The Pittsburgh Steelers have been the NFL’s final unbeaten team for several weeks now. They were hoping to keep that stretch going, but the Washington Football Team, who are now on a three-game winning streak with Alex Smith under center, had other ideas, and suddenly, the champagne corks are popping in Miami.
That is, of course, a reference to the Miami Dolphins and the 1972 Super Bowl-winning squad. They remain the league’s only unbeaten team in modern NFL history, having gone 14-0 during the regular season (before the season was expanded to 16 games) and going on to win the Super Bowl.
Since then, every time the league’s final unbeaten team loses a game, the alumni from that squad celebrate by popping a bottle of champagne, knowing that their unique legacy remains secure for at least another year.
— Larry Csonka (@Larry_Csonka39) December 8, 2020
The longest they have had to wait to pop that bottle came during the 2007 season, and they were no doubt sweating. The New England Patriots actually went 16-0 during the regular season, and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. They had a late lead over the New York Giants, but a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress in the final minute put them over the top.
This is the first time that the Steelers have been the last team to give the Dolphins a run. Their longest undefeated streak prior to this season was 7-0, which they did all the way back in 1978. Since then, they had never done better than 4-0 to start a season.
Of course, nobody expected the Steelers to be 11-0. There were plenty of people who knew that they would be good, but nobody had them being the best team in the NFL. What they did have was consistency, but that has been lacking in recent weeks.
They put up at least 24 points in each of their first 10 games of the season, but they have been held under that in each of the past two games now. They were able to beat the Baltimore Ravens, 17-14, but lost today, 23-17.
It didn’t help that by the end of the game they were without both of their starting cornerbacks. Offensively, they were missing their starting running back and center. It was also their first game without outside linebacker Bud Dupree, and Robert Spillane was injured late as well.
What also didn’t help was a pair of failed fourth-down conversions, more than half a dozen dropped passes, and the fact that they didn’t have Chris Boswell. Although Matthew Wright didn’t miss a kick, Boswell’s absence factored into their decision to go for it on fourth down late.