Steelers 35, Cowboys 31
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*Cowboys fans LOVE to whine about the Jackie Smith drop (which, contrary to popular belief, occurred in the 3rd quarter, not the 4th). It wouldn't have changed a thing, my bruthas. Bradshaw's final pass, a beautiful 18-yard TD dart to Swann that upped the Steeler lead to 35-17, came with just 6 and 1/2 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Here's a little statistical QB comparison between Bradshaw & Staubach at that point in the game:
Bradshaw 17 of 30, 56.7%, 318 yards, 4 TDs, 1 Int, Rating 124.0
Staubach 7 of 17, 41.2%, 115 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, Rating 59.7
My point? Staubach's final game stats ended up looking pretty good (17 of 30, 228 yds, 3 TD, 1 Int) and suggest a shoot-out, but the above stats portray a much more accurate picture of the game. The bulk of Jolly Roger's yardage, completions, & TDs came in GARBAGE TIME! The Cowboys of that era were a great team... a dyanasty in their own right... but they were simply out-classed by the Steelers.
By Charles Paul Conn, No Easy Game, 1979, Flemming H. Revell Company
(slightly reworded, rearranged, and otherwise modified by Yours Truly)
By the end of the first month of the 1978 season, the Steelers were the dominant team in the NFL. They crunched through opponents week after week in a fashion almost boring in its predictability. The Steelers finished the regular season with a 14-2 record, best in the league, and went into the playoffs with a full head of steam.
The Second Season. Playoff time. On two consecutive weekends at Three Rivers Stadium, the Steelers blew away the postseason hopes of the Denver Broncos and the Houston Oilers. The Oiler game, played on a sloppy-wet field, was close until the final two minutes of the first half, when the Steelers exploded for 17 points in 48 seconds to bring the excitement-- and the Oilers' Super Bowl Dreams-- to a premature end.
Then it was on to Miami for a re-match with the Dallas Cowboys. This time the shoe was on the other foot: it was the Cowboys who were the defending champions, the Steelers who were the challengers. Both teams flew into Miami in a flurry of confident predictions; and even thought the early oddsmakers' line had the Steelers as the favorite, it was by the thinnest of edges. Staubach, like Bradshaw, was coming off a superb season. The Cowboys' Tony Dorsett gave his team a slight edge in the running game. Both defensive units were the best in their respective conferences. Like Super Bowl X, it was a dream matchup; and this time the winning team would become the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls.
Even for the traditionally overpublicized Super Bowl, it was a week of unusually intense media coverage. Dallas linebacker Thomas Henderson, eager for headlines, tried to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the press for outrageous quotes and opinions. Demonstrating a singular lack of imagination, he resorted finally to the old, worn attacks on Bradshaw's intelligence, gaining the attention, if not the respect, of football fans aroud the country. Newsweek magazine devoted its cover to Henderson and Bradshaw, and Time did feature stories on Bradshaw & Staubach. Even those sports fans who had learned to yawn at the Super Bowl in earlier years became interested in this first Super Bowl re-match. It seems impossible that the game, when finally played, would be able to live up to its lavish billing.
It did, with some to spare. From the opening kickoff to the final play, the game had all the drama and excitement that pro football promises but rarely delivers. In their first possession, the Steelers sent the Dallas defense a message that set the tone for the rest of the game. It was cool and overcast, with a light rain falling on the natural turf, when Bradshaw dropped back for his first pass of the day. The Cowboy linebackers were blitzing, and he zipped the ball over them to Stallworth for ten yards and a first down over the middle. Steadily they moved downfield. On his fourth pass of the day, Bradshaw rolled to his left and lobbed a 28-yarder to Stallworth in the corner of the endzone. It looked easy, and the score was 7-0 almost without a chance for the Dallas defense to flex its muscles.
Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way long. Bradshaw, trying to pass from his own territory, was hit from behind by Harvey Martin and fumbled the ball at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line. Ed "Too Tall" Jones fell on the fumble, and three plays later Staubach hit Tony Hill for a TD that tied the game 7-7.Things kept going downhill from there. On the next possession, Bradshaw fumbled as he moved into the pocket, grabbed the ball as it bounced off the turf, and was immediately racked by Thomas Henderson and Mike Hegman. Hegman somehow stripped the ball from Bradshaw and ran unmolested into the endzone for a sudden, stunning touchdown. And in two possessions, on two Bradshaw fumbles, the Steelers had slid from a 7-point lead to a 7-point deficit. There was 12:08 left in the half, and it was plainly panic-time for Bradshaw and the Steeler offense. Momentum was swingingwildly in the Cowboys' direction.
Bradshaw, badly jolted on the fumble, came onto the field for the next offensive series. Harris butted once into the middle of the line. Harris butted again into the middle of the line. Things were bogging down.Then Bradshaw dropped into the pocket, looked to his left, and whipped a pass back across field to Stallworth, who was waiting near the right sideline. Stallworth gathered in the ball, juked a step or two, sidstepped a defender, and raced 75 yards for the TD that tied the game once again. Bradshaw, still woozy from the Henderson/Hegman sandwich he'd experienced on the fumble a few plays before, somehow got to the bench and slowly regained his senses as the team's trainers waved amonia capsules under his nose.
The Steelers were back in it, and just before the half went ahead to stay. The Cowboys were driving for what would have been a go-ahead score just before the half, when Mel Blount intercepted a Staubach pass. 1:41 remained on the clock. Bradshaw picked up 29 yards on a flanker screen to Swann, who made an amazing run after catch, dodging, spinning & leaping over would-be tacklers until he was finally dragged down. Before Dallas could recover, Bradshaw rifled another pass covering 21 yards to Swann, who soared high to make one of his patented, leaping grabs at the 16 yard line. A Harris run nearly went the distance, but Franco was tripped up at the Dallas seven. Then, on 3rd and 1 with 26 seconds left, Bradshaw sprinted right on a run-pass option play and lobbed a beautiful touch pass to Rocky Bleier (who made an unbelievable leaping grab) in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown that put Pittsburgh ahead to stay.
It was all over but the laughing, and there was plenty of that in the 4th quarter. Explosion! Bradshaw takes over at his own 18-yard line. A beautiful 3rd down completion right at the sticks to Grossman. Another bullet to Swann to Swann for 15 yards. Then a long interference call on a pass to Swann, and two plays later the Steelers have a 3rd & 9 on the Dallas 22 yard line. Dummy Bradshaw sees it coming and calls an audible, a trap play with Franco Harris plunging inside left tackle. It was candy. Touchdown, and a 28-17 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the roof fell in. The Cowboys fumbled the kickoff and the Steelers recovered on the 18-yard line. First play: Bradshaw to Swann, right over the middle, for the second Steeler touchdown in a 17-second period. The score was 35-17, and the lights went out in Dallas.
When it was all over, the Steelers were once again world champions by a score of 35-31. Terry Bradshaw had completed 17 of 30 passes for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns, setting numerous Super Bowl records along the way. He was unamimously named Most Valuable Player of the game. And unlike Super Bowl X, this time he finished the game on his feet, and not on a stretcher.
In the Steeler locker room, amid the bedlam and celebration of their Super Bowl victory over Dallas, CoachChuck Noll said of his team: "I don't believe we've peaked yet. We may be on our way to bigger and better things."
And so it might be said of Terry Bradshaw. In life as well as in football, he may well not have peaked yet. He may be on his way to bigger and better things ahead.