Hey kid, d’you like wins? Then the Pittsburgh Steelers are your dealer, or at least they have been for the past half-century. With today’s 19-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, in fact, they became the first team since the NFL-AFL merger to record 500 victories in regular season play. Nobody else is within 20 wins of Pittsburgh, according to Steelers PR man Michael Bertsch.
The NFL-AFL merger officially took place in 1970 and thus encompasses very nearly the entirety of the era of the team beginning with Chuck Noll, who took over as head coach in 1969 (and won one game). They still had losing records in each of his next two seasons before going on their dynastic run that included four Super Bowl titles.
This 53-year span since the merger includes winning records for all three of the team’s head coaches since then. Noll (beginning in his second season in 1970) went 192-135-1 from 1970 to 1991 before Bill Cowher took over as head coach. He did pretty well for himself, posting a win-loss record of 149-90-1 across 15 seasons from 1992 through 2006.
Mike Tomlin has been running the ship since 2007, now in his 16th season, and today’s victory marks the 159th of his career, currently sitting at 159-90-2 a .632 winning percentage, which remains among the best marks among long-tenured head coaches in NFL history.
Granted, the 2022 season has not necessarily been kind to his numbers. That his fifth win of the season comes only in week 13 says everything you need to know about how things have gone—well, almost everything, though we’re not quite at the point of ‘a tale of two halves’ just yet.
The Steelers sat at 2-6 at their bye week in week 10. They are now 3-1 since then, however, and they have a relatively easy remaining schedule barring two matchups against the Baltimore Ravens. They face Baltimore next week and seem unlikely to be playing Lamar Jackson at quarterback after exiting today’s game with a knee injury.
Pittsburgh can finish at 10-7 this year at best, though that’s unlikely, as they would have to run the table over the remaining five games. if they can split with Baltimore, however, they could still potentially finish with a surprising winning record and backdoor their way into the postseason.
We still have to see how the rest of the year plays out, but with their fifth win, the Steelers are now being included in those ‘In The Hunt’ graphics examining the playoff seeding week by week. At the moment they’re still on the outside looking in with the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and New York Jets seeded in the Wildcard spots. The Cleveland Browns also currently own a tiebreaker over them, but they play again this year.