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The Steelers struggled for the first time in many years. The aging defense was not as effective as it had been in the 1978 and '79 seasons, falling from 2nd to 15th in yards allowed. The Steelers also surrendered 313 points, ranked 15th in the league, compared to 262 points (5th in the league) the previous season. The Pittsburgh defense only garnered 18 quarterback sacks.
The offense was still plagued with 42 total turnovers, 42 total, but ranking 6th in total offense, and scoring 352 points.
Despite the team's troubles, the Steelers could have again obtained home-field advantage throughout the playoffs had they not lost several close games, including games against Cincinnati and Cleveland in which they lost despite having large leads in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh remained in the playoff hunt until a 28-13 loss to Buffalo in week 12 and then a 6-0 loss to Houston effectively eliminated Pittsburgh from the postseason.
To many, these two losses marked the end of the Steeler Dynasty. Several key players retired after the 1980 season and the team was never the same again. The 1980 season was the first in which the Steelers did not qualify for the playoffs since 1971.