Golden Football Magazine
NFL Championship Games
Super Bowl X - Pittsburgh Steelers vs Dallas Cowboys: First Half
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Part 1 - Pregame | Part 3 - 2nd Half
Quarter 1

The Dallas staff thought they could take advantage of the Steelers' weak link - their special teams. So the "tricky" Cowboys lived up to their billing on the first play, which had been concocted by special teams coach Mike Ditka. Roy Gerela kicked off to Preston Pearson. The former Steeler took the ball at the 3 and started to run upfield. At the 10, he handed to Hollywood Henderson, who had sprinted back from the 30. The speedy LB raced across the field and up the left side untouched until Gerela knocked him out of bounds on the Pitt 44. Gerela suffered a broken rib making the tackle, and the constant pain hampered his kicking all afternoon.
Landry: We were thinking the Steelers might be really pumped up and going after their former teammate (Preston Pearson).
: Someone told me this: Landry didn't want me handling the ball. He liked the results, but he was always nervous about a LB handling the ball. ... Let me tell you about how I was feeling before that game. You're talking about a guy who was nine years from witnessing his mother shooting his stepfather with a gun, just six years from his best friend getting shot at close range and dying, just a year out of Langston University. I had played that season in the NFL and had run for a touchdown. But to be in the Super Bowl ... I'd already wrapped up. I got elbow pads on, and all this extra padding, hand pads, got pads everywhere, because I'm going to be kicking butt on these special teams. And Ditka came over to me after we warmed up and came back in and he said, "If we win the toss, we're going with the reverse." And of course, I had to take all that shit off. I had to put stickum on. It scared me to death! It was like, "Geez, you're going to let me handle the fucking ball the first fucking play of the Super Bowl?" ... This was the first stagefright I ever had. ... But, on the other hand, ... 'cause I was a running back in high school, in my early days, I knew how to run. ... The only Steeler who could have stopped me was the kicker ... and I was going to see if Gerela could stop me. I was going to see if I could run over him. ... I caught my knee on his ribs.
Hollywood didn't run over him, but his collision with the kicker influenced the course of the game.
Deploying a shift, then a man in motion to confuse the defense, Roger Staubach took the snap and rolled right. But nobody blocked LDE L.C. Greenwood, who grabbed Roger the Dodger at the Dallas 46, causing a fumble that C John Fitzgerald picked up and carried to the Pitt 49. On 2nd-and-15, Newhouse gained 2y up the middle. On 3rd-and-long Jim Allen replaced MLB Jack Lambert as a fifth DB. From the shotgun, Staubach overthrew Preston Pearson. Mitch Hoopes' punt into the wind was returned 10y by Glen Edwards to the 17.
QB Terry Bradshaw called for five straight runs. Franco Harris sped around LE for 8y. Then Rocky Bleier burst up the middle for another 8. Harris gained 5, then 4. But on 3rd-and-1, CB Mark Washington closed strong and dumped Franco for a loss of 2 as he tried to skirt RE. Bobby Walden came in to punt but dropped the snap and was smothered at the 29.
Dallas immediately capitalized on the break. Staubach faked a handoff to Newhouse to the right behind a pulling G, then fired down the middle to Drew Pearson running free across the middle from the right against the movement of the defense. He continued into the end zone untouched. Toni Fritsch, "the bald Austrian import," added the extra point. Dallas 7 Pittsburgh 0 (10:24)
Amazingly, it was the first Q1 TD scored against Pittsburgh all season.
: I had butterflies all day. I took my eyes off the ball for a second. The snap was good, and it hit me right in the hands. I just flat missed it. When I got to the bench, they just said forget about it so I forgot about it.
Drew Pearson
: Roger Staubach faked the handoff, and I ran what we called a "spurt" route; you take it upfield and kind of spurt across the field. Golden Richards ran a great post route to clear it out. When I came across, I was wide open and Roger hit me in stride for a 29-yard touchdown. We were leading. We were excited. And we thought: We've got a chance to beat these Steelers. ... We knew we were the team of destiny, but that the Pittsburgh Steelers were the better team. ... (The TD) gave us a lot of confidence and also let the Steelers know that we were ready to play.
S Mike Wagner took the blame for the best coverage, saying that he didn't hear a checkoff. To (Defensive coordinator) Bud Carson's credit, this was a play that we saw them run three or four times during the season, and they always ran it the same way. It was a series of shifts and motions out of a certain formation. So if you saw it and you could follow all the shifts and adjustments, you knew every times they were going to throw the ball to Drew Pearson over the weak side. ... The first time they ran it, Drew Pearson scored a TD and it was my fault because we were trying to get to that coverage, and I didn't hear any checkoff.
On the sideline, Bradshaw, always the pessimist, thought, We're going to lose.
The Steelers were adjusting to seeing the Dallas offense "live." LB Andy Russell recalled that his unit wasn't as concerned about the shotgun formation as they were about where the Cowboys stationed their players. They used a lot of motion, so you had to figure out where those people were going. They tried to flood zones with receivers, which cuased ou to change from defense X to defense Y, and pretty soon the ball is snapped. If you were in the wrong formation at that point, you could be in trouble.
Lambert was disgusted with the way his unit had played. He yelled on the sidelines, We're getting it taken to us. We're supposed to be the tough guys. We'd better damn well start playing like it.

