Steelers Rally for Fourth Title
By Paul Attner
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 21, 1980
Calif., Jan. 20 — It took a near-recording passing day from Terry
Bradshaw. It took two sensational catches by John Stallworth and one
by Lynn Swann. It took a last-quarter interception by Jack Lambert.
It took everything the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers could muster today
to finally subdue the stubborn Los Angeles Rams, 31-19, and win an
unprecedented fourth Super Bowl title.
supposed to be a dull, one-sided game, but the 11-point underdog
Rams made it one of the best and most exciting Super Bowls with a
gutty performance, especially from inexperienced quarterback Vince
Ferragamo, who almost outdid the glorious Bradshaw.
was not about to let the Steeler bid for football immortality get
away. He shrugged off three interceptions, a stiff Ram pass rush and
rallied his team to two fourth-period touchdowns before a thrilled
throng of 103,985 in the Rose Bowl. The game's most valuable player
now has a record nine touchdown passes in Super Bowl games, passing
Roger Staubach of Dallas, who has eight.
now can lay claim to being a football dynasty, pointing to four NFL
titles in six years as ample proof of their ability. But the Rams
can walk away just as proudly after producing an effort that
probably would have won most past Super Bowl games.
touchdown passes and his 309 throwing yards — second best in Super
Bowl history — were made possible only by the talents of Stallworth
and Swann, whose knack for producing big plays exposed perhaps the
only weakness in the Ram defense.
who felt he was ignored unjustly by Bradshaw in the first half,
scored what became the winning touchdown by sensationally pulling in
a 73-yard bomb early in the last quarter to erode a 19-17 Ram lead.
somehow leaned back and gathered in a 45-yarder among three Ram
defenders with three minutes left to set up Franco Harris one yard
icing-on-the-cake score — his second of the game — and allow the
Terrible Towels to flutter.
suffered a slight concussion late in the third period, got
Pittsburgh's offense unracked right after halftime with one of his
patented leaping grabs between two Rams. He stumbled at the two
before twirling into the end zone for a 47-yard score.
probably the best one we've ever had," Coach Chuck Noll said,
showing a rare hint of emotion in the Steelers' joyous locker room.
But Noll was
far less happy in the final minutes when the Rams, trailing by
24-19, and knowing their chances of winning were out, drove to the
Pittsburgh 32. That is, when Ferragamo made his only mistake of the
game, a wayward pass that middle linebacker Lambert picked off
before the Steelers struck for their final touchdown.
throw, however, did not detract from Ferragamo's effort. In only his
seventh pro start, he shredded Pittsburgh's proud defense for 212
yards, three times moving the Rams into leads.
pride was hurt by a point-spread that made them 11-point underdogs.
Although they finally lost by 12, they were no pushovers. They
scratched and clawed, pulling out all stops. But they never could
find a way to handle Bradshaw and his brilliant receivers.
served notice early that this was going to be a high-scoring affair,
much like Pittsburgh's scintillating triumph last season over Dallas
in Super Bowl 13.
field goal by Matt Bahr on the Steelers' first possession was offset
immediately by a one-yard touchdown run by Ram Cullen Bryant after
Wendell Tyler had sprinted 39 yards around left end. So much for any
answered with four Bradshaw completions that set up a Harris
one-yard scoring sweep. When Bahr booted the conversion, the
Steelers had a 10-7 lead in the second period.
would not fold. He threw for 16 yards to Lawrence McCutcheon to get
the ball to the Pittsburgh 20. Then Donnie Shell was called for
interference at the Steeler 18. When the Rams stalled, Frank Corral
tied up the game, 10-10, with a 31-yard field goal.
everyone realized the Rams were not kidding. To emphasize that
point, they took advantage of Bradshaw's first interception to set
up a 15-yard Corral field goal and a 13-10 advantage with 11 seconds
to go in the half.
Noll said he
told his players nothing special in the locker room at intermission.
"We just knew
we weren't playing with usual Steeler intensity," Lambert said. "We
had to change that."
did, quickly. On the fifth play of the third quarter, Bradshaw threw
a soaring pass toward Swann, who had barely outrun Pat Thomas down
the sideline before angling to the middle.
blitzing and were in man-to-man coverage," Bradshaw said. "I
audibilized at the line and let it go." Just a safety, Nolan
Cromwell came over to help Thomas by attempting to bat away the
ball. Swann started his jump. He went higher and higher, finally
pulling in the ball while at least three feet above the ground. He
came down, kept his balance and danced in for the 47-yard score.
stunning blow, one that had become a Steeler trademark the last two
seasons, would finally brush off the pesky Rams.
It did not.
Ferragamo took a page from Bradshaw's go-for-broke book. He found
Billy Waddy 46 yards down the field and Waddy turned the pass into
an eye-catching reception by pulling the ball away from Pittsburgh's
Ron Johnson at the Steeler 24.
foes could recover, the Rams struck again. Lawrence McCutcheon began
a sweep around right end, then pulled up and passed to Ron Smith,
who got behind J.T. Thomas. Smith pulled in the accurate toss and
moved into the end zone for the score.
missed the conversion, the Rams held a 19-17 lead with 4:45 gone in
the quarter. Those fans who had hooed their team so vigorously
during the regular season, who had thought the club had no chance of
making it this far, now were beside themselves with joy.
