With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 26-14 victory last night over the Cleveland Browns, they have secured eight wins and a tie in a 17-game season. You know what that means. This is not a drill. Your favorite statistic is back. Once again, for the 18th year in a row, the Steelers have not had a losing season.
For 18 years, the Steelers have been one of the most competitive teams in the NFL, winning two championships in that span, reaching the Super Bowl three times, and appearing in five AFC Championship games. That time spans the entirety of head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure of 15 years, and all of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s career.
In fact, it’s the fact that the Steelers had a losing season that they were able to draft Roethlisberger at all, 18 years ago. They went 6-10 during the 2003 season with Tommy Maddox at quarterback. They drafted Roethlisberger 11th overall in 2004, went 15-1 that year, and reached the conference finals. They won the Super Bowl a year later, and then again three years after that.
There have been some blemishes along the way. They have gone 8-8 four times (in 2006, 2012, 2013, and 2019 [the year Roethlisberger was injured]). They have missed the postseason five times—six if they don’t make it this year—though they’ve actually never finished worst than the seventh seed.
With yesterday’s win, Tomlin now has the all-time record for the most consecutive seasons without a losing record to begin a career with 15, surpassing the mark set by Marty Schottenheimer, who did not have a losing season until his 15th (he also had 10 or more wins nine times, as has Tomlin).
At 8-7-1, Pittsburgh can still finish with a winning record this year if they beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18, or if they tie. They have to win if they want to make it to the postseason, however, and they’ll also need the Indianapolis Colts to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and for the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers not to tie one another.
Fans hate whenever the fact that the Steelers haven’t had a losing season in a long time is brought up, but while it might not sound remarkable, the phrasing itself is also misleading. He hasn’t simply treaded water for a decade and a half. He has one of the best winning percentages of any long-tenured coach in the history of the game with a .642 winning percentage.
That’s ninth all-time among head coaches with 100 or more wins, behind only, in order by winning percentage, John Madden, George Allen, George Halas, Don Shula, Paul Brown, Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, and George Seifert. Of those eight, only Belichick and Seifert are not currently in the Hall of Fame, and the former will be going in as soon as possible.
And Seifert will probably make it as well. Ironically, Seifert is often accused of winning with Bill Walsh’s players, much like Tomlin is accused of the same with Bill Cowher’s players. Seifert had a 1-15 season, though, albeit at the very end of his career. His .766 winning percentage in eight years as the 49ers’ head coach is absolutely insane, no matter who he inherited…but I digress.
No losing seasons. Bask in it.