|Super Bowl X|
Steelers 21, Cowboys 17
|Date: January 18, 1976
Venue: Orange Bowl, Miami, FL|
MVP: Lynn Swann
FINAL PASSING STATISTICS
Quarterback Rating: 122.5
Don't Forget... Swann Had Some Help
Of course, it's Lynn Swann's gravity-defying performance that
everyone remembers from this classic game (deservedly so). But lost
amid Swann's heroics and Lambert's fury was a superb performance
by Terry Bradshaw. As is often the case with Terry, the stats (9 of 19,
209 yds, 2 TDs) are not indicative of how truly great he was.
Bradshaw made numerous big plays in this game, the biggest of
which was a throw I doubt ANY other quarterback could've made...
the spectacular deep 64-yard post to Swann for the game-winning
TD. With Cowboys hanging all over him, Terry lauched a perfect
bomb that travelled over 65 yards in the air, hitting Swann (who was
well-covered) perfectly in stride to put the game out of reach. It was a
throw that NFL Films recently voted "the Greatest Pass of All Time." I
Steelers 2nd Straight
Title was Just Super
By Phil Musick, The Pittsburgh Press
Miami, Jan. 18, 1976 -- Even the seagulls might have found this one interesting.
Yessir, about Thursday they're going to have to break Pete Rozelle's jaw in siz places to get the smile off his face. The Super Bowl -- formerly a long-running ad for No-Doz -- is finally a smash.
Thanks to the Steelers and a cliche', at least a temporary halt has been called to nine years of games following which it was necessary to wake the crowd up, explain the teams had spent 60 minutes trading midfield fumbles and point to the exits.
Yesterday, the Steelers did whatever it took, along with marvelous things for cardiac arrest to outlast Dallas, 21-17, for a second straight Super Bowl trophy and the right to bill themselves as the latest thing in NFL dynasties since Green Bay turned the trick in 1966-67 and Miami duplicated it in 1973-74.
For once, ennui did not edge tedium. All the world -- really only an Orange Bowl crowd of 80,187 and 70 or so million people not watching "I Love Lucy" re-runs -- saw the Steelers wilt the Dallas flex, twist Tom Landry's shotgun into a granny knot, and reduce "playing them one at a time" to second place on your list of favorite football cliche's.
Right there at the top -- etched deeply into the frontal lobes of every Steeler fan -- stood those words which someday may rank right up there in historical importance with "To the best of my recollection" and "How's your cow, Mrs. O'Leary?"
They would be, of course: Whatever it takes. Words that must be inscribed on Chuck Noll's scivvies. You know Chuck. Vince Lombardi with couth? What Don Shula was before Larry Czonka took the money and ran?
A CLICHE' TO LIVE BY
Whatever it takes. A cliche' to live by. And yesterday, as the gulls soared in a sky bluer than Big D's heart, it took a whole lot of things.
A pair of gut-shot field goals by a kicker who shanked his first two tries. And a 59-yard punt by a guy whose insides were quivering because, at 37, he'd made the biggest gaffe of a long and honorable career.
And it took a play called 333, which Noll had stuffed at the bottom of his playbook to be lifted up on just such a day, and another called 60 flankerpost.
And it took a blocked punt by a reserve fullback and Jack Lambert starting fights and breathing inspirational fire on his teammates.
And it took, as usual, those old Steeler heroes -- Franco Harris (27 pops, 87 yards) and Terry Bradshaw (9 of 19, 209 yards and critically zero interceptions) and defense like the Russians played it in that long ago Super Bowl against Napoleon.
What all of this produced was a game that... was... well... super. And forget the eight fumbles and three Steeler interceptions and the Cowboy offense giving its swell imitation of the Maple St. Tigers at their flee flickeringest.
Ultimately, what prevailed were talent and staying power and pure skill and luck. What dropped by the wayside were Dallas' untimely errors, Landry's reputation as an innovative genius, and such gadgetry as the flex and the shotgun.
However, not before Dallas acquiered leads of 7-0, 10-7, and 10-9 and not before there had been played all but nine minutes of Big X. At which point, knock them out of their jocks football took precedence over gimmickry.
