It took them 13 games—they would certainly have preferred to have gotten it sooner than that, but this night the Pittsburgh Steelers secured their eighth victory of the season, guaranteeing that they would, once again, avoid a losing season.
The last time the Steelers have lost more games than they won would trace itself back beyond the Ben Roethlisberger era. In 2003, Pittsburgh went 6-10, earning the 11th-overall pick that year, which is what enabled them to draft the big-bodied, big-armed quarterback out of Miami of Ohio, after the Cleveland Browns passed on him.
Roethlisberger has been the single biggest reason over the following 16 years that the Steelers have been able to keep themselves from falling below the .500 mark in any one year along the way. But this has to be the most remarkable of all, considering that his official record for 2019 is…0-2.
That’s right, the Steelers have now won eight games, with three remaining, this season with quarterbacks (that’s multiple) other than Roethlisberger. Mason Rudolph is the quarterback of record on five of those victories, though one of them would be the win over the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago in which Devlin Hodges replaced him with a deficit in the second half. Hodges, of course, has the other three wins, and really is responsible for four.
Courtesy of Ryan Scarpino, the Steelers’ 16-year active streak of non-losing seasons is tied for the second-longest in NFL history with the San Francisco 49ers, who duplicated that feat between 1983 and 1998. The only team to have done better is the New England Patriots, who have already secured their 19th consecutive winning season in 2019.
A win on Sunday would mark the #Steelers 16th consecutive season with at least 8 wins. It would tie the 49ers (1983-1998) for the second-longest such streak since the merger. The only team with a longer streak is the Patriots who are at 19 (2001-Present).
— scarps (@scarpizio) December 3, 2019
Within this 16-year streak is 13 years from Mike Tomlin, who has never had a losing season. They have twice gone 8-8, in both 2012 and 2013, which has been the lowest mark of his professional tenure. They also went 9-7 in 2009 and 9-6-1 in 2018. Both of those seasons featured stunning late-season collapses.
This season, the team started out 0-3, knocked over the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, and then lost in overtime on a JuJu Smith-Schuster fumble to the Baltimore Ravens to begin 1-4. Since then, they have posted a 7-1 record. The only team who has been hotter than them during that span is the Ravens, who have currently won nine consecutive games, easily the longest active streak.
Pittsburgh has won three in a row since dropping an ugly one to the Browns, in which Rudolph threw four interceptions. They can bring it to six by the end of the year with wins over the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Ravens in the finale.