1981 Steelers 31 vs Giants 6 Preseason
Game joined in progress with Steelers leading 10-0 in 2nd quarter. The Steeler offense is clicking en route to an easy win as Bradshaw throws 2 TDs and Stoudt throws 2 more while a young Phil Simms struggles for New York. A pass-happy Bradshaw throws for nearly 250 yds despite playing only one series into the 3rd quarter and being without starters Swann and Stallworth. Game features rookie LB Lawrence Taylor, strangely wearing #98 instead of #56, who makes his presence known with a 3rd quarter sack of Stoudt. Mark Malone sees significant action at WR and David Trout, whose poor kicking ultimately costs the Steelers multiple games in 1981, gets rave reviews for his deep kickoffs. Video features lots of IC Light commercials and whoever originally recorded this game flips to an episode of Starsky & Hutch at halftime featuring a very perky pre-"Three's Company" Suzanne Summers in the role of a go-go dancer. :) A huge thank you to Jay Korber for generously providing us with this game!
1981 Regular Season
1981 Steelers 33 vs Chiefs 37
7 Pittsburgh turnovers, 9 fumbles (5 lost), terrible place kicking (2 missed PAT's by Trout) and a host of mental errors overshadow a 300-yard passing day by Bradshaw and 100 yards receiving by Stallworth. Sidney Thornton ostensibly ends his career by coughing up the ball 3 times in a dismal 6-carry, 6-yd performance. The O-line repeatedly allows the KC front seven to penetrate literally untouched into the backfield, including on the backbreaking game-ender. Leading 33-30 with 2 minutes left, a first down inside the KC 30 and the Chiefs out of time outs, the Steelers (in spite of their avalanche of mistakes) seemingly have the game won. But as Bradshaw takes the snap and turns to hand the ball off to Franco Harris, LB Frank Manumaleuga crashes untouched through the middle of the line and hits Bradshaw before he can even hand the ball off. OLB Tom Howard (who is also untouched) scoops up the fumble and streaks 65 yards for a shocking game-winning score. Bradshaw's last gasp pass is picked off as the Steelers get off to a nightmare start to the 1981 season. Steelers fans, be warned: you'll spend much of this game wanting to punch announcer Bob Trumpy in the face. A special thanks to Matthew Simon for generously providing this classic video.
1981 Steelers 10 at Dolphins 30
Rough game. Even rougher video quality, plus severely edited huddles. Bradshaw takes a physical beating all evening with very little time from the O-line. The Steelers keep pace early, trailing 13-10 at halftime. But ill-timed penalties, porous run defense and poor special teams doom the Steelers, who give up a back-breaking 87-yard punt return to ice the game. Forced into desperation passes, Bradshaw throws a final pick and that's all she wrote. Ugly, ugly game. A special thanks to "SteelBuck 6" for generously providing this video.
1981 Steelers 38 vs Jets 10
Bradshaw is sharp and Stallworth is outstanding (8 rec, 134 yds), but ultimately it's the multitude of Steeler running backs (Franco Harris, Russell Davis, Frank Pollard and Sidney Thornton) who simply pound the Jets into submission by scoring 5 TDs on the ground and piling up 343 rushing yards. Even Bradshaw rushes for 41 yards and a TD! Early on, Bradshaw uses the pass to set up the run and Pittsburgh achieves near-perfect balance on offense, while Jack Lambert and the aging Steel Curtain defense give Joe Walton's offense NOTHING! This is a good 'ole fashioned butt-kicking.
