I love this game. Along with it being one of my earliest memories as a young fan, it's also a truly amazing look at the most talent-laden team in NFL history at the absolute peak of its game.
There has never been a better defense; don't even bother trying to debate it. And in my opinion, the '76 team -- when healthy -- was the greatest football team ever assembled -- offense, defense, special teams -- and this game shows them at their pinacle.
It's not that the Steelers play a perfect game; they don't. But they are so overwhelming that the 11-3 Colts with their #1-rated offensive scoring machine led by All Pro Bert Jones manage just 99 yds net passing and 71 yds rushing while the full-throttle Steelers pile up 526 yards (301 passing and 225 rushing) and lay 40 points on Baltimore.
And it could have been worse because the Steelers leave a TD on the field after a Reggie Harrison fumble at the Colts' 2 and are deep in Baltimore territory again as time expires.
Bradshaw, finally healthy after missing 6 games with neck and wrist injuries, is utterly flawless, hitting 14 of 18 for 264 yds and 3 TDs including a 76-yd TD bomb to Frank Lewis on the game's 3rd play. The O-line manhandles Baltimore and clears the way for Franco to run wild for 132 yds (122 in the first 30 minutes) with 3 catches for another 24 yds before being injured. Swann is fantastic, snagging 5 passes (several in heavy traffic) for 77 yds and 2 TDs.
And that defense... sweet mother of Mary. They are absolutely suffocating. Baltimore has one fluke drive early, capped by a truly beautiful Jones-to-Carr TD pass, but they don't sniff the end zone again until garbage time. You have to keep in mind, this was the #1 offense in football and the Steel Curtain just shakes them like a rag doll. There's a great statistical comparison at the start of the game between the Baltimore offense and Pittsburgh defense: Points (Colts scored 417, Steelers allowed 138), TDs (51 scored by the Colts, 13 allowed by Pittburgh), yards, etc. The Colts were a very talented team... and the Steelers just swallow them whole.
Unfortunately, the Steelers are ravaged by key injuries in this game. Franco, Rocky and Frenchy all go down, leaving Reggie Harrison (primarily a special teamer and short yardage back) as the only healthy running back on a team that had been the NFL's #1 rushing attack. Roy Gerela's kicking duties are assumed by The Ranger, center Ray Mansfield, meaning FG's would no longer be an option. So frustrating, because this incredible team was headed for a 3-peat had they been able to stay healthy.
The footage ends with 2 minutes remaining in the game, but no scoring is missed. I'm not sure who specifically to thank for this game as it suddenly began popping up on YouTube and FB recently, but I'm eternally grateful to whomever made this long-lost gem available!
"Lambert didn't see me coming until the last instant. He tried to square up but couldn't, and I drilled him -- just floored him. The play went for a score, and he got up cussing and yelling with the wildest eyes I've ever seen!" More...
I was a failed Steeler draft choice as a tight end coming out of Nebraska in
1978 (7th round, selected 187th overall), but during my brief stint with the team, I experienced a couple of memorable Jack Lambert moments first hand that I thought your readers would enjoy.
Lambert was as intimidating in camp as he was in games... maybe even more so. Nobody
messed with Jack. NOBODY. His respect was solid within the team. He was his own man and was not
into political correctness in the slightest because I believe his heart was
pure and he was comfortable within himself. At our first team lunch with the
vets in camp, we had to stand up and introduce ourselves -- rookies and star veterans alike -- and tell what school we played for. When it came his turn, Jack stood up on
his chair and shouted like a Marine drill sergeant, "I'm Jack Lambert,
I'm from Grambling and if you don't like it, you can kiss my
skinny white a$$!" He sat back down without even a trace of a smile and the
place just went nuts, howling and laughing. Grambling is, of course, a predominantly "black"
state university in Louisiana...
Given enough time, nearly any discussion of the Steelers will eventually turn to the greatest "what if" in the annals of Pittsburgh sports: What if the Steelers had drafted Dan Marino? Oddly enough, this subject came up during a conversation about the 1990 Steelers' 35-0 victory over the Browns. One thing led to another, and... well, Marino, of course. :)
"In my hypothetical, the Steelers draft Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft and the Steelers go to the Super Bowl at least four, maybe five times between 1983 through 1999." ~ Matthew Simon
Seems legit. Personally, I think Marino would've been good for one, maybe two more Lombardi's in Pittsburgh. What are your thoughts?
Random pic of Jack Lambert kicking @$$... just because.
Watch 70's Steelers Games on MP4 Go ahead, get stuck in the '70s! We've been converting our extensive library of classic Steelers games (as they were originally broadcast by the networks) from VHS to digital. Now you can relive these fantastic gridiron battles right here! Games that are ready to watch will have a green light next to them on the list. If you don't see a green light, the game isn't there yet (but wil be coming soon). More...Fan Message Board Let your voice be heard on our fan message board! Connect with other fans, share your thoughts on the Steelers or weigh in on about just about any other topic you find of interest. More...
Short Clip of the Week
The 1976 Steeler Defense - Greatest of All Time
At the start of the 1976 season, four losses in their first five games left the Steelers almost lifeless. When rookie QB Mike Kruczek took over for an injured Terry Bradshaw against he division-leading Cincinnati Bengals, the turning point was at hand.
The Steel Curtain answered the call and what followed was the most amazing defensive streak in modern hstory, the dimensions of which offer statistical delights to even the most casual football historians. After their 1-4 start, the Steelers win 10 straight games. The defense does not allow a touchdown in 22 consecutive quarters nor in 8 of the last 9 regular season games and totally blanks 5 of its last 8 opponents. Five shutouts and only 28 points allowed over 9 games, folks. There has never been anything like it in NFL history.
Our first prayer is that Ryan Shazier makes a full recovery that allows him to lead a normal, full and happy life; that he'll be able to walk and run and play with his children. Thankfully, he continues to improve and appears to be on that path, although playing football again may or may not be in his future. Spinal stabilization surgery means he won't return to football this season, but it doesn't necessarily rule out football in his future. We continue to pray for Ryan, his family and his continued improvement.
While I was glad to see the Steelers do the right thing this week by standing respectfully during the National Anthem, the Ravens chose to disgrace themselves by taking a knee for a phony "prayer" prior to the Anthem, for which they were lustily booed by their home crowd. Meanwhile, players on other NFL teams continue to disrespect the flag.
Roger Goodell could easily put an end to this nonsense. But presumably for the sake of political correctness...
Comments by dbsfgyd1
"He was the first Steeler I met. It was the spring of 1964. The local YMCA had a 'Night With the Steelers' son and dads program. I became a fan during the 1963 season as the Steelers finally put together a championship caliber team, but fell short in a semi playoff game against the NY Giants. I was thinking I'd be meeting guys the likes of John Henry Johnson, Gary Bauman, Big Daddy Lipscomb. The thing was, the only Steeler that showed up was this skinny guy with a movie projector in one arm, and a film can in the other. It was the NFL highlight film of the 1963 season. Funny looking back on it, as thoroughly disappointed I was not so see any 'real' football players that night, little did I know, and how unimpressed I was to meet the second most important man in the history of the Steelers; a keen business man, the one who molded the most successful team in the history of professional sports, the key driver of turning this team and others into billion dollar enterprises, selected to represent all of all of us Americans as an ambassador, Mr. Dan Rooney. RIP. A life truly well lived."
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