After seeing the new Flashback Friday on BTSC and watching a re-run of "In their own words: The 70's Steelers", I decided to create my own personal list of the ten greatest Steeler teams in NFL history. It should be pointed that I personally held how far a team got or the legacy they built in the highest regard as opposed to just pure talent. These are my opinions and should be treated as fact.
Number Ten: The 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers (15-1)
You know you have a special list when the lowest team on that list only lost once in the regular season. The 2004 Steelers are infamous for being one of only five teams in NFL history to have a 15-1 regular season record. Steeler fans know this season for being QB Ben Roethlisberger's first NFL season after coming off the bench early in the year. This team sported nine pro-bowlers with six going all-pro and were ranked number one in total defense. The reason for why this team isn't higher on the list is due to their struggles in the playoffs after barely escaping the New York Jets in the divisional round and eventually losing to the eventual super bowl champion* New England Patriots in the AFC championship.
Number Nine: The 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers (The steeliest of steel curtains)
It was hard to pick which would go in the ten and nine slots when it came to the 2004 and 1976 Steelers but I ended up going with 1976 for the nine slot due to their legacy. The Pittsburgh Steelers and defense go hand and hand and this was perhaps the greatest out of all of them. After QB Terry Bradshaw got hurt and the team started out with a 1-4 record, the Steelers running game and defense decided to carry the load with running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier both rushing for one thousand yards and the defense recording a record three straight shutouts. Despite losing Franco and Rocky later in the playoffs and eventually losing to the Raiders in the AFC championship, this is still in my opinion the greatest Steeler team to never reach the super bowl.
Number Eight: The 1995 Steelers (The forgotten era)
The Steeler teams of the 90's were too special to not at least get one spot of this list and I went with their one super bowl berth. Forget the 11-5 record for a second and just look at the talent. One of the greatest LB corps in NFL history with Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, and Levon Kirkland, one of the greatest secondaries ever with Darren Perry, HOFer Rod Woodson, and Carnell Lake, and one of the top offensive lines in the league led by HOF center Dermontti Dawson. After finally breaking the threshold after so many AFC championship losses, the Steelers faced the juggernaut dynasty that was the Dallas Cowboys. Unlike the Buffalo Bills however, the Steelers put up a serious fight and if not for a couple late Neil O'Donnell interceptions, we might be talking about something even more special.
Number Seven: The 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers (The end of an era)
This was perhaps the last great hurrah of the Steelers of the 2000's and the last time the majority of those guys were together in the biggest of spotlights. Fans who complain about Tomlin's coaching sure didn't pay attention to him early in this season as the Steelers started out with a 3-1 record despite QB Ben Roethlisberger spending time on a suspension. With the number one scoring defense led by legendary fan favorite Troy Polamalu, this team fought through adversity all the way to Dallas before falling to the Green Bay Packers in the super bowl and experiencing several injuries to key players like rookie center Maurkice Pouncey. To me, this is the greatest Steeler team ever to lose the super bowl.
Number Six: The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers (One for the thumb, All for the Bus)
The first team on the list to win it all didn't look like one early in the season. With a three game losing streak in the middle of the year, the Steelers needed to win all of their games just to make the playoffs. They did just that and capped it off with an amazing goal line rushing TD by HOF running back Jerome "The Bus" Bettis against the Chicago Bears. The 2005 Steelers made history be being the first sixth seed to ever win the SB after upsetting the favored Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos in the playoffs. They eventually won the ring with a 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks and gave the Bus the best possible goodbye he could have with a ring in his hometown.
Number Five: The 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers (Deebo)
Perhaps not only the most underrated defense in history but maybe the most underrated super bowl winning team in history. This team had ferocity and it's the kind of team you only truly start to appreciate after it's all over. You could make the case it should be higher on this list. Sporting the toughest schedule in NFL history, the 08 Steelers defense held the top ranking in total yards allowed, points scored, passing yards, first downs, yards per play, and yards per pass. Led by defensive player of the year James Harrison, the Steelers grinded their way past grudge matches against the Ravens in the AFC championship and the Cardinals in Super Bowl 43. The 08 season culminated in the two greatest super bowl plays ever with James Harrison 100 yard pick 6 and Santonio Holmes game winning tip-toe TD catch.
Number Four: The 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers (The end of THE era)
The last of the greatest dynasty in NFL history. As the old guard got even older, the Steelers knew they had one last shot at another Lombardi and they took it. With an elite offense to complement an elite defense, the Steelers blew out teams in various ways, be it by pouring it on them or by shutting them out of the endzone. Despite a valiant effort by the big underdog LA Rams, the Steelers eventually prevailed behind SB MVP and HOFer John Stallworth, winning the last Lombardi of the 70's. It was both sweet as being a ceremonial cherry on top but also bitter as the players realized that it really was their last rodeo.
Number Three: The 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers (You've done it before)
The first of many. My Dad has been watching the Steelers his whole life and he still says no ring was as sweet as the first. On offense early in the season, the Steelers didn't look like a SB winner with dysfunctions at QB and unproven talent. Eventually the Steelers went with HOFer Terry Bradshaw and RB Franco Harris who helped form a catalyst to help assist the already legendary Steel Curtain defense the team sported.The AFC championship beat down of the Raiders, Mean Joe Greene said, was still the only time the entire Steelers team was ever "in the zone". The SB win was even better as the Steelers brought out their greatest SB domination on the lowly Minnesota Vikings.
Number Two: The 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (Now do it again)
Perhaps the greatest SB winning defense in Steelers history, the 1975 team sported nine hall of famers and this season was just business as usual for the 70's Steelers. This is more than likely the year all the Steeler greats we know and love finally came to fruition. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth became household names and Jack Lambert introduced himself in the SB by tossing Cowboys safety Cliff Harris to the ground. After winning a best picture of a game against the Dallas Cowboys in the SB behind the ballerina/ SB MVP WR Lynn Swann, the Steelers solidified their repeat and true introduction as a team of the millennium.
Number One: The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers (Top of the Universe)
It may not have been the last one of the 70's but it sure was the greatest. With the best regular season record for a Steeler SB winner at 14-2 and general dominance on both sides of the ball led by head coach Chuck Noll, there's no question in my mind that this is the greatest Steelers team ever. This team was the full pinnacle of everything the Steelers had built up to that point as every player entered their prime. Their only two losses of the season were just by seven and three points respectfully. With QB Terry Bradshaw, RBs Rocky Bleier and Franco Harris, O-linemen Mike Webster, Jon Kolb, and Larry Brown, WRs Lynn Swann and John Stallworth; the Steelers had the number one offense in the NFL and Bradshaw ended up winning the only AP MVP award in Steelers history. With D-linemen John Banaszak, Mean Joe Greene, Dwight White, and LC Greenwood, LBs Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Loren Toews, and DBs Mel Blount, Ron Johnson, Donnie Shell and Mike Wagner; the legendary Steel Curtain sported the number two total defense in the NFL. After an amazing game in Super Bowl 13 against the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers had fully reached their prime as the greatest dynasty ever. You could not only say this is the greatest Steeler team ever but perhaps make the case it's the greatest NFL team ever.