Pittsburgh Steelers: Home Opener Facts


On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will play in their 2015 home opener and it will be the 83rd game played in Pittsburgh to open a new season. By playing the San Francisco 49ers, the game becomes the fourth matchup between the two teams as a home opener for the Steelers.

More from Pittsburgh Steelers

In the previous three meetings between San Francisco and Pittsburgh played as the Steelers home opener, the Black and Gold have won two of those three games played. The first home season opening game playing the 49ers came in 1977 when the Steelers shut out San Francisco 27-0. 10 years later a rematch took place and again the Steelers prevailed this time 30-17. 22 years ago in 1993, San Francisco won at Three Rivers Stadium, 24-13.

Looking back at home openers since the Pittsburgh Steelers joined the NFL in 1933, the Black and Gold have prevailed 48 times while finishing in a tie three times. Their won/loss percentage in those 82 games played was an impressive .585. Over the course of the 82 games played, Pittsburgh has scored 1,673 points, holding their opponents to 1,434 points scored.

On average, the scores would be 20-17.5 in the Steelers’ favor. 31 of the games were played at old Forbes Field; six at the former Pitt Stadium; 31 in the defunct and torn down Three Rivers Stadium; and 14 in the Steelers current home at Heinz Field. Strangely enough, home openers played at Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium, two venues that gave way to newer, more modern stadiums, each held 31 games.

As for the three best coaches of all-time debuting in a home opener, the late Chuck Noll‘s first home game came in 1969. Noll’s team would be the victor, defeating the Detroit Lions 16-13 in Pitt Stadium. However, the Steelers then proceeded to lose the next 13 straight to finish 1-13.

When Noll retired in 1992, Bill Cowher came in and his first time on the sidelines in a regular season game at Three Rivers Stadium resulted in a convincing 27-10 win over the New York Jets. Cowher’s Steelers finished 11-5, won the old AFC Central Division, but lost in the first round of the playoffs 24-3 to the Buffalo Bills.

Cowher would remain head coach until his retirement in 2007 and his replacement Mike Tomlin debuted that year with a 26-3 victory over those same Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh’s beautiful new stadium, Heinz Field. Tomlin took over from Cowher and assumed a three-year consecutive win streak in home openers.

Tomlin’s teams would extend that streak to 10 games until it was broken in 2013 by the Tennessee Titans who came to the ‘Burgh and beat the Steelers 16-9. In his rookie season as coach, Tomlin led the Steelers to a 10-6 first place finish in the AFC North but lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs. Last year, Tomlin began another streak by eclipsing the Cleveland Browns narrowly 30-27. Tomlin hopes to make it two in a row come Sunday.

The 10-game winning streak of taking home openers by the Steelers is by far the longest in history. Pittsburgh had won their home opener in consecutive years from 1946-1949 and again every year from 1953-1957. For four straight years between 1971-1974, Pittsburgh failed to lose their home opener. The Steelers have never lost a home opener in more than two consecutive seasons.

As the Steelers face San Francisco for the fourth time in a Pittsburgh opener, it is the New York Giants who Pittsburgh has played the most to open a season at home. 14 times two of the NFL’s oldest franchises have met to open Pittsburgh’s home schedule since 1933. The Steelers have won just three of those 14 meetings as two games finished in a tie. Those three victories came in 1949, 1953, and 1963.

Pittsburgh has played the Cleveland Browns eight times if the three meetings with the Baltimore Ravens who moved from Cleveland are included. As the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh holds a 3-2 advantage. As the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh has won two of three. When playing as the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers were embarrassed in 1989 losing at home 51-0.

Between the Houston Oilers and the team they became as it is today, the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh has met the combination of those two clubs seven times winning five. Other teams with multiple appearances in Pittsburgh are the Chicago Cardinals (4), the Cincinnati Reds (yes, there was a team in Cincy once holding the baseball team’s name)/Bengals (4); Detroit Lions (4); Philadelphia Eagles (4); Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders (three each); Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins (3); and the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams, and New York Jets all have met the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh for a ‘Burgh home opener.

Live Feed

Buccaneers vs. Packers prediction, odds, spread, injuries, trends for NFL Week 15
Buccaneers vs. Packers prediction, odds, spread, injuries, trends for NFL Week 15 /

Lombardi Ave

  • 2024 NFL Draft order: How high the Chargers can climb after Justin Herbert's injuryBolt Beat
  • The not so secret stat that is determining the outcome of Colts gamesHorseshoe Heroes
  • Packers release Kyu Blu Kelly from 53-man, sign WR Thyrick Pitts to practice squadDairyland Express
  • Why are the Steelers playing on Saturday this week?Still Curtain
  • Texans vs. Titans prediction, odds, spread, injuries, trends for NFL Week 15Titan Sized
  • In the “battle for Pennsylvania” series for home openers in Pittsburgh facing the cross-state rival Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers have dropped three of the four games played. Meeting Pittsburgh only once for a home opener at one of the four venues hosting the Steelers have been the Atlanta Falcons, Boston Redskins, Boston Yanks, Brooklyn Dodgers, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay  Packers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, and the San Diego Chargers.

    In the 14 games played against the New York Giants, Pittsburgh lost four consecutive times to the ‘Gints in 1933, 1935, 1938, and 1945 by scores of 23-2, 42-7, 27-14, and 34-6.

    The 51-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Cleveland Browns in 1989 was easily Pittsburgh’s worst defeat in a home opener. The most points ever put up against an opponent by the Steelers was 45 in 1985 as Pittsburgh smashed the Colts 45-3. Another 41 were put on the Chicago Bears in 1967 in that 41-13 victory.

    Cleveland not only embarrassed Pittsburgh by that 51-point difference but also waxed the Black and Gold by 33 in 1958 winning 45-12. The Giants put up 42 in 1935 while yielding only seven. Green Bay also hit the 40 mark with 41 in the 1965 home opener as the Steelers could only manage nine.

    When it comes to shutouts by the defense, the Steelers have held the opponents scoreless just six times in 82 games, those whitewashes coming in 1934, 1936, 1963, 1974, 1977, and 2011. The largest margin of a shutout by the Steelers was when they beat the New York Giants 31-0 in 1963. Pittsburgh has been on the losing end of a pointless score only three times including that 51-0 defeat while losing 16-0 to Baltimore in 2000 and 10-0 to the Chicago Cardinals in 1939.

    When looking at those three great head coaches, Noll, Cowher, and Tomlin, Chuck Noll won 16 of his 23 home openers. His won/loss percentage was a hefty .695. Cowher didn’t fare as well with six losses in 15 seasons or a .600 percentage. However, Cowher’s teams won the last five home openers before he retired.

    Then there is Mike Tomlin. Since taking over in 2007, Tomlin has lost a home opening game just one time, that coming two seasons ago. He won his first six before losing to the Titans, and with the victory over the Browns last year, he hopes to add another victory to the seven he’s earned since 2007.

    Next: Steelers: Previewing The Niners At Heinz Field

    More from City of Champions