If it’s felt like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense hasn’t played a bad game in awhile, you’re not wrong. In a year where offenses are scoring more than ever, they’re currently on a streak only a handful of teams have accomplished over the last two decades.
Not only are the Steelers the only defense this season not to allow 30+ points in a game, they’re on an active, 30 game streak of holding teams under that mark.
The last time Pittsburgh’s defense gave up 30+ points in a game was Week 1 in 2019 against the New England Patriots when the Steelers lost 33-3. Since then, they’ve kept teams in the 20s or lower.
Since 2000, the Steelers are just the seventh defense with such a streak. Here are the units who’ve done it.
1. New England (2005-2007) – 39 games
2. Philadelphia (2000-2002) – 38 games
3. Tampa Bay (2001-2003) – 31 games
4. San Francisco (2010-2012) – 31 games
5. Jacksonville (2004-2006) – 30 games
6. Washington (2007-2009) – 30 games
7. Pittsburgh (2019-Present) – 30 games
If you want to look back even further, since the 1970 merger, the Steelers are just the 19th defense to do this. It’s the second longest streak for the Steelers. The only that tops it is the 1971-1973 defense, who did it in 32 straight games. Not even the height of the dynasty, including the 1976 defense, had such a feat.
The era in which this is happening makes things all the more impressive. It’s not a coincidence that five of the six other defenses listed above did it before the 2010 decade. Offenses have exploded since then, high-scoring college spread systems trickling up to the NFL. Offenses are more refined, better schemed, and athletes are bigger, faster, stronger than ever.
Heading into the final week of the regular season, offenses are averaging 24.7 points per game in 2020. That will be an NFL record. It’s a noticeable leap even from the last few years.
Points Per Game (2015-2020)
2020 – 24.7
2019 – 22.8
2018 – 23.3
2017 – 21.7
2016 – 22.8
2015 – 22.8
And yet the Steelers’ defense has found a way to be dominant the past two years. Despite the offensive struggles of 2019. Pushing through the numerous injuries of 2020.
Some additional perspective. Since last year, every single team except the Steelers have at least three games of allowing 30+ points. 29 of them have done it five or more times. The Lions, Jaguars, Dolphins, and Raiders have given up 30+ in a whopping 14 games. Pittsburgh’s sitting at just one. One.
Hopefully this streak remains intact through Sunday’s game. There’s a chance it could fall, knowing Pittsburgh is likely to hold out a few key players and limit others. Whenever the streak does end, appreciate how well this defense has played. As offenses get better and better, who knows when we’ll see a feat like this again.