"I ate Ralph Nelly's lunch," exhulted Dwight White, referring to the Dallas guard who was frequently guilty of holding. The Cowboys' use of plays such as the one in which Roger Staubach handed off to Preston Pearson, who lateraled back to Staubach, who got smeared, hurt the game's esthetics.
"They tried to fool us," White sneered mightily. "All that stuff is junk. And they stayed with it all the way. You can't play catch-up with junk stuff."
SITTING ON THE LEAD
"At the half, they led, 10-7, but they were trying to hatch those 10. All that really happened was that we made three mistakes. We gave them field position with the opening kickoff return (a 53-yard gain on a reverse) we fumbled on the punt and we just blew a pass coverage.
"They hadn't dona a damn thing but run junk and they wanted us to lose our cool. But at the half, we didn't get nervous, eat at each other. We knew sooner or later we'd score some points.
"And they'd be in bad trouble."
Before that happened, two errors had given Dallas 10 points, one by punter Bobby Walden. Reaching nervously for a cigarette as Andy Russell was peering into the kleig lights and announcing Lynn Swann and Art Rooney had been given game balls, Walden talked about mishandling a center snap that led to a Staubach touchdown pass to Drew Pearson and a 7-0 Dallas lead in the firt four minutes.
"I just took my eyes off the ball. It happens to every punter once in a while," Walden said, the butterflies still alive in his eyes. "You have to forget it.
"You try not to press after something like that. Sometimes you don't succeed."
Later, Walden swallowed hard and succeeded.
So did good, old dusty 333 and Randy Grossman, who combined with Bradshaw on a 7-yard pass for the 7-7 equalizer.
For all of Noll's season, the Steelers, when close to the goal line, have run from their three tight end offense. Guard Gerry Mullins lines up as a third tight end and the Steelers run inside. Yesterday, they passed. For the first time since even Noll coundn't recall when.
"I'm like the Lone Ranger -- leave the silver bullet and split," smiled Grossman as he slipped from a subdued locker room scene hyped frosty by telelvision technicians tripping over one another.
"Early in the game, we'd run on that play to give them a look at it. Then we threw the pass."
LAMBERT TAKES OVER
Enter Jack Lambert and his angry nature, jumping at Cowboys safety Cliff Harris when he tried to embarrass Gerela after a miss, and exchanging swipes, and then grins, with ex-teammate Preston Pearson. And, when the Steelers were behind and the clock was runnng, playing like a linebacker possessed.
"Lambert was the guy who sparked us," Joe Greene said. "When it wasn't going good for us, he held it together. He made 3-4 licks that just got us going. You could just feel it."
After Lambert got the Steeler heart beating, Reggie Harrison -- caddy to Franco Harris -- headed Super Bowl X in the right direction. With his tongue.
With Dallas up, 10-7, four minutes into the final quarter, Harrison, Walden, and Noll pooled their finest efforts for the play which everyone later agreed prevented the Cowboys from matching their 1972 Super Bowl win over Miami.
First, Walden punted 59-yards to back the Cowboys into the proverbial goal-post shadow. Then, Noll ordered an uncommon 10-man rush as Dallas punter Mitch Hoopes' heels rested on the goal-line.
Hoopes took the snap, stepped up and... let's let Harrison tell it. "I don't know what happened," he said. "I just came up the middle. I was going to block that one... it was mine. I was always scared to block one before because I'd get kicked."
Harrison did, on the tongue, as the ball bounded out of the end zone for the safety that made it 10-9.
"Look," Harrison opened his mouth hugely. "Man, cut my tongue. I'm going to put a $1,000 bill on it and see what happens."
What happened after that was Gerela finally finding the range, nuding one barely over the crossbar for points that gave the Steelers their first lead, 12-10, and three minutes later coverting a Mike Wagner interception into three more points.
All day it had been raining on the Cowboys; the deluge was about to fall. "They'd had the lead, but the pressure was on them," said Greene, who shared playing time with Steve Furness.
