The Pittsburgh Steelers will enter the 2011 season in unfamiliar territory as the Super Bowl runner-up.
This is only the second time the black and gold have been to the Super Bowl, and not walked away victorious……I still have not forgiven Neil O’Donnell.
You might be saying to yourself, the Steelers were only one more Big Ben miracle drive away from wining the big game last year, and that last season was extremely successful. While I would not argue with that, I urge you to consider the ramifications of what losing in the Super Bowl really entails.
Since 2000, the New York Giants, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Chicago Bears were all Super Bowl runner-ups that failed to make the playoffs the next season. You would think a team that is strong enough to make it to the big game would surely be able to at least make it back to the playoffs the next year. The sting alone from the losing the Super Bowl should be enough to power a team to another successful season.
It is called the Super Bowl jinx, and the Steelers will be looking to avoid the curse in this upcoming season. If there is one thing going for the black and gold, it is that this so called jinx has not held up over the last few years.
In Super Bowl 43, the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals actually improved its regular season record the next year going 10-6 to win the NFC West for the second consecutive season. While it does show that the curse can be broken, wining the NFC West does somewhat discount what the Cardinals did. It seems as though every year, the NFC West winner somehow backs its way into the playoffs. Let’s face it, last year a team with a .500 record represented that division in the playoffs.
The Colts were the next team to buck the trend of Super Bowl runner-ups. After losing to the Saints in Super Bowl 44, the Colts returned to the playoffs the next year after earning a 10-6 record in the regular season. It was not as successful of a season for the Colts who had slid from its almost perfect 14-2 record from the year before. The Colts were given a swift exit from the playoffs in the wild card round losing to the New York Jets, the team they had beaten the year before in the AFC championship.
So while the last two seasons have shown the Super Bowl runner up can get back to the playoffs the next year, the regression these teams took remains a little disturbing. Would a 10-6 season with a loss in the first round of the playoffs make for an unsuccessful season for the black and gold? With the way the Steeler’s schedule is set up, and with who the team has returning, I would sure say so.
But if there is any team that can lay to rest the jinx of the Super Bowl runner-up it would be the Steelers. After losing the Super Bowl in 1995 to the Cowboys, the Steelers finished the next season at 10-6 claiming first place in the AFC Central. The team went on to lose in the divisional round of the playoffs to New England, but at least Steelers nation can look back and say the one time the Steelers suffered a defeat in the Super Bowl, they were able to bounce back. That was the Bill Cowher era, so now we will see what coach Tomlin can bring to the table.