Cowboys celebrate Drew Pearson's TD.

Terry Bradshaw hands to Franco Harris.
Mel Blount returned Fritsch's kickoff 27y to the 33. The Steelers stayed on the ground with four more runs. Harris found a hole at RT to the 40. Following a 2y gain by Bleier, Franco took it again for 5 and a 1st down at the 47. Then it was Bleier's turn to go wide, through a hole at LT 2y into Dallas territory.
Bleier: The pattern at the beginning was that Franco would run one way and on the next play I'd run the same way. It wasn't something we had planned before the game. Bradshaw just didn't see the need to mix it up.
Bradshaw threw his first pass, and what a completion it was. The high-arcing ball looked like it was sailing out of bounds. But Lynn Swann removed any doubts about how he would play as he ran down the right sideline and made a leaping acrobatic catch over CB Washington and somehow kept both feet in bounds before being tackled by - of all people - S Cliff Harris for a 32y gain to the 16.
Bradshaw: At first it looked like a terrible play. The Dallas guy's all over Swannie. He's got him covered perfect. No way we're gonna complete that ball.
had taken ballet lessons as a boy. When I was in grammar school, I felt more comfortable on the dance floor than the football field. Through his senior year of high school, he studied ballet, modern dance, and tap.
He recalled: When we took the field at the Orange Bowl in Miami, I was questioning my own ability. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to perform, because of that brutal week of practice.
Lynn said to himself, I have to catch the first pass that's thrown to me, no matter what the pattern or where it's thrown. ... What really helped me get into the game was a catch I made in the first quarter. Terry had called a play where I would go 10 or 15 yards and turn out,, and when we lined up, the Cowboys covered me with Washington. I looked and saw the Cowboys were threatening to blitz; their LBs were creeping up toward the line of scrimmage. This wasn't the best play to run under those circumstances. I was almost expecting Terry to audible, but he stuck with the play. ... That catch seemed to boost me. I never had a day in my life when I felt so loose.
LBs Russell and Ham got a closeup view of the catch on the Steeler sideline. Jack: Andy and I were kneeling down, and when Bradshaw threw that pass, it looked like he was just throwing it away. Everything except Lynn's two feet were out of bounds, and he twisted to bring it back in. Andy and I just looked at each other as if to say, "How did he do that?"
S Mike Wagner on Swann: He was tough as nails.
G Gerry Mullins recalled: Lynn's a great competitor and there was no concussion protocol back in the day. He just sucked it up and went out and played a super game.