Gerela's second straight field goal triggered an ending that even Rozelle couldn't have written.
With three minutes to play, the Steelers scored for the fourth time in 480 seconds. Swann, who'd been doing a number on Dallas conerman Mark Washington all day -- four receptions for 161 yards -- went deep on a ditty called "60 Maximum Flanker Post." Bradshaw scrambled, and wearing blitzing linebacker D.D. Lewis as a twin-knee brace, pumped it into what by now had indeed become the wild blue yonder. Swann took it in stride and wen the distance.
It, at that point, was over, save for the last-minute attempt to provide heart failure for anyone who'd missed it earlier.
In the final two minutes, Staubach hit rookie Percy Howard for a 34-yard touchdown to make it 21-17, and then the Steelers failed in trying a fourth-down run at midfield to prevent a punt block, setting the stage for what football coaches perceive as character.
Three times Staubach fired bombs into the Steeler end zone, one just tricking off Howard's desperate fingertips. The game ended when the last pass was intercepted by Glen Edwards, who ran out of harm's way as the clock expired.
"We did what we had to do," Greene said. "That is what this football team does. This is the best damn team in football."
Dressing slowly as the room cleared, Noll tended to agree. There had not been a particular turning point, he felt. Unless it had occurred some years before in the building process.
"You make mistakes and it can crush you mentally," he said of his troops' errors. "But this team does not crush."
TOTAL FIRST DOWNS 13 14
Rushing 7 6
Passing 6 8
Penalty 0 0
TOTAL NET YARDAGE 339 330
Total Offensive Plays 67 67
Average Gain per Play 5.1 4.9
NET YARDS PASSING 190 162
Pass Att-Comp-Int 19-9-1 24-15-3
Sacks-Yards Lost 2-19 7-42
Gross Yards Passing 209 204
Avg Gain per Pass Comp 23.2 8.5
Avg Gain per Pass (Incl. Sacks) 9.0 5.2
NET YARDS RUSHING 149 108
Total Rushing Plays 46 31
Average Gain per Rush 3.2 3.5
PUNTS-YARDS 4-159 7-245
Average Distance 39.8 35.0
Had Blocked 0 1
TOTAL RETURN YARDAGE 209 101
Kickoff Returns-Yards 4-89 4-96
Punt Returns-Yards 4-31 1-5
Interception Returns-Yards 3-89 0-0
TOTAL TURNOVERS 0 3
Fumbles-Lost 4-0 4-0
Had Intercepted 0 3
TOTAL POINTS SCORED 21 17
Touchdowns Passing 2 2
Touchdowns Rushing 0 0
Touchdowns Returns 0 0
Extra Points 1 2
Field Goals-Attempts 2-4 1-1
Safeties 1 0
PENALTIES-YARDS 0-0 2-20
THIRD DOWN EFFICIENCY 8/19 3/14
FOURTH DOWN EFFICIENCY 0/0 1/1
TIME OF POSSESSION 29:30 30:30
Pittsburgh Att Comp Yds TD Int Rating
Bradshaw 19 9 209 2 0 122.5
Dallas Att Comp Yds TD Int Rating
Staubach 24 15 204 2 3 65.2
Pittsburgh Att Yds Avg Long TD
Harris 27 82 3.0 11 0
Bleier 15 51 3.4 8 0
Bradshaw 4 16 4.0 8 0
Dallas Att Yds Avg Long TD
Newhouse 16 56 3.5 16 0
Staubach 5 22 4.4 11 0
Dennison 5 16 3.2 5 0
P. Pearson 5 14 2.8 9 0
Pittsburgh Rec Yds Long TD
Swann 4 161 64t 1
Stallworth 2 8 13 0
Harris 1 26 26 0
Grossman 1 7 7t 1
Harris 1 7 7 0
Dallas Rec Yds Long TD
P. Pearson 5 53 14 0
Young 3 31 14 0
D. Pearson 2 59 30 1
Newhouse 2 12 8 0
P. Howard 1 34 34t 1
Fugett 1 9 9 0
Dennison 1 6 6 0
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