Friday, September 30 2022

Here’s to hoping the Pittsburgh Steelers start 2023 in style!

The 2022 season is shaping up to be filled with unknowns, challenges, opportunities for young players and, as always, tons of bloody AFC North action. Pittsburgh’s schedule for this season has just been released, and many Steeler Nation The faithful noticed something right off the bat: Not only do we have five more prime-time games this year (the perks of being a world-renowned franchise), but the Steelers also play on Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day. of the year. Playing while on vacation is nothing new for Black and Gold. While their record on Thanksgiving is less than an ideal 2-6 since their founding in 1933, their records on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, Halloween and New Year’s Eve are all above 0.500.

(L to R) Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Michelle Tafoya and Ben Roethlisberger eat turkey after a win over the Colts. via Twitter @Steelers

Nothing compares to New Year’s Day for Pittsburgh, however. The Steelers love ringing in the new year with a solid win, especially when those wins are against AFC North opponents. Since 1978 (the first year of the 16-game schedule), the Steelers have played four games on New Year’s Day: three in the regular season and one in the playoffs.

The success of the Steelers on New Year’s Day

The first, oddly enough, was the only playoff game. It was the 1983/84 playoffs and Pittsburgh had a respectable 10-6 record. After a decade of pure success and heading into the divisional round of the playoffs, Chuck Noll and society sought to continue the Steel Curtain dynasty. This, however, would be the farthest from reality. Led by quarterback Stoudt Cliff (Remember him?), the Steelers were completely crushed by the Los Angeles Raiders on the score of 38-10.

You might be thinking: wait, I thought you said the Steelers were good on New Year’s Day? Now they’re being shamelessly beaten up by their great rival at the time? What’s going on? Well, despite the embarrassment of the 1983/84 playoffs, Pittsburgh would never have to worry about New Year’s playoff football again: those dark days were behind them. The regular season, however, weighed heavy.

The team would not play New Year’s Day again until the 2005 season. With a slightly better 11-5 record and a sophomore quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at the helm (remember him?), this Steelers squad was hunting big game, beating the Detroit Lions by a score of 35-21. Finally, with the New Year’s monkey on their backs, the team could move on to their next game; and coast they did, winning their fifth Super Bowl title that year (in Detroit no less), and cementing Roethlisberger as a league mainstay.

VOTE: Randle-El to Ward in Super Bowl XL

Hines Ward scores a touchdown in Super Bowl XL. via Steelers.com

The Steelers should wait again for another New Year’s Eve battle, but not as long this time. The 2011/12 season saw Pittsburgh take on rivals AFC North Cleveland Browns. As is Steelers tradition, they beat the Browns by a score of 13-9. With a 12-4 record to end the season, the team would eventually make a trip to Arlington for Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers. Sadly, Steeler Nation remembers the pain of that game all too well. Still, the New Year’s Day tradition continued.

The last game to start the new year was in the 2016 season. A little taste of the past, the Steelers once again beat the lowly Browns 27-24 in overtime. What’s new? To be fair, it wasn’t exactly an even game; the Browns went 1-15 that season, compared to the Steelers’ 11-5 record. Even with the Steelers resting, many of their starters (landry jones would get the starting go-ahead at quarterback), they were still capable of picking up a win, keeping their streak alive.

Former Steelers quarterback Landry Jones becomes first player to sign XFL contract

Former Steelers quarterback Landry Jones (#3). via CBS Sports

So with an unbeaten 3-0 regular season record on New Year’s Day, the Steelers are ready to reign supreme in the new year again, this time against the arch-rival. Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The teams change, the players change, but not the tradition. Even with a revamped offense featuring Kenny Pickett instead of Roethlisberger, I go with a past precedent. I would take the Steelers to beat the Ravens in a close, violent and ugly game. New Year’s resolution, anyone?

For all you Steeler Nation sleuths out there, you probably noticed that two of three New Year’s Day wins propelled us to the Super Bowl. Sure, it’s probably a coincidence, but why not believe it’s fate?

#SteelerNation

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