Can the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers Become the 1972 Miami Dolphins?
Back when the Pittsburgh Steelers ran their 2020 record to 7-0, there was some early talk about an undefeated season. The Steelers had just defeated the Baltimore Ravens on the road and were coming off a very impressive road win against the Tennessee Titans. The road ahead was anything but difficult. Their toughest task was a rematch with the Ravens, a team that now is relegated to backups after a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Everything seems to be breaking right for the Steelers, who could be the first team to run the table since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins were perfect, but ugly
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the lone NFL team to win a Super Bowl after winning every game they played that season. Although there were only 14 regular-season games back then, the Dolphins won them all and then went 3-0 in the postseason to finish 17-0. The Dolphins were able to achieve perfection despite the fact their starting quarterback, Bob Griese, broke his ankle in Week 5.
Many have argued the Dolphins’ schedule was weak in 1972. Only two teams – the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Giants – had winning records that year. Both finished 8-6. Miami had a few close calls that season and also put up some ugly offensive numbers. The Dolphins eked out a win over the Buffalo Bills, winning 24-23 in Week 6. Backup quarterback Earl Morrall completed six of 10 passes for 91 yards and an interception.
In the rematch two weeks later, Morrall completed five of 14 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in a 30-16 win. In Week 10, the Dolphins defeated the New York Jets 28-24 with Morrall completing eight passes. The Dolphins also rallied to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 16-14 in Week 3.
The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers are a not-so-pretty 10-0
Like the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t lost and they haven’t looked unbeatable in a few of their games. Entering Week 9 as a two-touchdown favorite on the road against a hapless Dallas Cowboys team. The Steelers entered the fourth quarter trailing 19-9 and frantically rallied for a 24-19 victory.
The Steelers also needed a strong fourth-quarter push against a very weak Denver Broncos team in Week 2. The Broncos were playing with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. The Steelers have put themselves in a position to finish with a perfect season, entering Week 12 at 10-0.
The Steelers are coming off an 8-8 season in which quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed all but two games with an elbow injury. Roethlisberger has certainly put himself in the running for MVP. He’s thrown 24 touchdowns against five interceptions. He’s thrown for 2,534 yards and has completed better than 67% of his passes.
Things are breaking well for the Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 12 rematch against the Baltimore Ravens was probably the toughest game on the schedule after the teams met in Week 8. The Ravens, however, have been decimated by COVID-19 and will be playing without quarterback Lamar Jackson. Running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins also aren’t expected to play. Since the Ravens’ last game, 19 players have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Steelers do have a trip to the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills in two weeks, which could present a problem. Other than that, they host the Washington Football Team and the Indianapolis Colts. They play on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The Steelers are lucky to be playing a very short-handed Ravens team that will be looking for revenge. A win Wednesday would get them a little bit closer to those 1972 Dolphins.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.