Ordinarily this feature analyzes opponents' statistics, searching for signs of weakness and keys to defeating them. Not this week. I searched in vain for a pattern to defeating the Steelers. Shut down Antonio Brown and they just hurt you with the running game and the other receivers. Shut down the running game and Brown and company show you what Brown can do to you. Sure, you can try to control the game on the ground, run and run and run some more, bleed the clock, don't turn the ball over. If you can do it that'll work. But few teams can do that against a very stout Steelers run defense. Sure, blowing up the line of scrimmage with your pass rush, taking Ben Roethlisberger down multiple times and forcing multiple turnovers will do the trick, but again easier said than done, and forcing multiple turnovers is pretty much a formula for victory in any game against any team. After thoroughly analyzing what works against the Steelers over the last year and change, I came up with this: be a playoff team, or be a division rival. That's what beats the Steelers. I know the Jets don't qualify as the latter, and I'm pretty sure the Jets also won't qualify as the former. So I'm taking a different tack today. Which brings us to the stat of the week.
People talk about the Patriots Way and the Patriots dynasty, and for good reason. No NFL team has been as dominant since 2001. They just always seem to win and win and win, year in and year out, in dreary succession. But it wasn't always that way. Before the twin B's, Belichick and Brady, came to the land of the Pilgrims, the Patriots were known mostly for mediocrity and failure. Their history was much like Jets history, only without the championship. The Patriots dynasty has been built on a single coach and a single quarterback, and will likely die with the retirement of those two key figures. Other NFL dynasties have been much the same. The 49ers had Bill Walsh, Joe Montana and Steve Young. When those guys were gone, the dynasty was over. The Cowboys had Tom Landry and Roger Staubach. No Staubach, no rings. They briefly resurrected the dynasty with Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman. When those guys were gone, hard times descended on Dallas. The Redskins had Joe Gibbs, and once he was gone, mediocrity came to town. The list goes on and on, of brief dynasties led usually by a great head coach and a great quarterback, followed by mediocrity when the quarterback and/or the coach departed.
And then there's the Steelers. Folks, this is the only true NFL dynasty, the one that makes a mockery of any other team's claims. So here's the Stat of the Week. It's actually a series of stats, one more staggering than the other. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had one losing season since 1999. They have been to the playoffs 16 of the last 24 years. And they have had seven losing seasons in the last 44 years. Seven in 44 years! They have won with Hall of Fame quarterbacks, average quarterbacks and bad quarterbacks. In all ten different quarterbacks have led the Steelers to the playoffs, and only two, Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger, have been top quarterbacks in the NFL. The Steelers have gone to Super Bowls with four different quarterbacks and three different head coaches. Change the coach, doesn't matter, the Steelers win. Change the quarterback, doesn't matter, the Steelers win. Have a bad quarterback, doesn't matter, the Steelers win. The Steelers just always win, year after year, decade after decade, stretching all the way back to 1972. That, my friends is a true NFL dynasty. All other so called dynasties pale in comparison. So today, when we are supposed to be trying to figure out how to beat the Steelers, and I came up a bit stumped, I took a bit of consolation in knowing that it's OK. So has everyone else for the last 44 years and counting.