Being the fifth oldest franchise in the sport, with their 81st season upon us this year, I would like to look at what is the best NFL record the Steelers hold.
So, let’s start with a look at some of the records the Steelers currently hold.
We already know that the Steelers have played in the most Super Bowls (eight, tied with Dallas), and that they have won the most (six). But they haven’t won the most NFL championships. In fact, it’s not even close.
Interestingly, the NFL began holding a championship game in 1933, the same year that the Steelers were founded.
In the first 40 years of the NFL Championship game, while the Steelers were wallowing in the basement, the Packers, Bears, Giants, and Browns were winning championships. Green Bay leads the league with 13 NFL Championships, including four Super Bowls. The Bears have nine championships with one Super Bowl. New York and Cleveland each have eight championships, but while the Giants have four Super Bowl wins, all eight of the Browns’ championships occurred before the Super Bowl era.
So, what are the best records the Steelers have and why?
Highest passer rating and completion percentage by a rookie. Most wins to start a career. Most wins in a season by a rookie.
I remember the 2004 draft like it was yesterday. I couldn’t help but wonder why the Steelers would take a quarterback. We had Tommy “Gun” Maddox, who looked to be a very good, if not quite great quarterback.
In this age of pro-ready quarterbacks, it’s easy to over look the fact that Big Ben Roethlisberger came into his rookie season behind Maddox, expecting to sit and learn. That was standard operating procedure.
Pressed into service in the Steelers second game, Ben couldn’t save a win against the hated Baltimore Ravens. But after that, all he did was win.
Ben Roethlisberger won 15 consecutive games to start his career. The most ever. He won 13 games in his first season. The most ever. And he is still holds the records for highest passer rating and completion percentage by a rookie.
He might not always make the right play, and he might hold the ball too long at times, but Ben Roethlisberger was, and continues to be, a rare talent in the NFL.
Most rushing touchdowns in a season (post-merger)
In the modern age of the NFL, where the game is played primarily through the air, rushing touchdowns are looking more and more like a thing of the past.
And it is in the past that we find the single season record for the most rushing touchdowns in a season.
In 1976, the Steelers rushed for 33 touchdowns.
This is second behind only the 36 put up by the Packers in 1962.
But, again, this was a different era, when running the ball was the primary method for moving it down the field. To me, that makes this record even more impressive. When everyone is running the ball, the guys who set records running the ball stand out.
Single player with most NFL points, most season with 100+ points, most FG attempts and completions
Kickers are overlooked, undervalued, maligned, and mistreated. But, holy crap are they important.
Ask people in Buffalo if they know who Scott Norwood is. Ask people in Baltimore who Billy Cundiff is. A good kicker is a luxury, and having one who is reliable, year after year, is often a luxury many teams never get to experience.
The Steelers had the services of Gary Anderson from 1982-1994. All he did in his Hall of Fame-worthy career was set every one of the records above. Granted, he didn’t do it all with the Steelers, but the majority was in black and gold.
If he ever gets into the Hall, he should go in as a Steeler.
Played in most conference championships (15) and hosted most conference championships (11)
Both of these records speak to the success the Steelers have enjoyed, and their consistently great play during the regular season.
If you are playing the conference championship game, chances are you had at least a home game or two during the playoffs. To do that, you have to have a good regular season.
If you are hosting the conference championship, it usually means you were the number one seed in the conference going into the playoffs.
This is an impressive record, for sure, but just imagine something for a moment. The Steelers have lost the AFC Championship seven times! How many Super Bowls might they have won if they had gone to a few more?
Most playoff victories
For 40 seasons, the Steelers were the dregs of the NFL. They appeared in the postseason once in those 40 years. They were known as a tough, gritty, hard-hitting team that no one liked to play, but they never seemed to win.
That all changed in 1972, when they appeared in the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. They would go to the playoffs eight straight times and win four Super Bowls in that span.
Beginning in 1969 when they drafted “Mean” Joe Greene, the Steelers built a dynasty through the draft, a model of modern day football operations. In the years to come, they would draft Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount (1970); Jack Ham (1971); Franco Harris (1972); and in 1974, they drafted the single greatest class in NFL history when they took Mike Webster, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Jack Lambert.
Did you notice anything about those all those men? If you guessed they are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, give yourself a gold star.
That they are tied with the Dallas Cowboys with 33 playoff victories is not the amazing part. The amazing part is that they have had 32 of those playoff victories since 1972. The amazing part is that in the same span, the Cowboys only have 27. With their recent run of success, the 49ers have pushed past the Cowboys for second, but they are still behind the Black and Gold.
And that, my friends, is the very best NFL record held by the Steelers.