Only a handful of NFL franchises have had much happen in their history on today's date, January 20th. Why? Simple. Most teams aren't still alive and contending for Conference Championships and Super Bowls at this stage in the season. Let's take a quick look at two years in which the Steelers had a memorable 20th day of the first month. One was epic and a fitting end to a decade of dominance; the other merely provided a false sense of optimism that the Steelers were finally going to win that elusive fifth Lombardi after more than two decades since winning their fourth.
January 20th, 1980
The Pittsburgh Steelers finish off the dynastic decade with their fourth Super Bowl triumph over the Los Angeles Rams, 31-19. L.A. was over-matched from a talent standpoint in SB XIV, and from the outset it showed. While the Steelers were championship tested, the Rams were somewhat lucky and happy just to be in the big game, as they had limped into the playoffs with a pedestrian 9-7 record. Terry Bradhsaw earned SB MVP honors for the second consecutive year for his 309 yards and two TDs performance. Tim Gleason (maryrose) wrote about the game and his memories of it here on BTSC about this time in '09 as the Steelers were preparing to play in SB XLIII.
January 20th, 2002
Behind the play of their nasty defense and a fairly balanced offense, the Steelers rebounded from an opening week loss and breazed through their regular season schedule. The Steelers, still searching for 'one for the thumb', finished 13-3 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs. After having the first weekend of the postseason off, the Steelers hosted the Baltimore Ravens, winners of the previous year's Super Bowl. The game was never close. Pittsburgh scored the first 20 points of the contest before Baltimore added a Matt Stover field goal just before half. The Ravens tried to make a game of it in the second half, scoring a third quarter TD to cut the deficit to 10. But the Steelers iced the game in the fourth thanks to a 32-yard strike from Kordell Stewart to second-year WR Plaxico Burress. Unfortunately Pittsburgh's season would end the following weekend with a loss to the Patriots, the first of two AFC Championship losses to New England in the early years of the past decade.
Random quick question before signing off for now -- is January 20th the latest date that a Divisional Round game has been played? Me thinks so, but perhaps one of you can confirm or deny that guess based on my initial research of the date's historical significance in Steelers' lore.