Updated: Oct 4, 2020
(Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)
With the Steelers-Titans game rescheduled to a later date due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Titans organization that had seven players and six personnel members test positive, Week 4 will now serve as the Steelers bye week.
The Steelers have had eight bye weeks in Week 4 or earlier since 1990 (1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2012), per Pro Football Reference. The Steelers won 10 or more games and made the playoffs in five of those seasons -- 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005, which they played 17 consecutive games and as road warriors as the No. 6 seed won the Super Bowl that year.
In 2000, the Steelers went 9-7 and missed the playoffs, just as they did in 2006 and 2012 when they finished 8-8 in respective seasons. In addition to the Steelers heroic Super Bowl run in 2005, the Steelers have made it to at least the Divisional Round in the playoffs when having an early bye four times. In 1996 they lost to the Patriots, 28-3, in the Divisional Round; in 1997 they lost in the AFC Championship Game to the Broncos, 24-21; in 2001 they lost the AFC Championship Game to the Patriots, 24-17, and in 2002 they lost in the Divisional Round to the Titans, 34-31.
NFL bye weeks typically begin in Week 4 and end by Week 12. The only exception to this was in 1999, 2000 and 2001. The new Browns were created in 1999 and brought the league to an odd number of teams. With 31 teams in the league, at least one team was on a bye every week during the regular season. In 2001, the Steelers had a bye week in Week 3, but all games in Week 2 were moved to Week 17 because of 9/11, so they had two weeks off following their Week 1 game until they played again. The Steelers played 17 consecutive games up until they lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game after a 13-3 regular season.
While the Steelers were laid a bad hand with getting an unexpected Week 4 bye, it's not the first time that the organization had to play 13 or more games to close out a season, or in the case of the 2005 Steelers, 17 consecutive games that ended in a 21-10 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. So the odds of making the playoffs or making a Super Bowl run are not completely against them.
The last time the Steelers had a bye in Week 4 was in 2012. Ironically, they played the Eagles in Week 5 that year at Heinz Field, which was a Steelers' 16-14 win. The Steelers are 5-3 in their next game when coming off an early bye week since 1990.