When they were the Houston Oilers, they couldn’t get past the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Oilers finished second in the AFC Central to the Steelers six times between 1970 and 1996. That included 1978 and 1979, when they lost back-to-back AFC championship games at Pittsburgh.
As the Titans, they can’t seem to get away from the Steelers.
Sunday’s season-opener at Pittsburgh (noon, CBS) will be the ninth regular season meeting and 10th overall between Tennessee and Pittsburgh since realignment dissolved the old AFC Central and the Titans moved to the AFC South in 2002. The Steelers won five of the eight regular season meetings but Tennessee came away with the lone playoff victory.
By comparison, the Titans since have played Baltimore seven times (five regular season, two playoffs), Cincinnati six times and Cleveland four times. Tennessee is 4-3 overall (1-1 in the playoffs) versus the Ravens, 3-3 against the Bengals and 2-2 with the Browns.
The current scheduling format guarantees a game every three years against teams from the other three divisions within a respective conference. The other two years are dependent on where teams finished in the standings the previous years, which means the Titans and Steelers routinely have fared about the same over the last decade-plus.
“It seems like we have played every year and it always seems like a good game,” Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “So I think the two teams are very similar when it comes to running the ball, being physical, good defenses.”
All-time, the Titans/Oilers have played the Steelers more than any other opponent – 75 times, to be exact. Pittsburgh leads the series 44-31, and has 11 more wins against the franchise than any other team.
The rundown of matchups between the Titans and Steelers since the end of their division rivalry:
Titans 31, Steelers 23 (at Nashville)
Steelers 30, Titans 13 (at Pittsburgh)
Steelers 34, Titans 7 (at Pittsburgh)
Titans 31, Steelers 14 (at Nashville)
Steelers 13, Titans 10 OT (at Pittsburgh)
Steelers 19, Titans 11 (at Nashville)
Steelers 38, Titans 17 (at Pittsburgh)
Titans 26, Steelers 23 (at Nashville)
Divisional round: Titans 34, Steelers 31 OT (at Nashville)