The Green Bay Packers are 3-5 and looking to get back into the NFC Playoff picture with a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. It is certainly a tall order. Gilbert Brown, on his “Go Dads Go with Gilbert Brown” podcast, stated that Pittsburgh is a very hard place to play for visiting teams.
While the Steelers will reportedly be without three-time First Team All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and while their offense is, to put it plainly, not very good, their defense has led them to a 5-3 record thus far, including a 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week Nine.
Of course, the Steelers defense is led by former Wisconsin Badgers linebacker and 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt, who already has 9.5 sacks this season. The offensive line is going to certainly be challenged in a big way.
But if they are able to limit Watt’s pass rush, and if the Packers’ offense plays like it did in the second half against the Los Angeles Rams (after losing two fumbles early), Jordan Love and his team can do something that no Green Bay team has done since Bart Starr’s final season as starting quarterback:
Beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Aaron Rodgers Was 0-1 Against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the Road When He Played for the Green Bay Packers
Of course, every Packers fan remembers that it was the Steelers whom Rodgers and the Packers defeated in Super Bowl XLV. However, Rodgers only faced Pittsburgh two other times in the regular season during his career, going 1-1. He lost his only game against them on the road.
That game was on December 20, 2009. Green Bay came into the contest 9-4 while Pittsburgh was 6-7. Rodgers did not play poorly with a passer rating of 101.3, but his completion percentage was well below 60%. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns.
Green Bay’s defense, though, could not stop the Steelers’ offense, even though Rodgers and the offense had taken a 36-30 lead late in the fourth quarter. Ben Roethlisberger threw a 19-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace on the final play of the game to give Pittsburgh the 37-36 victory.
The Green Bay Packers Were 0-1 on the Road Against the Pittsburgh Steelers When Brett Favre Was Quarterback
For Favre, the first game he ever started for Green Bay was a home game against the Steelers, which the Packers won 17-3. Unfortunately, he won just one more game against the Steelers in his many years as the Packers’ starting quarterback and finished 2-2 against them. Additionally, he lost a game on the road in Pittsburgh as the starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, making his career record against them 2-3.
The lone road game that Favre started for the Packers against the Steelers was on November 9, 1998. Favre did not play particularly well, completing 22 of 39 pass attempts (56.4%) for 234 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception.
Green Bay, like the 2023 team, struggled in the first half, staking the Steelers to a 27-0 lead at halftime. While the Packers were able to put up 20 points in the second half while shutting out Pittsburgh the rest of the way, their 27-20 loss was not as close as it looks on paper.
The only touchdown the offense scored was a two-yard run by Raymont Harris. Keith McKenzie returned a fumble 88 yards for their other touchdown.
So What Does This All Mean for Jordan Love and the 2023 Green Bay Packers?
Aside from making a bit of history, it means absolutely nothing. The 2023 Packers are far from be comparable to the 1998 team (coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances) or the 2009 team. They are far younger and far more inexperienced.
It is a good reminder, though, that winning on the road in a place like Pittsburgh is difficult. Rodgers and Favre only got one shot apiece while wearing a Packers uniform, and they could not get it done.
Oh, and the last win Green Bay achieved in Pittsburgh, Bart Starr’s final win as the Packers’ starting quarterback? It was a real slugfest, as Dusty Evely outlines in this thread:
The winning QB for the Packers the last time they beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh was Bart Starr. It was his last win as QB of the Packers.
— Dusty (@DustyEvely) November 8, 2023
If one were to explore the thread, one would find that, in that win, Starr completed a whopping 43.8% of his passes.
Overall, the Packers are just 7-8 on the road all-time in Pittsburgh, dating back to 1935. They are currently on a five-game losing streak in the Steel City that dates all the way back to 1980.