1981 Steelers 27 vs Patriots 21 OT
Bradshaw to Swann wins a wild one in overtime! The Steelers manhandle the Pats for 3 quarters, piling up nearly 500 yds of offense, but allow the Pats hang around and blow a 14-point lead in the 4th. Bradshaw plays well, especially running (247 yds passing, 2 TDs, 49 yds rushing) while Franco, Pollard and Davis POUND New England as Pittsburgh rushes the ball 45 times for 251 yds. Aside from a few freak plays, the defense also plays well (particularly L.C. Greenwood, who seems to be everywhere). But the Steelers leave too many points on the field. Just before the half, Bradshaw hits Swann with a pinpoint 31-yd pass to the Patriots 1-inch line with 6 seconds left. The Steelers fail to score, however, when Franco is stuffed for no gain with no time outs and the clock ticks to zero. Early in the 3rd quarter, a Pittsburgh INT sets the Steelers up inside the Patriots 10, and this time Franco punches it in. But a pair of missed Trout FGs (of course), a missed safety call by the officials, a pair of HUGE defensive breakdowns on New England "gadget plays", a misread by Russell Davis on what would've been an easy TD pass and a Noll gamble that fails on 4th and 2 with 1:35 left allow a thoroughly outplayed New England team to send game into OT. Lynn Swann puts a quick end to that, snaring two deadly passes in OT, including the 24-yd game winner, leading to a jubilant celebration in the end zone. Features a postgame Costas-Trumpy interview with Terry Bradshaw.
1981 Steelers 20 at Saints 6
Bradshaw and Swann get started early in this one. Bradshaw hits 12 of 14 for 197 yds by halftime and before the 1st quarter is completed, Swann already has 4 receptions, including a 16-yd TD in which he battles defenders to the back of the end zone and makes a leaping grab of a high pass, followed by a perfect toe-tap to complete the score. In the 4th quarter, responsibility switches to Stallworth, who breaks down the left sideline, fakes rookie CB Johnnie Poe out of his jock and hauls in a perfect 47-yd TD bomb as Bradshaw beats a blitz to put the Steelers ahead 20-6. Meanwhile, the Steeler defense tallies 4 INTs and 6 sacks against Archie Manning's backups, Dave Wilson and Bobby Scott. Mel Blount is magnificent with 2 key INTs, multiple passes defensed and a number of backfield tackles for losses against Saints RBs. Pittsburgh plays like a veteran team and their stars make big plays on both sides of the ball as the Steelers outgain the Saints 406 to 180. But rookie LB Rickey Jackson is a real bright spot for the Saints, already flashing Hall of Fame talent with 7 unassisted tackles, a sack and 2 forced fumbles. In the 2nd quarter, Jackson chases Stallworth almost 40 yds downfield after a completion, grabs him from behind, spins him around and strips the ball. Significant video interference in the first half, picture clears up nicely for the 2nd half. Thanks to Paul Wood for generously providing us with this game!
1981 Steelers 13 vs Browns 7
Another classic! Several things stand out in my mind about this game: Swann's unthinkable drop of a sure TD bomb from Bradshaw; Swann's impossible grab of a 40-yard bomb down the right sideline; Blount's eye-popping hit on Calvin Hill. But above all, it's Lambert's BRUTAL, game-ending hit on Brian Sipe that I remember. The second in the trilogy of Lambert/Sipe run-ins, this one is easily the most vicious. Just as Sipe unleashes the ball, Lambert UNLOADS on him full blast, nearly ripping Sipe's head off with a dual forearm-to-the-head shot. Of course, flags fly. I'm telling you, I'm surprised it didn't kill Sipe (and frankly, he probably wished it had). As an added bonus, the cameras frequently pan to a dazed Sipe slumping on the bench with a towel over his head, clearly not knowing what planet he's on. Glorious! As usual, this one goes right down to the wire as Cleveland's "Three Rivers Jinx" continues.
1981 Steelers 7 at Bengals 34
In what is supposed to be a tightly contested game between two 4-2 AFC Central foes battling for first place, the Steelers are thoroughly dominated start to finish. While Cinci piles up 494 yds (the most ever against a Chuck Noll club), Pittsburgh's #1-ranked offense musters only 205 yds and narrowly averts the most lopsided Steelers defeat since 1969 on a Bradshaw TD pass in the final minute of the game. As ugly as it gets. A shout out to Jay Korber for generously providing us with this game!
1981 Steelers 26 vs Oilers 13 MNF
Pittsburgh is all over Houston like a cheap suit on a rainy Monday Night. In spite of outgaining the Oilers 228-88 in the 1st half, a host of Steeler miscues (MORE missed PATs by David Trout and numerous drops by Jim Smith, including a PERFECT 50-yd bomb that hits him in stride in the end zone for a sure TD) keep Oilers in game, allowing them to tie it up 13-13 in the 4th. But Franco takes command late in the game, breaking a 35-yd run to set up the go-ahead TD, then punches it in for another TD moments later following a Johnson Int to seal it.
