Ranking The All-Time Greatest Pittsburgh Steelers Teams
The Steelers have a long history of success. There have been countless great players, some Hall of Famers, some headed there.
There have also been a bundle of great teams in Steelers history, some of those teams rank among the greatest in NFL history.
I decided to make a list of the 15 greatest teams in Steelers' history. I did a lot of research, but I didn't compile the list based on statistics alone.
I actually went more on gut feeling since I watched the majority of these teams in action.
I'm sure I left some worthy teams out, but I couldn't include them all.
So, strap yourselves in and let's get to the list.
15. 1947 (8-4) (0-1 postseason) - Some of you may be surprised by this one but I had to include the Steelers' first playoff team on the list. This team tied Philadelphia for the Eastern Division title forcing a playoff game to be played in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, star tailback Johnny Clement, who led the team in rushing, passing, punt returns and kickoff returns, was injured and missed the game. Without Clement, the Steelers NFL Championship hopes were dashed by the Eagles 21-0. It would be 25 long years before the Steelers would play in another playoff game.
14. 1973 (10-4) (0-1 postseason) - The Steelers entered the 1973 season as Super Bowl contenders and looked every bit the part as they jumped out to a 8-1 start. A three game losing streak cost them the division title and a home playoff game.
In a rematch of the "Immaculate Reception" game in Oakland the Steelers were crushed 33-14. It was a disappointing end to a promising season, but the Steelers were close, one great draft away as it turns out.
13. 1997 (11-5) (1-1 postseason) - Kordell Stewart had finally gained control of the starting quarterback job in 1997 and accounted for a spectacular 32 touchdowns rushing and passing. Along with a stout defense and a lot of power running, the Steelers were tough to beat.
Stewart was erratic at times as a passer and it cost the Steelers in the AFC Championship game against the Broncos. His three interceptions were the difference as Pittsburgh came up short of a Super Bowl berth.
12. 1972 (11-3) (1-1 postseason) - This team certainly seemed like a team of destiny after their stunning victory over Oakland in the divisional round. The Steelers gave the undefeated Dolphins everything they could handle in the AFC Championship game at Three Rivers Stadium.
I still believe Pittsburgh would have won the game had Bradshaw not missed nearly the entire game with an injury. He returned in the fourth quarter and nearly rallied the Steelers to victory. The Dolphins ultimately prevailed, but Steeler fans got a glimpse of what Bradshaw was capable of in the big games.
11. 2001 (13-3) (1-1 postseason) - The Steelers looked like the team to beat in the AFC after dethroning the champion Ravens in the divisional round but a match-up with "The Greatest Show on Turf" was squashed by the underdog Patriots.
Drew Bledsoe came off the bench for the injured Tom Brady to lead the New England offense and the Patriots scored on a couple of special teams errors by the Steelers. Once again, Kordell Stewart failed miserably under the pressure of the big game, throwing three more interceptions.
10. 2004 (15-1) (1-1 postseason) - The Steelers compiled the best regular season record in AFC history at the time and breezed into the playoffs on a 14 game winning streak. Rookie Ben Roethlisberger played efficiently and was aided by a solid run game and a top flight defense.
Big Ben seemed to "hit the wall" late in the season and he struggled mightily in the Steelers two playoff games. New England came to Pittsburgh and won the AFC crown on the Steelers home field for the second time in four years. But the Steelers knew they had found something in the young quarterback and it was only a matter of time. One year to be exact.
9. 1994 (12-4) (1-1 postseason) - The Steelers finished the regular season with their best record since 1979. Home field advantage didn't help the Steelers in the title game against the underdog Chargers. Pittsburgh seemed to dominate the game but had trouble putting points on the board.
Late in the game Stan Humphries hit on his second 43 yard touchdown pass to give San Diego an unexpected lead. Neil O'Donnell drove the Steelers the length of the field but failed to convert on fourth and goal at the three yard line. The Steelers missed a great opportunity to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since the glory days of the 70's.
8. 1995 (11-5) (2-1 postseason) - "Three more yards" was the battle cry going into the 1995 season and the Steelers made good on the promise. It wasn't easy as the Steelers lost All-World cornerback Rod Woodson in the opener and struggled to a 3-4 record early in the season.
