Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles are based in the state of Pennsylvania.
The rivalry between them has been unofficially named “The Battle of Pennsylvania,” but in reality, the rivalry isn’t really that intense.

According to Fanduel’s NFL spreads, the Eagles are outperforming the Steelers by a mile, but this wasn’t always the case.


How It Began

The rivalry began in 1933, making it one of the oldest rivalries in NFL history. At this point, the Steelers went under a different name – the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Photo: WTAE

Although you could argue that the Steelers originated from the J.P. Rooneys and the Eagles were once the Frankford Yellow Jacket, the NFL doesn’t recognize these 1921 and 1899 beginnings. 

In 1933, the blue laws were introduced to Pennsylvania, which meant that sporting events were allowed to take place on a Sunday.

In their first meeting, the Eagles won by a landslide – 25 to 6. However, this win meant nothing outside of Pennsylvania. Both teams struggled to keep up with their finances and the league overall.

There wasn’t a real rivalry at this point, however, that all changed when New York City Playboy Alexis Thompson bought the Steelers. Art Rooney, the previous owner, then bought a partnership with the Eagles. This allowed multiple deals to occur between the two teams, forcing players to switch sides. 

This heavy-handed change is what kickstarted the aggression between fans.


The Steagles

In 1943, during the Second World War, both teams lost players as they were called to serve. The NFL was one of the only shining lights during this dark time. It boosted morale and kept a sense of normality during this grief-stricken time.  

To keep the games going, the Steelers and the Eagles temporarily merged. They were now the Steagles. The merger was only approved for the year due to the war. When the year was up, but the war was still going, the Steelers were happy to continue this merger. 

The league allowed it, but the Eagles didn’t agree. This became a thorn in the Steeler’s side. A rejection they wouldn’t forget.

Desperate to continue playing, the Steelers had to look elsewhere. This is when they merged with the Chicago Cardinals making a new team name of Card-Pitt.

A year later, the war ended, and so did the blight on the Pennsylvania players. Both teams were able to reach the playoffs. The Eagles knocked the Steelers out of the league, and they wouldn’t get back into that position for another 25 years.


Competing For The Worst NFL Record

This luck didn’t last for long, as the 50s and 60s didn’t fare well for either team. When one team was up, the other was down, but neither of them was truly greater than the other. 

In 1968, both teams decided to play a new tactical game – become the worst NFL team. A new rookie was about to enter the drafts, and his name was O.J Simpson. Both teams needed this rising star on their field to get them out of this rut, but the only way they could get him was to sink their current season.

Of course, you can’t simply refuse to play; otherwise, the NFL would fine the team. Instead, they had to play well, but not well enough to beat their rival.

In the end, neither of them grabbed Simpson as he was picked up by the Buffalo Bills.


A History Decade-By-Decade

There was no real bust-up between the two teams, and the last real kick in the teeth was during the 1940s. 

The rivalry between these two teams is for the show, as it helps to get the fans and teams pumped for the matches.

  • In the 1930s, the Steelers won 7 games while the Eagles won 6. This was the only time in which the Steelers were in the lead.
  • In the 1940s, the Eagles won 12 times against the Steelers, once against Card-Pitt, while the Steelers only won 4 times.
  • In the 1950s, the Eagles won 12 times, while the Steelers won 8 times.
  • In the 60s, the Eagles won 10 times, while the Steelers won 5.
  • In the 70s, the Eagles won twice, while the Steelers won once. At this point, the management of the NFL had changed, and these two teams didn’t play against each other as much.
  • In the 80s, they only played one match against each other, and the Eagles won by one point.
  • In the 90s, they matched up against each other 3 times, with the Eagles winning twice. The same thing happened in the 00s.
  • While in the 2020s and 2010s, they both won one game each for each decade.

Summary

The rivalry between the two players didn’t come from malice or bad sportsmanship. Instead, the rivalry was born from location, spurred on through managerial decisions, and then continued through close matches and the Eagle’s dominance.

If you look at the matches in detail, you’ll notice that many of them had just a couple of points between them. But with the Eagles winning more often than not, you cannot deny their superiority. 


Featured Image: WTAE
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