-war.
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