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History says 4-2 is a good place for the Steelers to be

Looking back at 50 years of 4-2 starts.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a lot of statistical doom and gloom, the only number that ultimately matters in the NFL is wins. At 4-2, the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers have history on their side. In fact, very few Steelers teams that started 4-2 failed to make the postseason.

Here’s a look back at the Steelers' history of 4-2 starts over the past 50 years.

The Chuck Noll era


Pittsburgh finished the season at 11-3. Those playoffs gave us the Immaculate Reception against the Oakland Raiders before the Steelers ultimately lost to Miami in the AFC Championship.


A 9-5 record was enough to win the AFC Central this year. However, the Steelers went on to lose to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round.


This team started 4-2, but it could have easily been 6-0. Instead, the Steelers finished 9-7, losing three of their last five games and missing the playoffs for the first time since 1971. To some, this was the end of the dynasty.


Pittsburgh lost the last three games of the season to finish 8-8, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.


This was the strike year, so 6-3 was good enough to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh lost to the San Diego Chargers in the Wild Card round. It was the last playoff game in Pittsburgh for the next ten years.


Bradshaw’s final season saw the Steelers drop four of their last five games to finish 10-6 and still win the AFC North. They lost to the LA Raiders in the Divisional round.


This Mark Malone-led team finished 8-7 after a 4-2 start, missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

The Bill Cowher Era


The Cowher era began with a 4-2 start and an 11-5 finish. The Steelers earned the top seed in the playoffs and a bye, but lost to Buffalo in the Divisional round.


Bill Cowher led this team to a 9-7 finish, good enough to earn a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. They would lose to Joe Montana and the Chiefs in an exciting overtime finish.


Pittsburgh finished this season 12-4, earning the top seed in the playoffs. They beat the Browns in the Divisional Round but lost to the San Diego Charges in the “3 More Yards” AFC Championship.


This team finished 11-5 to earn their fourth consecutive AFC North title. It gave Bill Cowher a share of an NFL record for the most consecutive playoff appearances to start a head coaching career (6). They earned a first-round bye in the playoffs, and defeated the Patriots in the Divisional round, before falling to the Broncos in the AFC Championship.


Pittsburgh lost their final five games and a spot at the playoffs with their 7-9 record. I still blame it on the Thanksgiving Day coin toss.


The road to Super Bowl XL started at 4-2 and finished at 11-5. As the six-seed in the playoffs, they went on the road and won in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver.

The Mike Tomlin era


Pittsburgh finished the season with the AFC North crown at 10-6, despite losing three of their last four games. In the Wild Card round, they lost to Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jacksonville Jaguars.


Maybe this team was suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. Despite a 6-2 start, they suffered a five-game skid and finished 9-7. They were just a Dennis Dixon overtime interception away from making the playoffs.


This team looked good enough to defend their AFC title from a year ago. They finished the season at 12-4 tied with Baltimore, but the Ravens would take the division crown due to their perfect record in the AFC North. However, their Super Bowl dreams were squashed in the Wild Card round by Tim Tebow and the Broncos.


Pittsburgh won four of their last five games to finish the season at 10-6, earning a trip to the playoffs as a wildcard over the Jets, thanks to a better record against common opponents. This team beat Cincinnati in the playoffs in dramatic fashion, before falling to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the Divisional round.


This team was putting up lots of points to get to 4-2. Then they lost four in a row, before winning out to finish the season as AFC North champs at 11-5. In the playoffs, they beat Miami and Kansas City (Boswell’s six-score game), but ultimately lost to New England in the AFC Championship.


Pittsburgh started 4-2 and only lost one more game this season. Even that was controversial (Jesse caught it). They finished the season 13-3, winning the AFC North and securing a first-round bye. Their journey would end against Jacksonville in the Divisional Round.

Looking at history, 4-2 is a good place to be. Only one team under Tomlin hasn’t gone on to make the playoffs.