Best Super Bowls of all-time – #10 – Super Bowl XIII – Dallas Cowboys vrs. Pittsburgh Steelers

There are two weeks until Super Bowl XLVI.  To pass the time between now and then I will unveil the top 10 Super Bowls of all-time every weekday until the Friday before the big game.  #10 is the Super Bowl played after the 1978 season, between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the defending champion Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl XXI – Dallas Cowboys vrs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Sunday, January 29, 1979, broadcasted on NBC, announced by Curt Gowdy, Merlin Olsen, and John Brodie

Bradshaw connected with John Stallworth for a 1st quarter TD

This was a match-up of the two best defenses in the league during the regular season.  The Cowboys went down the field early on their first drive thanks to some great running by running back Tony Dorsett but when they tried to get too cute and ran a reverse pass play receiver Drew Pearson fumbled the ball to the Steelers.  7 plays later Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw connected with receiver John Stallworth totake advantage of the turnover and give the Steelers a 7-0.  The Cowboys moved down the field again, advancing to the Pittsburgh 39 yard line but quarterback Roger Staubach took 2 sacks for a net loss of 20 yards to push the Cowboys back to their side of the field.  Terry Bradshaw quickly moved the Steelers down the field after the punt but he threw a pick to Cowboys linebacker D.D. Lewis deep in Dallas territory.  The Cowboys gave the ball right back to the Steelers.  By now the Steelers front 7 were dominating the Cowboys and Staubach.  The Cowboys defense stepped up and made a play of their own on the Steelers next drive when defensive lineman Harvey Martin stripped sacked Terry Bradshaw and Ed “Too Tall” Jones recovered the fumble.  Three plays later Staubach stood in the face of an 8-man blitz to connect with receiver Tony Hill on a 39 yard TD pass as time expired in the 1st quarter.  It was the only touchdown that the Steelers defense allowed all season long in the first quarter.  It was 7-7 after the 1st.

Stallworth broke a tackle and then went untouched for the 75 yard TD catch

Bradshaw moved the ball again for the Steelers, this time advancing it near midfield.  Once again, however, the Dallas pass rush made a play when Bradshaw fumbled in the backfield after colliding with running back Franco Harris.  Bradshaw picked up the ball and tried to run with it but Cowboys linebackers Thomas Henderson grabbed him and fellow linebacker Mike Wegman ripped the ball out of his hands and took it all the way to the end zone for a Cowboys touchdown.  The Cowboys had their first lead of the game at 14-7.  It didn’t take long for the Steelers to catch up.  On the 3rd play of the next drive Bradshaw hit Stallworth on a simple ten yard pass route but after breaking free of the first defender there was no one left on his side of the field to tackle him.  Stallworth ran with it for the next 65 yards into the end zone untouched to tie the game at 14-14.  The steel curtain began to bear down and on the next drive and forced a three-and-out with all of Dallas’ plays being for negative yardage, including a 3rd down sack my Mean Joe Greene.  The Steelers couldn’t take advantage of the good field position after the punt.  After Hegman sacked Bradshaw to push the ball back to the Dallas 34 yard line Steelers kicker Roy Gerela missed the 51 yard field goal try, hitting the crossbar.  Staubach then took the Cowboys all the way down to the Steelers’ 32 yard line but cornerback Mel Blount intercepted a Staubach pass and ran it back to their own 29 with a personal foul penalty, setting them up at their own 44 yard line with about a minute left to go in the half.  Bradshaw moved quickly down the field, hitting receiver Lynn Swann with completions of 29 and 21 yards.  Three plays later Bradshaw hit Steelers fullback Rocky Bleier with a 7 yard TD pass to give the Steelers a 21-14 halftime lead.

Jacke Smith fell flat in his back, both literally and figuratively, after he dropped a sure TD in the 3rd

It was a surprising 1st half as both teams were notorious for their stiff defense yet there was already 35 points on the scoreboard.  Both teams made halftime adjustments and the offensive pace slowed considerably in the third quarter.  Both teams traded punts for the better portion of the 3rd.  Dallas finally made a play when punt returner Butch Johnson returned a short Pittsburgh punt 12 yards to their own 42 yard line.  The Cowboys then gave the Steelers a heavy dose of Tony Dorsett and moved the ball all the way down to the Pittsburgh 10 yard line.  It was 3rd down.  Staubach dropped back to throw and found his tight end Jackie Smith wide open in the end zone.  Staubach threw him the ball but Smith could not hang on.  He dropped an easy touchdown and it was a play that would come back to haunt the Cowboys.  Kicker Rafael Septien then hit a 27 yard field goal to make the score 21-17.

Franco Harris celebrated the Steelers 3rd Super Bowl win

The Steelers took the ball at the beginning of the 4th quarter and their offense began to show signs of life again.  After a ticky tack pass interference penalty called on Dallas defensive back Benny Barnes the Steelers were set up at the Dallas 23 yard line.  Two plays later (and after Henderson thought he had a 3rd down sack on Bradshaw but the Steelers were flagged for delay of game before the snap) Franco Harris took a hand-off and ran it straight up the middle for a 22 yard TD run to give the Steelers a 28-17 lead.  A mistake by Pittsburgh actually helped them out on the ensuing kickoff.  Gerela slipped when he made the kick and he squibbed it down the field to Cowboys lineman Randy White, who had a big cast on his left hand.  He fumbled to ball when Steelers safety Tony Dungy hit him and the Steelers recovered.  On the very next play Bradshaw hit Swann with a 18 yard TD pass to give the Steelers a big 35-17 lead with a little more than 7 minutes left on the clock.  The Cowboys started their next drive at their own 11 yard line.  Staubach rallied the troops and drove the Cowboys down the field on 8 plays.  He made a big 18 yard scramble on 3rd and 11 and capped off the drive with a 7 yard TD pass to tight end Billy Joe Dupree to pull the Cowboys within 11 at 35-24.  Cowboys linebacker Dennis Thurman recovered the ensuing onside kick to give the ball back to Staubach and the Dallas offense.  The Cowboys took it 52 yards on 9 plays, including a 25 yard 4th-and-18 pass from Staubach to Drew Pearson, and scored on a 4 yard TD pass from Staubach to Butch Johnson to make the score 35-31.  There was only :22 left in the game however and the Cowboys would have to recover another onside kick and score quickly.  Rocky Bleier fell on the onside kick and the Steelers were able to sit on the ball and secure their 3rd ever Super Bowl victory.

Final Score:  Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

Jackie Smith had a Hall of Fame career in the NFL but unfortunately he has been forever known as the guy who dropped the sure touchdown pass from Staubach in the 3rd quarter.  If he had caught the ball the Cowboys might have tied the game a 35-35 with 22 seconds left but they had to settle for a field goal back in the 3rd after the drop and the deficit proved to be just a little too much for them to overcome at the end.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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