The Hall of Fame Game is over, but the winner could be in for a surprise going into 2021.
There's the Madden curse, the Super Bowl hangover, and the numerous curses floating around the NFL as teams try to figure out why they are not good enough to go all the way. Add a "Hall of Fame Game" curse to this list, because no NFL team has won the Super Bowl after winning the Hall of Fame Game.
If they don't win the Super Bowl, what's left to play for? Here's a look at the last five Hall of Fame Game winners and how their season ended.
The Hall of Fame Game poltergeists
#1 - Denver Broncos (2019)
The Broncos won the first preseason game of 2019. They beat the Falcons 14-10, setting up hope for a disgruntled fan base. However, their season ended with a sub-.500 record as the team finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
#2 - Baltimore Ravens (2018)
The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Chicago Bears in a surprisingly competitive game, winning 17-16. This was the first look at Lamar Jackson, who was the backup to Joe Flacco at the time. Flacco was replaced by Jackson later that season. That set up a run to the playoffs for the first time in four years. The team lost in the first round.
#3 - Dallas Cowboys (2017)
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Arizona Cardinals 20-18. They went on to have a watchable, if somewhat disappointing, season that saw them finish 9-7, but they ended up missing the playoffs regardless.
#4 - Minnesota Vikings (2015)
The Vikings controlled the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning 14-3. They went on to finish 11-5 and made the playoffs after winning the division. Teddy Bridgewater was the quarterback, setting up the team to defeat the Seattle Seahawks with a late field goal, which kicker Blair Walsh missed in epic fashion.
#5 - New York Giants (2014)
The New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 17-13. It was a season that saw the Giants finish 6-10 and miss the playoffs. That was the penultimate year that Tom Coughlin would coach the Giants.
What does this mean for the Steelers?
Based on the last five Hall of Fame Game winners, a number of outcomes are possible.
Three of the five teams to win the Hall of Fame Game missed the playoffs. However, history shows that there is a ceiling for the Steelers. None of the teams to win the Hall of Fame Game went on to win a playoff game in their last five chances.
Will the Steelers upend the trend, break the curse, and live happily ever after? After a 12-4 season and a strong returning roster, it seems the Steelers are in position to do so. That said, until the rubber meets the road, nothing is certain.