Tim Benz: Steelers, Penguins both idling in Pittsburgh playoff purgatory

Pittsburgh once referred to itself as the “City of Champions,” based on the success of its sports teams in the 1970s, 1990s and early 2000s.

Of late, though, those franchises have gone from playoff champions to playoff chumps.

• The Penguins’ recently completed playoff series loss to the New York Rangers was the team’s fifth consecutive series defeat and fourth first-round exit in a row.

• The Steelers have lost four straight playoff games. They are 3-7 in the postseason since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2010. The organization has failed to win a playoff game in nine of its last 11 seasons. Four of those years have ended without a playoff berth at all. And the club hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2016 campaign. That five-year drought is the longest since the Immaculate Reception in 1972.

• And the Pirates? Well, the extent of their playoff participation since 1992 has been three wild-card games (2013-15) and one divisional-round loss (2013). So, we’ll leave them out of the conversation until management gives us a reason to include them.

The Penguins and Steelers are both stuck in very similar places. Pittsburgh playoff purgatory. They are usually good enough to make the playoffs — an amazing 16 years in a row for the Penguins, 10 out of 15 years in the Mike Tomlin era for the Steelers.

But they sure aren’t doing much when they get there anymore.


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