Bradshaw hands to Bleier.
Three plays later, the Steelers tied the game. Bleier got 5 at LT and Harris 4 over the right side. With Pittsburgh deploying a heavy three-TE package on 3rd-and-1 (G Gerry Mullins the extra TE), the Cowboys expected a run. But Bradshaw crossed them up by rolling out to the right and throwing on the run to TE Randy Grossman, who had faked a block and angled diagonally to the right in the EZ. Gerela wobbly kick made it through the uprights. Dallas 7 Pittsburgh 7 (5:57)
If the insecure Bradshaw expected a handshake or some words of congratulations from his head coach, he was disappointed. Noll simply nodded in his direction as Brad came to the sideline.
Little did anyone know that it would be 40 minutes of playing time before the Steelers scored again.
Dallas got another good runback, Preston Pearson keeping it this time for 24y to the 35. FB Robert Newhouse swung around the left side for 8 before Doug Dennison ran through a big hole at RT to the 43 for a 1st down. Staubach hit TE Jean Fugett who had his feet taken out from under him by Edwards just after he caught the ball at the Pitt 43. Then Newhouse took a quick inside handoff for 16y. Staubach called the same play for another 5. The top man in the I formation, Dennison, gained 4 at LT. Facing 3rd-and-1, the Cowboys went to a two TE formation. Ernie Holmes stopped Newhouse just inches short a 1st down.

Holmes stuffs Newhouse for no gain.
Landry kept the offense on the field. Dennison went over LT behind Blaine Nye and Rayfield Wright for 3y to move the chains to the 15. Then MLB Lambert decided enough was enough and dropped Preston Pearson for no gain. Jack Ham closed the hole and stopped Newhouse for a gain of just 1.
END Q1: Dallas 7 Pittsburgh 7

Quarter 2

The Cowboys had a false start that made their task harder - 3rd-and-14. From the shotgun, Staubach threw toward Fugett, but Edwards broke in front of the TE and almost intercepted it. So Fritsch booted a 36y FG. Cowboys 10 Steelers 7 (14:45)

Lambert stares down Staubach.
Mel Blount took the kickoff on the bounce at the 13 and returned 19y. For the first time, Bradshaw passed on 1st down but, hit by LE Too Tall Jones just as he let the ball go, overthrew John Stallworth. Bleier gained 6 on a crossbuck at LG. Terry then went back to pass but, seeing an open lane, ran up the middle, then angled left to avoid MLB Lee Roy Jordan for the first down at the 45. Franco then wiggled through LT for his best gain so far - 11y.

Harris breaks loose for 11y.
A flanker screen to Stallworth in the left flat resulted in a 5y loss. Next came a controversial play. LE Stallworth ran a button hook and caught the ball at the Dallas 49. Harris hit him immediately and drove him back. The ball came loose, but the officials ruled no fumble as forward motion had been stopped. On 3rd-and-2, Harris went nowhere on a crossbuck. Like the Cowboys earlier, the Steelers went for it. Bradshaw saw Franco Harris running free down the right side and threw to him. But Cliff Harris arrived a split second after the ball. Incomplete. Cowboys take over on their 36. The Steel Curtain, getting used to the Cowboys' shifting and motion, got a three-and-out. Newhouse for 3, Staubach 6y pass to Dennison, then an overthrow of Newhouse. Mitch Hoopes punted 37y to Dave Brown, who returned 6y to the 23.

Jack Ham tackles Doug Dennison after 6y pass completion.
The Cowboys returned the favor, three-and-out. Bleier ran for 2 at RT before LB D. D. Lewis broke up a pass to Stallworth. Then forced out of the pocket by Harvey Martin, Bradshaw was tripped up by Randy White for a loss of 2. Walden punted high into the wind for only 32y, Golden Richards making a fair catch.
Staubach faded back deep and connected with Preston Pearson to the Steeler 43. With a foot to go, Roger tried to hand off to Dennison, but the ball dropped to the artificial turf. But the former Navy star recovered for no gain. Captain Comeback then took a quick drop and hit Preston Pearson just inside the left sideline for a 1st down at the 36. After 2y Newhouse run and an incompletion to Preston Pearson behind the line of scrimmage, it was 3rd-and-8.

