I’ve been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan my entire life. I was born the year they won their then NFL record fourth Lombardi Trophy in January 1980 following the 1979 season.
But in my young life, I never saw the Steelers win a Super Title. Sure they came close. Super Bowl XXX was supposed to be the franchise’s record tying fifth Lombardi, but then Neil O’donnell happened. True members of Steelers Nation know how hard it is for me to mention that name.
Nevertheless, there were other close calls. A 1995 AFC Championship loss to the San Diego Chargers. Another to Denver after the 1997 season, another to the New England Patriots after the 2001 season, and another after the 2004 season. I was starting to believe it was never going to happen. Then the 2005 Steelers showed up and defied the odds by being the first 6th seed to win it all when they went on the road and won three straight playoff games in route to the Super Bowl XL title. I have found memories of that title run, and often rewatch those games on DVD. That’s my all-time favorite Steeler team because of how they did it. This 2015 team is eerily similar and if they are to bring home a record seventh Super Bowl victory, they’ll have to do it the same way it was done 10 years ago.
Just like 2005, the journey to the Super Bowl 50 title begins as the 6th seed in Cincinnati against the AFC North Champion Bengals. Just like 2005, a win against the Bengals means a date with the #1 seed, led by Peyton Manning, and just like 2005, a trip to the Big Game will include a stop in the Mile High City. Looking far ahead, a Super Bowl win may have to be over the NFC favorites, the Seattle Seahawks.
Here are some other similarities from the regular season. Both the ’15 and ’05 squads lost close games to the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. The 2005 Carson Palmer led Bengals won 38-31, while the Andy Dalton led Bengals won 16-10 this season. In both the ’15 and ’05 seasons, the Steelers won at Paul Brown Stadium by double digits (33-20 in ’15 & 27-13 in ’05). Both Steelers teams lost by 3 points at the Baltimore Ravens; 16-13 in overtime in ’05 and 20-17 this season.
Ben Roethlisberger missed significant time in both seasons for a knee injury. After he returned, both teams got hot, and at the right time. The 2005 Steelers went 5-3 to finish the season including a 4 game winning streak. This season, Pittsburgh finished the season 6-2 that included a 3 game winning streak, and 4-1 in their last 5.
The similarities don’t just stop with the Steelers. The Broncos were the 2005 AFC West Champions, just like they were in 2015. The Patriots won the AFC East in 2005, and in 2015. Oh, and the New England Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XXIX the season before the Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XL. The Patriots won the Super Bowl last season.
In an ironic twist, the #5 seed Carolina Panthers played against the #1 seeded Seahawks in the 2006 NFC tile game, and it’s likely Carolina and Seattle will meet again—if the “Legion of Boom” can beat the Viking this weekend—only this time the #6 seed Seahawks would travel to Charlotte to play against the #1 seed Panthers in the divisional round.
Coincidences to me aren’t accidents. And if this team makes it to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara to play for the Championship, that won’t be a surprise or accident either.