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NFL's top dynasties

Steelers of the 1970s are No. 1, Pats not far behind

Posted: Monday February 7, 2005 5:54PM; Updated: Tuesday February 8, 2005 8:56AM
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Pittsburgh Steelers
Lynn Swann led the Steelers past the Cowboys in Super Bowl X.
Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Patriots 24, Eagles 21
Special from the top down
By Peter King
Credit Bill Belichick and the Pats' coaching staff for building a team with a unique hunger for success.
Patriots make their mark
By Don Banks
This year's Super Bowl proves the Pats are among history's best teams.
Snap Judgments: Belichick to HOF
Eagles disappointment
By John Donovan
Eagles will soon look back with regret at all their blown opportunities.
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Owner-cam and Sir Paul McCartney overload: A minute-by-minute account of FOX's Super Bowl broadcast.
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Mike McAllister, SI.com

1. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974-79
Four Super Bowl titles in six years was their net worth. But here's another way to look at it -- had it not been for the Steelers, the Cowboys or the Raiders of that era might have ended up among the top-five NFL dynasties. Ten Steelers, including coach Chuck Noll, eventually ended up in the Hall of Fame. "The Steelers had the best grouping of players in the history of the game," ex-49ers coach Bill Walsh said recently. "No question about it."

2. Green Bay Packers, 1961-67
Five NFL titles in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls. A larger-than-life coach in Vince Lombardi (and a larger-than-life win in the Ice Bowl, Lombardi's last game as the Packers coach at Lambeau). Twelve Hall of Famers. No wonder the Packers only lost 20 games in that seven-year span.

3. Dallas Cowboys 1992-95
Three Super Bowl wins in four years -- and yet the Cowboys will always play the what-if game. What if Jimmy Johnson had remained as coach? And what if Jerry Jones had kept his roster intact instead of seeing it raided by free agency? "I don't believe our team was anywhere near finished doing what we could have done," said QB Troy Aikman.

4. San Francisco 49ers, 1981-89
Two Super Bowl wins for Joe Montana. Then two more throwing to Jerry Rice. Montana's the only three-time Super Bowl MVP; Rice will go down as the league's greatest receiver. The 49ers, of course, were more than just those two. And don't forget the NFL's greatest backup QB, new Hall of Famer Steve Young, who led the 49ers to another Super Bowl in the mid-'90s after Montana's departure.

5. New England Patriots, 2001-04
Unlike the first four teams, the Pats are not a team that relies on stars. Just seven position players since '01 have made the Pro Bowl (compared to the '90s Cowboys with 17 Pro Bowl performers). Instead, it's the coaching of Bill Belichick and his staff that sets the Pats apart. But the dynasty talk can wait for later. "Not now, not for me," Belichick said.

6. Cleveland Browns 1946-55
In a 10-year span, Paul Brown's club won seven titles in the AAFC and the NFL. In '50, when the Browns joined the NFL, their first game was against the defending-champion Eagles. Final score? Browns 35, Eagles 10. Enough said.

7. Miami Dolphins, 1971-73
Three straight Super Bowl appearances, with wins in '72 and '73. Their title success takes a backseat to the undefeated '72 season, the NFL's only perfect mark (17-0). That clinking of champagne glasses each fall comes from Miami when the last undefeated team is finally knocked off. They've downed plenty of bubbly since '72.

8. Chicago Bears 1940-43
George Halas' team won three championships and reached the title game in the other year. The Bears' domination is epitomized in their '40 title win when they routed the Washington Redskins 73-0. That made the 37-9 title victory over the New York Giants the next year pale in comparison.

9. Dallas Cowboys 1970-78
In a nine-season span, Tom Landry's Cowboys played in five Super Bowls and won two. Jim O'Brien's field goal denied them in '70, and the Steelers' dynasty cost the Cowboys two other wins. The more impressive number came in playoff appearances -- 18 straight from '66-83.

10. Buffalo Bills, 1990-93
Can you build a dynasty without actually winning a title? If so, say hello to Marv Levy's Bills. No other team has played in four straight Super Bowls. If victories are required, may we suggest the '64-66 Bills, who reached the AFL title game all three years, winning twice.