Staubach passes before Ernie Holmes gets to him.
So Allen replaced Lambert in the Pitt secondary. Staubach's elusiveness then moved the chains. He dropped deep but, finding his no one open, ran forward a few steps to avoid the rush, looked left, then right and threw to a new receiver, RB Charley Young, for 14y to the 20. In FG range to increase the lead to 13-7, Dallas went backward. First down: Newhouse nailed by Andy Russell for a 3y loss. Second down: DLE L. C. Greenwood, working the loop ploy with DLT Joe Greene, sacked Staubach for a loss of 12. Third down: Staubach looked and looked until Dwight White pulled him down by the shirt for a 10y setback. So on 4th-and-35, Hoopes punted out of bounds at the 6.

White sacks Staubach.
The Cowboys did an excellent job on Greene, who didn't record a tackle in the first half and sat out the second half because of a pulled groin muscle.
Bleier ran wide but gained only 2. Then Harris went the opposite way for another 2. Next came the play that is still shown in Super Bowl highlights over 40 years later. Bradshaw dropped back to the goal line and threw for Swann on a fly pattern down the right hashmarks. Lynn jumped over Washington, who tipped the ball into the air as he fell to the ground. The WR caught it lying on his back on the Dallas 44 several yards beyond the prone CB, then got up and gained 7 more for a total of 53 to the Dallas 37 before Mark brought him down.
Swann years later: I still don't know how I caught it. I don't know how I kept my concentration on the ball while I was going down. After that, I started feeling my confidence return ...

Mike Ditka 1975

Hollywood Henderson with opening kickoff

Staubach hands to Newhouse

Mitch Hoopes

John Fitzgerald

Jack Lambert

Drew Pearson headed to EZ.

Toni Fritsch PAT

Bradshaw Back to Pass

Lynn Swann makes acrobatic Q1 catch over Mark Washington.

Randy Grossman TD

Ernie Holmes hits Staubach.

Lambert tackles Preston Pearson near end of Q1.

Franco Harris on the loose Q2.

Cliff Harris tackles John Stallworth after 13y completion.

Steve Furness tackles Robert Newhouse in Q2.

Staubach passes before Greenwood arrives.

L.C. Greenwood sacks Staubach.

Swann heads downfield.

Swann makes great catch over Washington.

Swann catches pass over Washington.
Watch video of the catch.
Not giving Swanny time to rest but doing the same to Washington, Bradshaw went to Lynn again who sped past the beleaguered CB toward the center of the field. However, the pass fell in front of the diving Swann at the 6. Play stopped for the two-minute warning.
Swann years later: Once, Harris came over to me after an earlier play and told me I was lucky because he'd just missed me with a hard shot. He said he was going to get me if I came across the middle.
Bleier found running room over the right side to the 30. On 3rd-and-2, TE Randy Grossman and G Jim Clack came in. Franco gained 3 at RT for a 1st down. After a Pittsburgh timeout, Bradshaw did a great Staubach imitation, scrambling right, then left, before throwing to Larry Brown for 7y. Martin stuffed Bleier for no gain at RT. Timeout Steelers. One left. Bradshaw faded deep and threw all the way to the 3 to Stallworth, but veteran DB Ray Renfro broke it up. So Gerela, his ribs aching, came on for a 36y FG attempt against a gusting wind. Dallas used a timeout when a sub was late getting off the field. Whether that had the effect of "icing" the kicker we don't know, but the boot went wide left.
Dallas ran off the final 22 seconds with a 5y run by Newhouse.
The Cowboys led despite being outgained 194-98.
END Q2: Dallas 10 Pittsburgh 7
Up with People took the field again for the halftime show, which continued the bicentennial theme of "200 Years and Just a Baby."

Roy Gerelda and Bobby Walden watch his FG try sail wide.