By Jeremy Hritz
The Steelers finished the preseason with a 3-1 record. Interestingly, in the last three seasons in which the team reached the Super Bowl, the Steelers had the same record (2010, 2008, and 2005). On this weekend’s Steelers Insider Podcast with Jim Wexell, he posed the question as to whether or not the loss in those preseason games occurred in that finale, and out of curiosity, I decided to dive in and find the answer.
Below is a look at the final preseason contests from the 2010, 2008, and 2005 seasons, and I also throw in a look at the 1997 undefeated preseason and how they concluded the season as well, just for fun.
2010 Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-1 Preseason Record, 12-4 Regular Season Record
In 2010, the Steelers won their final preseason contest against the Carolina Panthers, 19-3. Their loss in the preseason in 2010 came against the Denver Broncos. In that game, Dennis Dixon threw 2 interceptions, and Charlie Batch threw 1 as well, as the Steelers got shellacked. The team would go on to finish 12-4 in the regular season before losing the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers.
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-1 Preseason Record, 12-4 Regular Season Record
In 2008, the Steelers won their final preseason contest against the Panthers, 19-6, and their only loss came in their 2nd game against the Bills, 24-21. In that game which was played in Toronto, Buffalo’s Trent Edwards went 9/11 for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns, battling it out with Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 142 yards, going 9/11, and throwing a 40-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes. The Steelers would finish the regular season 12-4 before going on to win the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals.
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-1 Preseason Record, 11-5 Regular Season Record
In 2005, the Steelers defeated the Panthers in the final preseason game, 21-17. Their only preseason loss came in game 3 against the Washington Football Team, 17-10, a game in which Roethlisberger went 6/15 for 57 yards and 1 interception, while Troy Polamalu picked off Patrick Ramsey for a 34-interception-for-TD. The Steelers finished the regular season 11-5 and then began a historic run as a 6th seed to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
1997 Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-0 Preseason Record, 11-5 Regular Season Record
And just for fun, the 1997 Steelers, a team who Bill Cowher calls his most talented ever, went 5-0 in the preseason, and they beat the Panthers in the final game, 27-19.
Wrapping It Up
All of the aforementioned seasons were highly successful, and while I was expecting to see a loss in the final preseason contest, surprisingly, they were all wins. In each of those Super Bowl years (and 1997, too), the Steelers all defeated the Carolina Panthers. Their losses came in either game 2 or 3 of the preseason.
Is there anything to glean here in terms of projecting the success of the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers? Not really, and we cannot draw the conclusion that just because they dropped their final game against the Panthers, they are condemned to a poor season. We have to consider that the Steelers had an extended preseason because of the Hall of Fame Game, and as a result, they were playing exclusively their backups and bottom depth against the first team of the Panthers. Talk about a mismatch in approaches.
If there is a stat to focus on, it is the 3-1 record of those 2005, 2008, and 2010 teams. If this year’s unit can continue to share similarities with those teams, Steelers fans will be in store for a very enjoyable year.