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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Rams: A History of the Rivalry

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In the NFL’s 100th season, a look at the Steelers and Rams, now and through history.

Pittsburgh Steelers v St. Louis Rams Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

With all the NFL 100th Season lists, I’ve been thinking about the histories of various Steeler rivalries. So every week for the rest of the year, I’ll post a retrospective preview, considering the two teams and setting up for the upcoming game.

This week: Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers v St. Louis Rams Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

2019 Comparison

Current Records:

Pittsburgh : 4-4 (2nd AFC North)
L.A. Rams : 5-3 (3rd NFC West)

2019 Off/Def Comparisons:

....................................... Overall ........... Pass ........... Rush ........... Score

Pittsburgh Offense........291 (28th).......202 (27th).......88 (26th).......22.0 (18th)
L.A. Rams Defense.......338 (12th).......241 (19th).......97 (11th).......21.8 (15th)

L.A. Rams Offense........384 (10th)........287 (5th)........97 (20th).......26.8 (8th)
Pittsburgh Defense........335 (11th)........228 (10th)....107 (16th).......21.1 (13th)

Player in Common (current):

Mark Barron (Rams 2014-18 / signed with Steelers 2019)

Barron was brought in as a hybrid ILB/Safety this offseason. His expected role was reduced when the team also drafted Devin Bush. Barron has been a mixed bag but Bush is turning into a star. As a starter, Barron was probably not what the Steelers needed; as a backup who logs a lot of minutes, Barron looks like a decent pickup.

Player in Common (past):

Jerome Bettis (Rams 1993-95, 1st Rd, 10 overall / traded to Pittsburgh 1996 along with a 3rd round pick, for Steelers 2nd and 4th rounders)

Bettis had been rookie of the year with the Rams, and rushed for 3091 yards in three years there. When he went to Pittsburgh he became the centerpiece of the Steelers offense for the next decade, rushing for 10,571 yards and winning accolades up and down, including Comeback Player of the Year, Walter Payton Man of the Year, four Pro-Bowls, two All Pro seasons, and a Super Bowl. He is now in the Hall of Fame.

(Also notable in this category: Kevin Greene. That’s a pretty good pipeline between the Rams and Steelers in the 90s...)


St. Louis Rams v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

All-Time Records:

Pittsburgh : 664-583-22 (.533)
L.A. Rams : 594-590-3 (.502)

Steelers have the 4th most wins in NFL history; 11th best all time winning percentage.
Rams have the 7th most wins, but are 18th in winning percentage.

Since Merger:

Pittsburgh : 502-315-3 (.614)
L.A. Rams : 395-398-5 (.498)

The Steelers are the winningst team in the NFL since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger.
The Rams are 15th in wins and 17th in winning percentage.

This Century:

Pittsburgh : 212-115-2 (.648)
L.A. Rams : 140-174-1 (.447)

The Steelers are the #2 team in the NFL this millennium.
Despite two Super Bowl appearances this century, the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams sit at #22.

Coaches’ Records in First 44 games:

Pittsburgh (Mike Tomlin) : 31-13 (.705) – including 3-1 in postseason. Super Bowl 43 Champion (youngest coach to win a Super Bowl)

L.A. Rams (Sean McVay) : 31-13 (.705) – including 2-2 in postseason. Super Bowl 53 Runner Up (youngest coach to reach the Super Bowl)

Best “Chuck” Coach:

Pittsburgh : Chuck Noll, 1969-91. Regular season 212-143-4 (.542). Postseason 15-9 (.680). Super Bowls 4-0 (1.000).

L.A. Rams : Chuck Knox, 1973-77 and 1992-94. Regular season 69-48-1 (.589). Postseason 3-5 (.375). Super Bowls 0-0 (.000).

Best Defensive Line Nickname:

Pittsburgh : Steel Curtain (1972-80)
L.A. Rams : Fearsome Foursome (1963-72)

Best Offensive Stars’ Nickname:

Pittsburgh : Killer B’s (2013-18)
St.L Rams : Greatest Show on Turf (1999-2004)

Best Old Time Player Nickname:

Pittsburgh : Byron “Whizzer” White (1938)
L.A. Rams : Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch (1949-57)

Would-Be Rival?