Surprisingly the Steelers turned to the passing game and rode Neil O'Donnell's arm to the postseason. Pittsburgh held off the pesky Colts in the AFC Championship game and advanced to Super Bowl XXX to face the mighty Cowboys.
The underdog Steelers nearly pulled off the upset, but O'Donnell's costly interceptions cost Pittsburgh a chance for Lombardi trophy number five. The Steelers would have to wait for another chance at "one for the thumb".
7. 2005 (11-5) (4-0 postseason) - Pittsburgh finally got that fifth ring with a victory in Super Bowl XL. It wasn't easy. The Steelers stood at 7-5 with four weeks to go in the season and were a long shot to make the playoffs. That's when they got hot and reeled off eight straight wins to clinch the title.
They entered the postseason as the sixth seed and had to win all three playoff games on the road just to advance to the Super Bowl. They became the first sixth seed to win it all and in the process sent legendary Jerome Bettis off to retirement as a champion.
6. 1974 (10-3-1) (3-0 postseason) - The first Steelers' Super Bowl team overcame some adversity to claim the title. They started the season with a quarterback controversy that wasn't settled until Bradshaw seized control of the job down the stretch. He played well in the final few games and continued his hot play in the playoffs, finishing as the highest rated passer during the postseason for 1974.
The Steelers defense was simply dominant as they allowed less than 100 yards rushing total during the three playoff games including a paltry 17 in the victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl IX. Unfortunately for the rest of the NFL, the Steelers were just getting started.
5. 2008 (12-4) (3-0 postseason) - With an exciting come from behind win in Super Bowl XLIII over the Cardinals, the Steelers became the first franchise in NFL history to win six Super Bowls. The Steelers had the number one ranked defense in the league and a quarterback with a knack for fourth quarter comebacks.
Pittsburgh played one of the toughest schedules in recent memory and had to beat their tough division rival Baltimore three times. All three games were brutal and came down to the wire, including the AFC Championship game that wasn't decided until Troy Polamalu returned an interception for the clinching touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger took a step toward being considered an elite quarterback with his clutch Super Bowl performance.
4. 1979 (12-4) (3-0 postseason) - The final Championship team of the 70's was one of my personal favorites. The defense was still one of the best in the league, although not as dominant as the '74-'76 teams. The offense had become explosive, unlike the ground control teams of the early 70's.
This Steelers team was capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. They proved their ability in Super Bowl XIV against the pesky Rams as they were forced to rally in the fourth quarter to win it. As always, Bradshaw came through with an incredible fourth quarter performance to lock up MVP honors and the Steelers rode off into the sunset with a fourth Super Bowl triumph in as many tries during the 70's.
3. 1975 (12-2) (3-0 postseason) - This Steelers team was pretty much dominant from start to finish. They won 11 straight games at one point before dropping a meaningless final game to the Rams. The defense was simply awesome and the offense was starting to open up a little more with the emergence of Lynn Swann as a major playmaker.
In Super Bowl X, the Steel Curtain sacked Roger Staubach seven times and snagged three interceptions as the Steelers won back to back titles.
2. 1976 (10-4) (1-1 postseason) - Considered by some to be the best Steelers team ever, the 1976 team had arguably the greatest defense of all-time. Pittsburgh won their final nine games, five by shutout, and allowed only 28 points in the other four combined. They dominated opponents week after week.
The only thing that kept this team from winning an unprecedented third consecutive Super Bowl title was injuries. The Steelers lost Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, both of whom had rushed for over 1000 yards that season, to injuries the week before the AFC Championship game in Oakland. The Steelers fell to the Raiders that day, but the accomplishments of this Steelers team will never be forgotten by those who witnessed them.
1. 1978 (14-2) (3-0 postseason) - The most complete Steelers team in history, the 1978 squad won more games than any Steelers team ever. They had pro bowl caliber players at every position. They had a great defense. Franco still carried the ball with authority, and Swann and Stallworth had developed into the most dangerous receiving duo in the league.
The Steelers dominated the AFC playoffs, dispatching the Broncos 33-10 and Oilers 34-5. They met the equally talented defending champion Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII and won an epic battle 35-31. Bradshaw ended up being the NFL MVP and the Super Bowl MVP. Steve Sabol of NFL Films has stated that he believes the 1978 Steelers are the greatest team in NFL History. Who could argue?
So, there you have it. That completes my list of the 15 greatest teams in Steelers' history.
I hope you enjoyed it.
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