History Says Division Championship For Steelers In 2012

By Jeremy Hritz

Without question, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most storied teams in the history of the NFL, with several legendary players and coaches. With current head coach Mike Tomlin entering his sixth season with the Steelers, it is impressive to consider the performances of the teams he has led. To gain a true understanding of the Steelers success under Tomlin, it is first helpful to take a look at some statistics that stand out when analyzing the year-by-year record of the team since 1970.

Since 1970, the Steelers have claimed 20 division championships, six Super Bowl victories, and eight AFC Championship wins. In leaner years, the Steelers have accumulated ten second place finishes, ten third place finishes, and two fourth place finishes. During this time frame, the Steelers have enjoyed 21 season of ten wins or more, winning on average a little over nine games per season, and losing an average around six games per season. Most impressive is that nearly 50% of the time (48% to be exact), the Steelers win a division championship.

2011 was a season in which the Steelers played well, but seemed to ultimately be missing something. Regardless, the team still finished 12-4 and made the playoffs, which was only good enough for second place in the AFC North. As previously mentioned, the Steelers have finished second ten times since 1970, and following those seasons, they achieved a staggering seven division championships and one Super Bowl appearance (two other times they finished second again, and the jury is still out on 2012). Statistically speaking, following a second place finish, the Steelers have won a division championship over 70% of the time, so if you are a betting man, it could be a solid idea to put your money on the Steelers to win the AFC North crown this year.

Tomlin has proven to be a spectacular hire as head coach for the Steelers, though he was an unproven commodity when he was first introduced. Since beginning his head coaching career with the Steelers in 2007, Tomlin has averaged eleven wins and five losses per season, which ranks one higher than Bill Cowher’s career average (10), and two higher than Chuck Noll’s (9). Additionally, when comparing Tomlin to Noll and Cowher regarding wins in their first five seasons, Tomlin is ahead of Cowher by nearly a half of a game, and Noll by four and a half games.

The one component of both Noll and Cowher’s career that has escaped Tomlin has been the losing season. Noll racked up 30 losses in his first three seasons, while Cowher didn’t experience his first losing season until his seventh, when the Steelers finished 7-9, a season that was followed up by another deplorable season at 6-10. Thankfully, for the Steelers, the closest Tomlin came to a losing season was 9-7 in 2009 when the Steelers struggled on defense to close out games. Losing is something that catches up with all NFL coaches at some point, but let’s just hope 2012 isn’t that season for Tomlin. Conversely, let’s hope the rule of the second place finish holds true, and that the Steelers are again the kings of the North.

Steelers Year-By-Year Records Since 1970

Year Coach Wins Losses Ties Finish Outcome
1970 Noll 5 9 0 Third
1971 Noll 6 8 0 Second
1972 Noll 11 3 0 Division Champion
1973 Noll 10 4 0 Second
1974 Noll 10 3 1 Division Champion Super Bowl Champion
1975 Noll 12 2 0 Division Champion Super Bowl Champion
1976 Noll 10 4 0 Division Champion
1977 Noll 9 5 0 Division Champion
1978 Noll 14 2 0 Division Champion Super Bowl Champion
1979 Noll 12 4 0 Division Champion Super Bowl Champion
1980 Noll 9 7 0 Third
1981 Noll 8 8 0 Second
1982 Noll 6 3 0 Second
1983 Noll 10 6 0 Division Champion
1984 Noll 9 7 0 Division Champion
1985 Noll 7 9 0 Third
1986 Noll 6 10 0 Third
1987 Noll 8 7 0 Third
1988 Noll 5 11 0 Fourth
1989 Noll 9 7 0 Third
1990 Noll 9 7 0 Third
1991 Noll 7 9 0 Second
1992 Cowher 11 5 0 Division Champion
1993 Cowher 9 7 0 Second
1994 Cowher 12 4 0 Division Champion
1995 Cowher 11 5 0 Division Champion AFC Champion
1996 Cowher 10 6 0 Division Champion
1997 Cowher 11 5 0 Division Champion
1998 Cowher 7 9 0 Third
1999 Cowher 6 10 0 Fourth
2000 Cowher 9 7 0 Third
2001 Cowher 13 3 0 Division Champion
2002 Cowher 10 5 1 Division Champion
2003 Cowher 6 10 0 Third
2004 Cowher 15 1 0 Division Champion
2005 Cowher 11 5 0 Second Super Bowl Champion
2006 Cowher 8 8 0 Second
2007 Tomlin 10 6 0 Division Champion
2008 Tomlin 12 4 0 Division Champion Super Bowl Champion
2009 Tomlin 9 7 0 Second
2010 Tomlin 12 4 0 Division Champion AFC Champion
2011 Tomlin 12 4 0 Second
  • TJimmy

    When comparing Tomlin to Noll and Cowher, you can’t forget that a coach’s success often depends on the quality of his quarterback.

    Noll only won superbowls when he had Bradshaw, and Cowher didn’t win one until he had Ben behind center.

    How well will Tomlin do when Ben retires? Then maybe you can start talking winning percentages and draw comparisons. But even then, it’s still apples to oranges to some extent.

  • Noll’s first season with the Steelers in 1969 they went 1-13. But he had a plan and they were drafting future stars. Two more losing seasons follwed. From 1972 until 1984, the Steelers only missed the playoffs twice (1980 and 81). That’s 11 years of playoff appearances and 4 Super Bowl Championships. Having some great teams and a great QB certainly helped.

    Cowher had some good teams but no franchise QB until Roethlisberger came along. I agree with TJ. Tomlin will keep winning with Roethlisberger. If they are able to find another franchise QB after Roethlisberger retires, the teams will continue to win under Tomlin.

    One can win championships without a franchise QB but it’s very difficult to do.