Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh to Set NFL Record with 25th Regular-Season Matchup

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, right, and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talk before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will make NFL history Sunday when they meet in the regular season for the 25th time.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau (h/t ESPN's Jamison Hensley), Tomlin and Harbaugh will become the first head coaches in the NFL's Super Bowl era to face each other 25 times during the regular season. They previously shared the record of 24 with two other head coaching matchups—Tomlin vs. Marvin Lewis and Sid Gillman vs. Hank Stram.

When the Steelers and Ravens clash Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, first place in the AFC North will be on the line, as Pittsburgh is 6-0 and the Ravens are 5-1.

Tomlin and Harbaugh are two of the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, and since they are in the same division, they face each other twice a year during the regular season.

The matchup has been fairly even thus far, with Harbaugh's Ravens taking 13 games and Tomlin's Steelers winning 11. Of those 24 games, 16 have been decided by four points or less.

Since Tomlin became the head coach of the Steelers in 2007, Pittsburgh and Baltimore have dominated the AFC North. The Steelers have won six division titles during that time, and the Ravens, who hired Harbaugh in 2008, have won four.

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Given how good both the Steelers and Ravens have been for more than a decade and how competitive the games between them have been, Tomlin and Harbaugh figure to be closely linked for many years to come.

Despite that, Tomlin suggested that he doesn't think about how special the rivalry and relationship is between them in the heat of the moment during games:

"I think in moments like this or in the offseason and things of that nature, you get an opportunity, maybe, to appreciate it. But I think much like him, in the moment, they're nameless gray faces on the other sideline, man. You're just so caught up in the strategy or the decisions that need to be made. When you're playing good people, it's paramount that you play [well]."

By the time they retire, Tomlin and Harbaugh could go down as two of the greatest head coaches in NFL history. Tomlin is 139-74-1 (.652) with one Super Bowl to his credit, while Harbaugh is 123-75 (.621) with one Super Bowl win as well.

Remarkably, the Steelers have never finished worse than 8-8 under Tomlin, and they are just two wins away from accomplishing that feat for the 14th consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Ravens had just one losing season under Harbaugh in 12 campaigns entering 2020.

While Tomlin and Harbaugh will set the Super Bowl-era record for most regular-season games between head coaches Sunday, they have a ways to go before breaking the all-time NFL record.

Tomlin and Harbaugh will be third on that list behind George Halas vs. Curly Lambeau (48 times) and Lambeau vs. Steve Owen (28 times).

The Steelers and Ravens will meet for a second time this season in Week 12, and given how well both teams have played thus far, a clash in the playoffs could be in the cards as well.