The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to do battle with their divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, in Saturday night’s Wildcard matchup.
While the Bengals have turned in a more impressive year in terms of wins and losses, The ‘Burgh is usually one of the more dependable teams in the NFL Playoffs, and according to FootballDB, they own Cincinnati in the series (57 wins out of 92 games played), including nine wins in their last 12 meetups.
While picking a “best five Cincinnati teams” list would be somewhat simple — just look for playoff and Super Bowl appearances — the Pittsburgh Steelers have made it difficult, capturing more Super Bowl Championships than any other NFL franchise (six) with hopes of taking on a seventh for the 2015-2016 Season.
Only time will tell if that happens. In the meantime, here is a rundown of the best Pittsburgh Steelers teams to ever take the field.
5. 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers
The 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers stand out as one of the best in franchise history, posting 10 wins and capturing the team’s first Super Bowl Championship. This was the beginning of what would be a decade-long dynasty. However, it would not be without its bumps, as Pittsburgh dropped one against the Bengals, one against the Houston Oilers, and were thoroughly routed in a 17-0 shutout against the Oakland Raiders. Amid this, the team also posted a rare tie game — a 35-35 overtime thriller against the Denver Broncos.
In the playoffs, they would knock off the Buffalo Bills and avenge the Raiders loss on their way to a 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Super Bowl IX.
4. 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers
This was the year Pittsburgh brought home an unheard-of fourth Super Bowl title. Keep in mind, this was just the 14th held, and when they downed the Los Angeles Rams 31-19, they were posting an SB winning percentage of close to 30 percent. Unfortunately for the Steelers, it would be their last title for a very long time.
The vitals: a 12-4 regular season, playoff wins against the Miami Dolphins (34-14) and the Houston Oilers (27-13), last Super Bowl win of the Terry Bradshaw-quarterbacked era.
3. 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers
This was the Pittsburgh Steelers organization in its prime: a 12-2 regular season with playoff victories over the Baltimore Colts (28-10) and the Oakland Raiders (16-10). Furthermore, Bradshaw and the legendary Steel Curtain defense got a chance to decide once and for all who “America’s team” actually was with a head-to-head finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
Pittsburgh ended up scoring two touchdowns in the final quarter to pull ahead and hold on to a 21-17 victory. This team featured Bradshaw near the top of his game as well as future Hall-of-Famers Mel Blount, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, and Mike Webster.
2. 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers
The 2008 Steelers were known for their hard-hitting defense led by Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, and a somewhat healthy Ben Roethlisberger, who was able to capture his second Super Bowl Championship despite being in the league for a very short time.
When it came to wins and losses, the Steelers posted an impressive 12-4 record and then kept the momentum going into the playoffs past the often problematic bye week. The grand finale came at Super Bowl XLIII when they faced off against an underdog Arizona Cardinals troupe, led by quarterback Kurt Warner.
Despite taking a lead into the half thanks in part to a last-second, 99-yard Harrison interception/TD return, Pittsburgh found itself against the odds, down 23-20 with 2:37 remaining and 78 yards to go. Roethlisberger commanded the offense to the Cardinals’ six-yard line with less than a minute left and found Santonio Holmes in the end zone with 35 seconds to go, taking the ‘Burgh to its sixth Super Bowl title with a 27-23 final. It was a thriller viewed by close to 100 million people.
1. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers
There is an old saying. When you win, act like you’ve been there before. This was Pittsburgh’s third time to “be there,” and this Steelers team had to fend off a vengeful and equally matched Cowboys unit following their defeat of Dallas at the end of the 1975 season.
The Super Bowl XIII contest went down to the wire with Dallas staying close through three quarters and pushing the Steelers to what many call one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time and a 35-31 escape. The victory also ensured that the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers team would hold the best record in franchise history at 17-2 (playoffs included).
As for the talent list, see the 1975 entry above, paragraph two.
Which Pittsburgh Steelers team do you think was the greatest ever? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Pittsburgh Steelers Facebook]