1981 Steelers 14 vs 49ers 17
Bradshaw vs Montana! Franco is superb, gaining over 100 yards in a losing effort that the Steelers could've (and probably should've) won. Lambert and Blount are fantastic, picking off passes on consecutive drives (Blount's for a 50-yard TD) to turn a 10-0 3rd quarter deficit into a 14-10 lead. But while the Steelers move the ball up and down the field offensively, their 6 turnovers ultimately prove to be too much to overcome.
1981 Steelers 21 at Seahawks 24
Franco breaks 10,000 career rushing yards as the Steelers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Early in the 2nd, Bradshaw hits a WIDE open Mark Malone for a team record 90-yd TD bomb and a 14-3 lead. The Steelers are up 21-3 and seem to be in control when they inexplicably allow Doornink to turn a short pass into a 44-yd TD and the Seahawks are suddenly back in it at 21-10. Trout misses a long 3rd qtr FG attempt that looks more like a squib kick. Early in 4th, Doornink again victimizes Pittsburgh with a short pass that turns into a 34-yd gain to set up a short TD. The crowd is suddenly into it, Seattle has momentum and Zorn hits Largent with a 53-yd bomb to set up another short TD and a 24-21 Seattle lead. Bradshaw responds with a pass to Franco that appears to go for an 82-yd TD, but a questionable holding call overturns the score. The Steelers get one last shot, driving to the Seattle 5 with 20 seconds left when in trots David Trout. Poised to send the game to overtime, Trout misses BADLY with what is probably the worst short kick I've ever seen. Perfect snap, perfect hold with the ball placed on the right hash. Trout hooks it so badly that the ball sails FAR wide left. Another game down the tubes due largely to Trout's horrible kicking. Game features Rocky Bleier in the booth for color commentary.
1981 Steelers 34 at Falcons 20
Terry Bradshaw (14 of 22, 253 yds) is on fire, throwing a career high 5 touchdowns to overshadow a huge day by his counterpart, Steve Bartowski (33 of 50, 416 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT). While Atlanta moves the ball well through the air, they are a turnover factory. In addition to Bartowski's pair of INTs (Lambert and Shell), the Falcons lose 4 fumbles to an alert Steeler defense, 2 of which end Atlanta scoring threats with 2 others setting up Steeler scores. The Steelers jump out to a 14-0 lead after Bradshaw completes an 18-yd TD to Cunningham in the 1st quarter and a 6-yarder to Stallworth in the 2nd. After a 35-yd TD from Bartkowski to Alfred Jackson, Bradshaw comes back to Stallworth for 19 yds and a 21-7 advantage. Bradshaw's lone INT leads to a 43-yd FG in the 3rd to cut the Steeler lead to 21-10. On Pittsburgh's next possession, Bradshaw is sacked and hyperextends his knee. He plays another down and limps off the field in pain as the Steelers punt. On the ensuing drive, Jack Lambert recovers a Wallace Francis fumble and returns it 23 yds to the Atlanta 29. Bradshaw limps back onto the field and promptly throws a 14-yd TD to Grossman (Trout's PAT is blocked). Bartowski strikes right back with a 30-yd TD passto Alfred Jenkins a minute into the 4th quarter and the Falcons trail only 27-17. But midway through the period, Bradshaw audibles to a deep post to Stallworth for a 53-yd gain. Three plays later, he reads a blitz and gets off his 5th and final TD pass of the game, a 22-yarder to Swann, to put the game away. A special thanks to "SteelBuck 6" for providing this sweet video upgrade!
