I was scrolling through Dave’s Seven Shots article from last Sunday and dove into the link he posted of Joe Greene’s interview with John Clayton, on Clayton’s podcast, Schooled. It was a great segment and fun to hear Clayton – who covered Mean Joe back in the day – and Greene reminisce.
That interview was actually awhile ago but with this being the last weekend of the offseason, I figured we would take one look back.
There’s ton of great information in the interview but one thing Greene said really stuck out. He was referencing how dominant his teams were and how they never lost to a “bad” opponent.
“John, I don’t recall us losing – once we established ourselves as a Super Bowl champion and a contender – we didn’t lose to anyone under .500. Anyone who shouldn’t beat us. We lost to teams who were obviously capable. None of those teams who were way under .500. What I’m talking about now is consistency. We had a degree of consistency about us. I think that was because of Chuck Noll and the leadership he provided and he shared with the team and the way he coached.”
Though you may think that’s hyperbole, losses forgotten by time, Greene is astonishingly accurate. From 1972 to 1979, the heart of the dynasty, the Steelers suffered just one loss to a team who would finish the year below .500. That came in 1979, a 34-10 upset by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Not even in 1976, when injuries decimated the offense and the team got off to a lousy start, did they lose to an inferior opponent. It was a remarkable run.
One of the biggest criticisms of Mike Tomlin has been losing to bad teams. The studies done have their own potential flaws and it’s a discussion that’s up for debate. There’s also the linking cause for that, the claim the Steelers come into games “unprepared,” a separate, unsubstantiated debate.
But there’s no denying the Steelers of the 70s never slipped up to teams they “should” beat.
Of course, to be fair, it’s a larger league with more parity and two extra games on the slate. It’s harder to win, harder to gain an edge. But it’s something the Steelers must accomplish in order to secure home field advantage. As dominant as the New England Patriots are, there’s no margin for error.