There is nobody that can deny—successfully, anyway—the tremendous amount of accomplishments that the Pittsburgh Steelers as a franchise have to boast about in the modern history of the NFL, since the merger that was finalized and put into action beginning with the 1970 season.
No team has won more games than they have in that span. No team has gone to the playoffs more often, or won more division titles, or won more playoff games, or participated in conference championships, or, most importantly, won more Super Bowl trophies. They are the only team in NFL history who can claim to have six Lombardi trophies in their display case.
But that could change in two weeks’ time as the New England Patriots, who knocked them out of the AFC Championship game a year ago only to go on to win the Super Bowl, are headed back to the game once again—their record 10th in franchise history, and their eighth since 2001—with the opportunity to win their sixth Super Bowl.
Not that the Steelers are unfamiliar with not being on the top. They were only the seventh franchise to win the Super Bowl, in Super Bowl IX, with the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins having already won twice.
But then they won twice. In a row. In the interim, the Dallas Cowboys also won their second, making it four teams who had won two Super Bowls in the first 12. And then Pittsburgh won again, the first team to win three. And then again, the first team to win four.
It would be a decade before anybody would catch up, but eventually the San Francisco 49ers did. From 1981 to 1989, they won four times, going back-to-back in 1988 and 1989, giving them four. And then Dallas was right behind them, winning their third and fourth in 1992 and 1993.
The 49ers got back on top and became the first NFL franchise to win a fifth Super Bowl, doing so the next year in 1994. The Steelers returned to the championship game the following year in 1995, facing the Cowboys, for the first time in a decade and a half, to regain a share of the lead, only to see the Cowboys grab it instead.
It was another decade before they would get ‘one for the thumb’, winning in 2005, but then in 2008, they were back on top again, with Ben Roethlisberger’s history game-winning drive in Super Bowl XL___ giving them six.
Their reign at the top has only been threatened once before since then. The 49ers returned to the Super Bowl in 2012, but they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. This will be just the third time in NFL history—including the Steelers’—that a team will have the chance to win a sixth Lombardi.
And you can be sure that the Patriots, who have won two of the last three Super Bowls, will be the favorites. They would love to overthrow the Steelers’ accolades.