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Super Bowl XIV: Steelers vs. Rams
1979 Steelers Season
- Regular season record: 12–4
- Divisional playoff: Steelers 34, Dolphins 14
- AFC championship: Steelers 27, Oilers 13
- Super Bowl: Steelers 31, Rams 19
The 1979 Rams
The Rams of the 1970s were somewhat of a low-key powerhouse. They are seldom mentioned in “team of the decade” discussions, even though they won their division every year from 1973 to ’79 and went to the NFC championship game in five of those seasons. Only the dominance of the Cowboys and Vikings kept them from reaching the big game more often.
But reach the big game they did in 1979. After finishing 9–7 in the regular season, they defeated the Cowboys and the Buccaneers in the playoffs and earned the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Rams starting quarterback Pat Haden led the team to a 5–5 record before breaking his finger. Backup Vince Ferragamo stepped in and posted a 4–1 record, good enough to get Los Angeles into the playoffs. On the ground, the Rams relied on halfback Wendell Tyler and fullback Cullen Bryant. But it was the Rams’ defense that presented the most challenge for the Steelers, with All-Pros Jack Youngblood and Larry Brooks, plus linebacker Jim Youngblood and safety Nolan Cromwell.
Super Bowl XIV
The Steelers were in their prime in 1979. Though the team had struggled with injuries during the regular season, by the time the Super Bowl kicked off, all hands were on deck. Bradshaw had thrown for an incredible 3,724 yards during the regular season. Harris had rushed for 1,186 yards and 11 touchdowns. Receiver John Stallworth had hauled in 70 catches for over 1,100 yards and made his first All-Pro team. A veteran defense, packed with future Steelers Hall of Famers, stood ready to demolish an underdog Rams offense.
Most football pundits and oddsmakers agreed: By the time halftime came around, the Steelers were thought to be shoo-ins for their fourth Super Bowl ring. But things didn’t go quite as planned. Like a slingshot blow to Goliath’s head, the Rams scored the first touchdown of the game after holding the mighty Steelers to a field goal on their first possession. Pittsburgh countered with a Franco Harris touchdown dive in the second quarter. The Rams put together a field-goal drive, forced a Steelers punt, and then plodded down the field for one more field goal. At halftime, the Rams led the Steelers 13–10.
Bradshaw connected with Swann on a 47-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to put Pittsburgh ahead. Undaunted, the Rams pulled a trick out of their helmets on the next possession when halfback Lawrence McCutcheon threw to wide receiver Ron Smith for a touchdown. Frank Corral missed the extra point, and the third quarter ended with the score 19–17, Rams.
One could only imagine the discussions on the Pittsburgh sidelines as the fourth quarter began. Whatever was said, the Steelers responded. Bradshaw connected with Stallworth on a 73-yard scoring pass. Later in the quarter, linebacker Jack Lambert intercepted Ferragamo as Los Angeles moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory. The Steelers closed out the game by plowing over an exhausted Rams defense with running backs Harris, Rocky Bleier, and Sydney Thornton. Harris plunged into the end zone for the final score of the game with 1:49 left on the clock.
Though the Rams had proven that they were worthy opponents, the Steelers had won their fourth Super Bowl in six years with a final score of 31–19.
MVP and Notable Performers
- QB Terry Bradshaw took home his second-straight Super Bowl MVP award, this time by passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
- Receiver John Stallworth caught three passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
- Wide receiver Lynn Swann caught five passes for 79 yards and one score.