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The Steelers didn’t, and won’t, have to beat the Patriots to legitimize a Super Bowl victory

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My memories of the Steelers most-recent Super Bowl victories haven’t been tainted by the fact they didn’t face New England in the postseason. And if Pittsburgh avoids the Patriots on the way to a future Super Bowl, I’ll be okay with that, too.

Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XLIII Parade Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I know what you’re going to say, but put the weapon down and hear me out.

One of the biggest themes of this Steelers offseason has been: Can they actually find a way to defeat the Patriots in-order to get over the hump and finally capture that seventh Lombardi?

I know this because you, yes, you, the person who likes to bitingly refer to Behind the Steel Curtain as Pats Pulpit, have been saying this since January 23, which was the day after Pittsburgh was so easily dispatched by New England in the AFC Championship game.

You said it during free-agency, when the Patriots signed Stephon Gilmore and traded for Brandin Cooks, while Pittsburgh failed to sign Dont’a Hightower (he went back to New England), and underwhelmed you by signing depth.

You said it before, during and after the draft.

You’re still saying it today, even though you don’t want anyone to write about the Steelers nemesis from the northeast.

You were saying it last year, when the Steelers were marching through the playoffs and appeared to be destined to face New England in the aforementioned conference title game.

“I want the Steelers to have to play the Patriots for the right to go to the Super Bowl. You want to beat the best.”

Yeah, right. That’s why everyone was rooting like crazy for the Texans to knock New England off in the divisional round.

I know I was. And why? Because it would have made the Steelers path to the Super Bowl that much easier.

At the end of the day, nobody remembers who your team had to defeat along the way to a championship. Don’t get me wrong, it sometimes makes for a better story, but it’s not really that important.

Case in point: The Steelers managed to make it to three Super Bowls and win two of them over a six year span from 2005-2010, and they didn’t play the Patriots once in the postseason during those years.

Did I care about that? Certain individuals have made me try to care over the years, but these people are fans of teams that didn’t participate in or win Super Bowls XL, XLIII and XLV.

While you’re thinking back on the Steelers glorious run to Super Bowl XL in 2005 that included three road wins as a sixth seed, do you ever get jolted by the fact that New England was knocked off by the Broncos in the divisional round?

And while we’re on the subject of Super Bowl XL, does it really bother you when Seahawks fans (or simply non-Steelers fans) try to convince you to this day that “them damn officials were cheating!”?

Back in 2004 and 2005, I frequented the Pittsburgh Craigslist rants and raves section during the NFL postseason (before blogs and Facebook, this was where I went to get my daily dose of Internet sports rage). Anyway, in the days following Super Bowl XL, Seahawks fans came over to this page and were whining about it incessantly, trying to convince the Steelers faithful that their first Lombardi trophy in 26 years was somehow tainted, thanks to a few calls by the game-day officials.

I don’t remember my responses, obviously, but I do recall saying something along the lines of, “Am I supposed to feel bad? Because, if so, I’m doing it wrong.”

“Bad” was the exact opposite of the feelings I had in those days. Super Bowl XL gave me the greatest sports moment of my life, and I doubt it will ever be topped.

Three years later, I was sitting in a sports bar, watching Pittsburgh dismantle the Texans in Week 1 of the 2008 season, when news broke that Tom Brady had suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Chiefs.

The whole bar applauded wildly. Even at the time, I thought that was wrong, but I also remember thinking, “Well, that will certainly make things easier.”

You know the rest of the story. Not only did the Steelers avoid New England in the playoffs, everyone did, as the Patriots missed the postseason entirely.

Does that fact spoil your memories of what Troy Polamalu did in the AFC title game against the Ravens? What about James Harrison’s 100-yard march on the final play of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII; or the heroics of Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes, as they helped guide Pittsburgh to a 27-23 victory over the Cardinals in that game’s final moments?

When people remember that 2008 team, they often talk about the historic defense or the historically tough regular season schedule Pittsburgh had to march through.

But did you know the Steelers faced the weakest postseason schedule in the Super Bowl era in terms of opponents’ winning-percentage in-order to earn their sixth title?

I didn’t know that at the time. I do now, but I still don’t care.

Speaking of facing 9-7 opponents in the Super Bowl, does anyone care that Pittsburgh avoided the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIV, thanks to them being upset by the upstart Rams in the divisional round weeks earlier?

Obviously, you don’t.

These little arguments people like to get into about championships from years ago, well, they’re quite special.

I mean, are you seriously going to lose your mind in the year 2037, when ESPN or the NFL Network ranks the greatest Super Bowl teams from this last era, and Pittsburgh is behind the Patriots?

I had a chance to do just that this past January.

I was at a bar with my uncle and cousin, watching the Steelers blow out the Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game, and on another screen, they were showing an NFL Network special about the greatest dynasties in league history.

The Steelers dynasty of the 1970’s finished second to the Packers dynasty of the 1960’s.

You know what I did at that moment? I ordered another Miller Lite.

I’m pretty sure I’ll do the same thing in 2037.