The Pittsburgh Steelers are not only the seventh-oldest franchise in NFL history, but they are perhaps the most successful franchise in the sport. The Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles in franchise history and have been to eight (6-2), both tied for most in the modern-era NFL. They did most of their damage in the mid to late 1970’s, where they won four titles in six seasons.
Kids today perceive the Patriots the same way their parents perceive the Steelers. The Steelers won back-to-back titles in 1974 and 1975, then did it again in 1978 and 1979. The Brady/Belichick combo consisted of Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll, although the team was recognized most for their defense. From 1972-79, Pittsburgh went 88-27 in the regular season and never missed the playoffs, and won the AFC Central in seven of eight seasons.
In the 12 years that followed, Noll only won two additional playoff games. He was let go in 1991 after 23 seasons with the team, and replaced by Bill Cowher. Noll and Cowher continued to show remarkable consistency in the regular season through the next two decades, but didn’t experience the same postseason success. The Steelers went to Super Bowl XXX in Cowher’s fourth season, but they were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys.
Over the next ten seasons, the Steelers struggled with quarterback consistency. It wasn’t until drafting Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 that the team once again became a postseason contender. Roethlisberger led the Steelers to the AFC Championship as a rookie in 2004, and they were once again Super Bowl champions the following season in 2005.
Bill Cowher retired after 15 seasons in 2007, and the Steelers were once again looking for a head coach. Just like with Noll and Cowher, they went with a defensive-minded coach. Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin was the hire, and he became the Steelers first African-American head coach.
With Tomlin and Roethlisberger leading, the Steelers are once again the model of NFL consistency. Mike Tomlin has never finished below .500 in a regular season as head coach, and became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl in 2004. But after two Super Bowl trips in his first four seasons, the Steelers haven’t been even as close as the AFC Championship since 2010.
Overall, the Steelers are the winningest franchise in NFL history. The Steelers have just nine losing seasons since 1970. For comparison the Patriots have 13, the Cowboys have 12, and the Cleveland Browns have 27.