Half a season ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers secured their eighth win of the 2020 season. In doing so, it ensured that the team would not finish below .500 for yet another year, marking the 17th consecutive season in which the organization would post a non-losing season—or every year since they drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.
It broke a tie for the second-longest streak of non-losing seasons since the NFL-AFL merger, and, to the best of my knowledge, the third-longest streak of all time. But with the New England Patriots securing a losing season in 2020, it now opens up the door for the Steelers to post the longest streak of all time.
The Patriots posted 20 consecutive non-losing seasons from 2000 through the 2019 season, coinciding with Tom Brady’s stay there. Bill Belichick was just one shy of tying Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys for the longest consecutive streak of non-losing seasons, who did so from 1965 and on for 21 years.
New England’s loss gives the Steelers the longest active streak of non-losing seasons, but they have work to do if they want to keep it going. They will need to finish no worse than 8-8 for the next three seasons to tie the Patriots for the longest streak since the merger, and four years to tie the Cowboys for the longest all-time—or five to break it.
There is a strong likelihood that the team is going to look rather different four or five years from now. Roethlisberger will almost surely be retired by then. Will head coach Mike Tomlin still be here? It’s really impossible to guess how long he plans to coach.
Although they managed to go 8-8 while getting eight wins out of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in 2019—Roethlisberger went 0-2 in the two games that he started that year—it still stands to reason that the Steelers’ hopes of setting this new record hinge on finding themselves a successor at the quarterback position who will be able to step in and help them win games from the get go, or at least keep them competitive.
Of course, the Steelers are much more interested in securing a nice, long postseason winning streak right about now, starting with a 4-0 record for the 2020 postseason, which would take them on through the Super Bowl and earn them a seventh Lombardi Trophy—which would set another record that they would be happy to no longer share with the Patriots.