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

YearCoach WinsLossesTiesFinishOutcome
1970Noll590Third
1971Noll680Second
1972Noll1130Division Champion
1973Noll1040Second
1974Noll1031Division ChampionSuper Bowl Champion
1975Noll1220Division ChampionSuper Bowl Champion
1976Noll1040Division Champion
1977Noll950Division Champion
1978Noll1420Division ChampionSuper Bowl Champion
1979Noll1240Division ChampionSuper Bowl Champion
1980Noll970Third
1981Noll880Second
1982Noll630Second
1983Noll1060Division Champion
1984Noll970Division Champion
1985Noll790Third
1986Noll6100Third
1987Noll870Third
1988Noll5110Fourth
1989Noll970Third
1990Noll970Third
1991Noll790Second
1992Cowher1150Division Champion
1993Cowher970Second
1994Cowher1240Division Champion
1995Cowher1150Division ChampionAFC Champion
1996Cowher1060Division Champion
1997Cowher1150Division Champion
1998Cowher790Third
1999Cowher6100Fourth
2000Cowher970Third
2001Cowher1330Division Champion
2002Cowher1051Division Champion
2003Cowher6100Third
2004Cowher1510Division Champion
2005Cowher1150SecondSuper Bowl Champion
2006Cowher880Second
2007Tomlin1060Division Champion
2008Tomlin1240Division ChampionSuper Bowl Champion
2009Tomlin970Second
2010Tomlin1240Division ChampionAFC Champion
2011Tomlin1240Second

  • 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.

  • http://pete1.myopenid.com/ Pete

    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.