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Steelers by the decade: 1980s

Posted Jul 10, 2014

A decade-by-decade look at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1980s


As the 1980s opened the Steelers stumbled, failing to make the playoffs in 1980 and 1981 with records of 9-7 and 8-8.

In 1982 the Steelers celebrated the team’s 50th anniversary by qualifying for the playoffs with a 6-3 finish in a strike-interrupted season. During the season an anniversary banquet was held to commemorate the team’s first 50 seasons and to honor the Steelers’ all-time team as selected by fan voting. Thousands of fans were attracted to Pittsburgh for a week of activities and exhibits before the anniversary season was ended by San Diego’s 31-28 win in the playoffs. This would be the last playoff game at Three Rivers until the 1992 season, a span of 10 years.

The 1983 Steelers won their eighth division title with a 10-6 record, but fell in the postseason, 38-10, to the Los Angeles Raiders. The following year the Steelers won their ninth division crown and the team advanced to the AFC Championship Game with a 24-17 playoff win at Denver. A 45-28 loss to Miami in the AFC Championship game prevented the Steelers from a fifth Super Bowl appearance.

The Steelers’ streak of 13 consecutive non-losing seasons came to an end in 1985 with a 7-9 finish, followed by a 6-10 record in 1986. Playoff hopes remained alive in 1987 until the Steelers lost their last two games to finish 8-7 during the strike-shortened season.

In 1988 the team suffered through its worst campaign in 19 years with a 5-11 record. The next season got off to a similar start with losses of 51-0 and 41-10 in the first two games as the offense failed to score in the first month of the season. But the young team fought back to finish 9-7 and earn a wild card playoff berth on the season’s final weekend. An exciting 26-23 overtime playoff win in Houston was followed by a heartbreaking 24-23 divisional playoff loss at Denver in which the Steelers led until the final minutes.

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