1981 Steelers 32 at Browns 10
Upgrade! Brian Sipe sets a club record on this cold, windy, nasty day by throwing 6 INTs: 3 to Donnie Shell, 2 to Anthony Washington and 1 to Ron Johnson. Greg Hawthorne, Sidney Thornton and Franco Harris provide the Steelers early TDs on short runs and Bradshaw throws short TDs late in the game to a pair of unlikely recipients -- 1-yd to a very excited Ray Pinney on a tackle-eligible play and a 5-yarder to Rick Moser. Kicker David Trout continues the agony of his pitiful rookie season by missing 3 straight extra point attempts. The Browns take an early lead on Matt Bahr's 33-yd FG but they would have had 6 points if not for a Gregg Pruitt drop of a sure TD pass in the end zone. The Steelers then score quick back-to-back TD's as Hawthorne scores from a yard out following a long Pittsburgh drive, Washington intercepts Sipe, and Thornton immediately capitalizes with a 3-yd TD to make it 12-3. Dave Logan snags a 13-yd TD to make it 12-10 at halftime, but the Steelers take their opening drive of the first half the distance, keyed by fake a FG (due to Trout's obvious struggles) and pick up a key first down and set up Harris' 2-yd TD run a few plays later. Trout misses his 3rd straight PAT (this one is blocked) but the rout is on as Sipe suddenly can't stop throwing INTs and the Steelers run up the score in the 4th quarter. A special thanks to Brad Geffers for the sweet upgrade!
1981 Steelers 24 vs Rams 0
Upgrade! A simply brutal butt-kicking. Jack Lambert is seemingly everywhere as the Steelers pound Rams in a Super Bowl rematch at Three Rivers Stadium. "Count Dracula in Cleats" gets up close and personal with Wendell Tyler early in the game and plays like a man possessed for the rest of the afternoon. Wendell never should've poked the bear, because Lambert seeks him out several times for additional punishment. Outstanding performances are also delivered by Franco Harris (18 carries, 114 yds, 1 TD), Mel Blount and Jack Ham. Rams QB Pat Haden gets knocked out of the game early after being intercepted by Ham and the Steel Curtain proceeds to beat backup Dan Pastorini like an ugly stepchild, intercepting him 3 times (2 by Blount) and nailing him for 3 sacks. While the Steelers score 21 points in the first 17 minutes of the game, the Rams manage just 2 first downs in the 1st half, entering Pittsburgh territory only once via a fumble recovery, and their only scoring chance dies when Frank Corral's FG attempt is blocked. Lynn Swann catches a 9-yd TD from Bradshaw early in the 2nd quarter, but ends up hospitalized with a bruised lung after coughing up blood. Bradshaw passes sparingly for 204 yds and the Steelers rush 44 times for 211 yds while holding the Rams to just 174 yds of total offense. A huge thanks to Brad Geffers for generously providing this upgrade!
1981 Steelers 27 at Raiders 30 MNF
With the Steelers leading 7-0 and a chance to extend their lead after a Blount INT early in the 2nd quarter, Bradshaw fractures his right hand (and effectively ends Pittsburgh's playoff hopes) on a Ted Hendricks sack. Backup QB Mark Malone comes in and plays surprisingly well for 2 quarters, but his miscues in the the 4th quarter (2 bad INTs, one in the end zone) along with a collapse by Steelers special teams (another missed PAT by Trout and a Raider punt return for a TD) doom the Steelers.
1981 Steelers 10 vs Bengals 17
The Bengals lead 17-3 and are marching for another score when Jack Lambert intercepts Ken Anderson at the Steeler 17 and returns it to the 30. Mark Malone, despite struggling in his first pro start with Bradshaw's season over due to a broken hand, suddenly comes to life and moves the Steelers 70 yards in 9 plays, completing a 2-yd TD to Harris to narrow the score to 17-10 with 2:52 to play. The Steel Curtain forces a Bengals punt 53 seconds later and Malone coolly moves Pittsburgh to the Bengals 33 in just 3 plays. But the Steelers get no closer as Malone throws 4 straight incompletions and turns it over on downs. A huge thank you to Jay Korber for generously providing us with this game!
1981 Steelers 20 at Oilers 21
A dismal end to a disappointing season. The Bradshaw-less Steelers lose their 3rd straight, blowing a 4th quarter lead on a Dave Casper's 3rd TD catch of the game with 1:51 remaining, then coughing up any chance of a comeback on a Harris fumble at midfield with a minute to play. The Steelers hold Earl Campbell to just 24 yds on 13 carries, but give up 377 yds passing and 3 TDs to Gifford Nielsen. Due to network technical difficulties, coverage breaks away to Bengals/Falcons game for several minutes in the first half. Thanks to Brad Geffers for providing us with this game!