Much has been written on this site and others about Pittsburgh’s championship legacy.
True enough, the Steelers’ six Lombardi trophies are to be respected and admired. No other franchise has more championship hardware than the Steelers, and only Dallas has appeared in as many Super Bowls as
The Steelers’ two Super Bowl wins over Dallas are what has vaulted Pittsburgh to the all-time winningest Super Bowl team.
But a glance at Pittsburgh’s other Super Bowl opponents reveals that, on paper, the Steelers have played a lower-seeded team in more than half of their 7 previous Super Bowls. Super Bowl XLV against No. 6-seed Green Bay is Pittsburgh’s first against
the NFC’s lowest seeded-team. It can’t choose who they play in the Super Bowl, but it’s telling nonetheless that this isn’t the first time that Pittsburgh has benefited in the matchup by playing a lower-seeded team from the NFC.
In Super Bowl IX, Pittsburgh won its debut over Minnesota. This was the final year that seedings were not used to determine playoff pairings. Pittsburgh had the third-best AFC record, and Minnesota had the best NFC record, so
for comparison we’ll use those are their respective seeds. Minnesota lost Super Bowl VIII the year before and was winless in two previous appearances. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
In Super Bowl X, No. 2 Pittsburgh topped No. 4 Dallas 21-17 in one of the top 10 games in Super Bowl history. Dallas was a 10-4 wild-card out of the NFC making its first Super Bowl appearance in four seasons taking on the defending champions. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
In Super Bowl XIII, No. 1 Pittsburgh edged No. 2 Dallas, 35-31 in another classic. Dallas was 12-4 in the regular season and making a second consecutive Super Bowl trip. Pittsburgh dominated the AFC, having just won its third AFC title of the past five seasons. Advantage: Tie.
In Super Bowl XIV, defending champion Pittsburgh was a No. 2 seed facing a No. 3 seed in the Los Angeles Rams that had never played in a Super Bowl before. Los Angeles was 9-7 in the regular season. Big advantage: Pittsburgh.
In Super Bowl XXX, No. 2 Pittsburgh faced a the NFC’s top seed for only the second time. No. 1 Dallas, which was 12-4 in the regular season making its third Super Bowl appearance in four seasons, won. Advantage: Dallas.
In Super Bowl XL, No. 6 Pittsburgh faced the NFC’s top seed again. Seattle was 13-3 in the regular season, but was making its first Super Bowl trip. The Steelers’ championship pedigree and the AFC’s dominance over the NFC uring the regular season still tipped the scales their way. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
In Super Bowl XLIII, No. 2 Pittsburgh beat No. 4 Arizona with a last-minute comeback in another all-time classic. Arizona was 9-7 in the regular season, and the Steelers faced another Super Bowl-rookie franchise with one of the NFL’s 10 worse defenses. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
In Super Bowl XLV, No. 2 Pittsburgh will face the NFC’s lowest seed for the first time. Green Bay was 10-6 in the regular season, and is making its first Super Bowl trip in 13 seasons. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh has never lost to a team that wasn’t the NFC’s top seed going in. Call that a trend worth banking on, or sound the alarm for a jinx alert as Sunday’s game approaches.
Here is the breakdown of Pittsburgh’s record against each NFC seed in the Super Bowl:
vs. #1 – 2-1 (Minnesota, Dallas-XXX, Seattle)
vs. #2 – 1-0 (Dallas-XIII)
vs. #3 – 1-0 (Los Angeles)
vs. #4 – 2-0 (Dallas-X, Arizona)
vs. #5 – 0-0
vs. #6 – 0-0 (Green Bay is the No. 6 seed)
Pittsburgh as the lower-seeded team is 2-1
Pittsburgh as higher-seeded team is 4-1
The Steelers has earned each of their championships. But they have also received breaks by not facing the NFC’s top seed more often than not.
About the Author
Written by Scott Farrell
Scott Farrell is the publisher of ScotSports.com in Dallas, Texas. He is a former sports writer for The Dallas Morning News, and also works as a freelance statistician for TV sports productions, most recently for ESPN at the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Farrell has covered high school sports in Dallas for 21 years, and has also worked in athletic media relations at SMU, Fresno State and Texas-Arlington. He won Best Sports Coverage Awards from the Texas Press Association three times and Best Sports Writing once. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.