The Rams were founded in Cleveland in 1936, eleven years before the Browns launched in the AAFC. They stayed in Cleveland until 1945, winning the NFL title in their last year in Ohio, then moved to Los Angeles. This was never a legitimate rivalry because the Steelers (originally Pirates) were so uncompetitive in those years, but also because the teams so rarely played. The Rams led the series in these years 0-2-1.


Super Bowl XIV - Los Angeles Rams vs Pittsburgh Steelers - January 20, 1980 Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images

All-Time Series:

Rams : 15 – 9 – 2

Playoff Series:

Steelers : 1 – 0 (Super Bowl XIV)

Current Streak:

Steelers : 3w

Longest Streak:

Steelers : 3 games (2007-15 and 1980-84)
L.A. Rams : 6 games (1961-78)

First game:

December 4, 1938
Pittsburgh Pirates – 7
Cleveland Rams – 13

Cleveland Rams vs Pittsburgh Pirates. If the score is any indication, this one was not a barn-burner. The Pirates (soon to become Steelers) finished the year 2-9. The Rams (a few years from moving out of Cleveland) finished 4-7. The game was also played at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans for some reason. The Pirates were led by legendary player-coach (and great nickname) Johnny “Blood” McNally, and featured rookie phenom and future Supreme Court Justice, Byron “Whizzer” White, who led the league in rushing and scrimmage yards that season (as well as interceptions thrown). White caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough on this day, unfortunately, and the Pirates fell to the Rams in the season’s final week.

Most Recent game:

September 27, 2015
Pittsburgh – 12
St.L Rams – 6

This game was a mess. It was the Rams’ last year in St. Louis and their ninth consecutive sub-.500 finish. Jeff Fisher was still at the helm. The turf in St. Louis caught fire before the game. Josh Scobee was still kicking for the Steelers. And in the end, Ben Roethlisberger was injured (forcing us to watch several weeks of Mike Vick). You might remember Ben’s injury for its effect on a certain unemployed Halloween clown, who posted the second-best receiving season in NFL history, and almost certainly would have broken several single-season records if Big Ben had stayed healthy.

Fun trivia note: the Ram who injured Roethlisberger? Mark Barron.

Biggest Game in the Series:

January 20, 1980 (Super Bowl XIV)
Pittsburgh – 31
L. A. Rams – 19

The Steelers were a dying juggernaut at this point, making one more run at the title. The Rams were 9-7 upstarts playing over their heads. That’s the way it looks on paper anyway. The Rams were actually one of the most successful teams of the 1970s, who just never got past the Cowboys and Vikings. 1979 was their seventh consecutive playoff year, but their first Super Bowl.

This game was closer than the score indicates, as the Steelers, famously, trailed 19-17 in the fourth quarter after the Rams completed a halfback option for the go-ahead points. Then Terry Bradshaw hit John Stallworth with an iconic 73 yard touchdown for the lead. A Jack Lambert interception gave the ball back to the Steelers, and Bradshaw hit Stallworth with a 45 yard gain to set up Franco Harris with the icing points.

Bradshaw took home his second consecutive MVP, though you could make a case for Stallworth as well. It was the last hurrah for the most powerful dynasty in modern NFL history.

Other Memorable Games:

December 20, 2007
Pittsburgh – 41
St.L Rams – 24

A blowout late in Mike Tomlin’s rookie season, this game is mostly only memorable because Willie Parker, who was leading the league in rushing, broke his leg in the second half. Parker’s game was predicated on speed, and though he recovered and helped the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory the next year, he was never really the same back again.

December 20, 1975
Pittsburgh – 3
L. A. Rams – 10

There simply aren’t that many significant Steelers/Rams tilts. This dreadful-looking contest is significant only because it is the final loss the 1975 Steelers suffered before winning out and recording their second consecutive Super Bowl victory.