It had been more than 30 years since a team started the NFL season with an 0-1-1 record. That’s where the Cleveland Browns found themselves on Thursday, but after a 21-17 win over the New York Jets, the Browns are now, happily, 1-1-1, their first win since Dec. 24, 2016, and the 14th team in NFL history, since the 1970 merger, to start the season with that record.
But that list expanded significantly by the time Week 3 was over. The Packers and Vikings both lost, making them the 15th and 16th teams to ever go 1-1-1. A win on Monday night against the Buccaneers made the Steelers No. 17, and for the second time ever, four teams started the season 1-1-1. (Four teams also did it in 1971.)
It’s a good omen for Pittsburgh — the last time the franchise started with ones across the board was in 1974. They went on to win Super Bowl IX. Two other teams in NFL history to begin 1-1-1 went to the Super Bowl, though they lost.
The last time any team started the season with a 1-1-1 record was 31 years ago. The last ones to do it were the 1987 Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos, a season which gets an asterisk because the league used replacement players during a strike. The Broncos made the Super Bowl, losing to Washington.
The 1971 Dolphins started with that record too. They lost the Super Bowl.
Only one other team to start with a 1-1-1 mark made the playoffs: the 1972 Raiders who lost in the Divisional Round.
Here’s the list of all the teams that started a season 1-1-1 since the merger before this season: (Via Pro Football Reference).
Now we can add four more teams to that list.