With their victorious Super Bowl run during the 2018 season, the New England Patriots did not simply wipe the veneer of exclusivity off of the prospect of holding six Lombardi Trophies from the Pittsburgh Steelers, they also passed the AFC North team for the most postseason victories in NFL history.
Going 3-0 in the 2018 postseason, the Patriots went from 34 victories to 37, which is one more than the Steelers have, at 36. Since they got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, New England was not able to extend their lead, at least, with Pittsburgh missing the postseason altogether.
Still, they found competition creeping up. The Dallas Cowboys entered 2019 with the third-most postseason victories of all time with 35, but missed the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers entered the year with 34. Had they advanced to the Super Bowl, they would have tied the Steelers at 36, with the opportunity to join the Patriots with 37, but the San Francisco 49ers helped them hold off the cheeseheads for now.
The 49ers, on that note, entered the 2019 season number five on the all-time postseason victories list with 31. They are currently at 33 and could reach 34 by securing a victory in Super Bowl LIV. Their opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs, are only sitting at 12 total postseason victories, three of which have come in the past two years. They did not win a playoff game between the 1994 and 2014 seasons.
The Steelers have the second-most total number of postseason appearances in NFL history, two games behind the Cowboys. Dallas has appeared in 63 playoffs games in their history, while the Steelers have appeared in 61. New England climbed to 58 total appearances this year, while the Packers reached the same number. The 49ers are now at 55, including their pending Super Bowl LIV contest.
Of course, the Steelers have not been able to participate in the postseason over the course of the past two years. Prior to that, they did advance in four consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2017. They went 3-4 during that span, reaching the AFC Championship Game in 2016. Despite having a first-round bye in 2017, they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round that year, so they have not recorded a victory over the past three years.
Will 2020 yield better opportunities for the Steelers to better their postseason statistics? So much of that seems to ride on the health of Ben Roethlisberger. With the defense taking major strides during the 2019 season, looking like a sustainable championship-level defense with an even competent offense, there is reason for optimism, but if they can’t get the offense to where it needs to be, they could continue slipping back.