Angeles couldn't capitalize on two more interceptions of Bradshaw.
The Rams had the Steelers on the edge, but they could not apply the
On a third
down from his 27, Bradshaw dropped back and looked for Stallworth,
who was running a hook-and-go pattern. He was being covered by Rod
Perry, a talented cornerback who had been sidelined much of the
season with a bad calf.
for the ball at the Ram 35 but missed with a swipe of his arm.
Stallworth gathered in the pass without missing a stride and
scampered untouched for his Super Bowl record third touchdown
reception while Perry lay on the turf. The Steelers now led, 24-19,
with 12:04 left in the game.
The Rams had
come too far now to stop. They mounted one last scoring threat,
again with Ferragamo providing the impetus.
completion to Preston Dennard and a 15-yarder to Waddy had Los
Angeles at the Steeler 32. The L.A. offensive line, which was having
trouble with the Steeler blitz, was providing excellent protection
and the Ram receivers were getting open. And the Steelers seemed
Lambert. Ferragamo wanted to pass to Smith on a cut-in pattern.
Lambert was playing a deep zone and Ferragamo never saw him as he
caught the pass at the 25. "He made a good play and I probably made
a bad decision," Ferragamo said.
could sense victory. Bradshaw again called a hook-and-go pattern to
Stallworth, "but I was sure they wouldn't be in the same defense.
When I came up to the line, doggone if they weren't."
between Perry and Dave Elmendorf while Bradshaw let go the pass. As
it came to Stallworth, Cromwell came over to help. All three Rams
were thwarted as Stallworth reached back and cradled the ball
against his chest for a 45-yard gain to the L.A. 22.
Stallworth's third reception, for 121 yards. It became Bradshaw's
final completion, giving him a 14-for-21 production. His 309 passing
yards were second only to his 313 of Super Bowl 13.
later, Thomas was called for interfering with Jim Smith in the end
zone. On the third try from the one, Harris bolted over, Bahr kicked
the conversion and the Steelers had another title.
1980 The Washington Post Company
Super Bowl XIV MVP: Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh to its second consecutive Super Bowl title, Terry
Bradshaw became the first repeat most valuable player since Green
Bay's Bart Starr in Super Bowls I and II. In a 31-19 victory over
the Rams, Bradshaw threw for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns, completing
14-of-21 passes. His totals in this game made him the Super Bowl
career leader in touchdown passes with 9 and passing yards with
Super Bowl 932. Bradshaw twice rallied Pittsburgh from behind,
including a 13-10 deficit at the half. Early in the third quarter,
Bradshaw hit Lynn Swann with a 47-yard touchdown pass to retake the
lead. After Los Angeles scored a touchdown, Bradshaw teamed with
John Stallworth on a 73-yard score to take back the lead for good.
(It was the second consecutive Super Bowl in which the
Bradshaw-Stallworth connection had combined for a long-bomb score;
in Super Bowl XIII, they teamed for a 75-yard touchdown.) On the
drive toward a clinching touchdown run by Franco Harris, Bradshaw
hit Stallworth with a key 45-yard completion. Bradshaw's exploits
helped the Steelers become the first team to win four Super Bowls.
Super Bowl XIV Memory
Super Bowl XIV
was the fourth in six seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the
feeling was different this time. "We had a great thing going,"
Pittsburgh Terry Bradshaw says, "but I think we were all smart
enough to realize this wasn't going to last forever." There was a
sense of urgency when the Steelers entered the fourth quarter
trailing the underdog Los Angeles Rams 19-17 at the Rose Bowl.
Pittsburgh regained the lead with one big play. On third-and-8 from
the Steelers' 27-yard line, Bradshaw ran a play called
60-Prevent-Slot-Hook-and-Go. "I really didn't think it would work,"
he says. "I really didn't think I completed once all week in
practice." This time it did. John Stallworth took off deep over the
middle, Bradshaw's pass just eluded cornerback Rod Perry's
outstretched arms, and Stallworth gathered it in to complete a
73-yard touchdown. The Steelers went on to win 31-19.
Super Bowl XIV Performances
surprise of a nation of NFL fans who had become accustomed to seeing
the Steelers win Super Bowls, the Los Angeles Rams owned a 19-17
lead with barely 12 minutes left to play, and the Steelers were
penned in at their own 27-yard line. On third-down-and-8, Stallworth
made a sprinting catch beyond the outstretched arms of cornerback
Rod Perry that turned a 41-yard pass into a 73-yard touchdown,
putting the Steelers ahead to stay. Stallworth, who described his
performance in Pittsburgh's 31-17 triumph as "the culmination of my
career," finished with only 3 catches - but for an unforgettable 121