The Pittsburgh Steelers managed nine wins during the 2018 season (and one tie). That left the duo of Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin at 115 wins together since joining forces in 2007, in Roethlisberger’s fourth season in the NFL, and Tomlin’s first as a head coach.
Earlier that season, in their Week Five victory over the Atlanta Falcons, they reached victory number 108 together, which broke a tie with Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw for the third-most wins by any head coach and quarterback duo in the history of the game.
Yesterday, after rattling off two wins to start the 2020 season, Tomlin and Roethlisberger surpassed Don Shula and Dan Marino with their 117th win together to become the second-winningest pair in NFL history. Unfortunately, it’s very highly likely that that is about as far as it will go, because the only pair ahead of them is Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
With today’s win, Coach Tomlin & Ben Roethlisberger now have the third-most regular season wins by a head coach-quarterback tandem in NFL history, passing Coach Don Shula & Dan Marino (116). pic.twitter.com/EznRls9t0B
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 20, 2020
At least, it would have been the second-most all-time, had Sean Payton and Drew Brees not managed to sneak in and use Roethlisberger’s injured season a year ago to surpass them.
Even though Brady is no longer with the Patriots, and Belichick doesn’t look like he’ll be following Brady any time soon, the reality is that their lead is virtually insurmountable. Those two over the past two decades compiled 197 wins together.
To put that into perspective, that’s 80 more wins than Roethlisberger and Tomlin have together. That’s five more perfect seasons, starting now. Assuming they could even average 12 wins a season, it would take them six more years after this one just to get there. It’s not impossible, but it is extremely unrealistic. The odds of Roethlisberger even playing that long are low.
But that’s a discussion for another time. The fact that the Steelers have managed to win 117 games since 2007 when Tomlin and Roethlisberger are together is an enormous accomplishment, especially when you consider that it’s the third-most ever.
Of course, that’s because they have had such remarkable longevity. Peyton Manning won 141 games during his 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, which is truly stellar. But they came over the span of three different head coaches.
What is realistic is that they can overtake Brees and Payton again, because Brees will be 42 years old in January, and is likely playing season-by-season at this point. The Saints’ combo has added 10 more wins since reaching 117 in their win against the Carolina Panthers in Week 15 of the 2018 season, just a week before beating the Steelers and crushing their playoff hopes.
They could add another tonight against the Raiders. But it would take a very surprising season, and likely another Brees injury, for Tomlin and Roethlisberger have a shot at taking the number two spot this season.