View Full Version : THE GREATEST GAME

10-21-2006, 10:16 AM
Found this article and LOVED it..thought I would share. (Anyone know John Maddens e-mail address..I would love to send this to him and make him slobber all over himself trying to justify how they were obviously robbed)

December 29, 1974; AFC Title game at Oakland.

Many folks might select a 13-7 divisional playoff win over the Oakland Raiders in 1972, i.e. the "Immaculate Reception" game as the greatest game in Steeler history. But it is another contest that most Steeler players with four rings credit as the pivotal game in their fortunes--the AFC championship game against these same Raiders two years later.

Why this game you ask? It was a defining moment for the team of the seventies. A championship contest played on a rival's field that tested the Steelers resolve. Once a championship team believes it's the best, they can win anywhere. But prior to this game, even the Steeler players might have had doubt that they were the best.

Here's the background scenario prior to that game. The Steelers had been knocking on the Super Bowl door for two years without getting there. In 1972, a week after the Immaculate Reception game, they were knocked out of the playoffs by the Miami Dolphins in the AFC title game.

They followed their first division title in 1972 by regressing to a wild card team in 1973, and then getting whacked by the Raiders, 33-14 in the first round of the playoffs. The 1973 team was the subject of a best selling book by Roy Blount, "Three Bricks Shy of a Load." The title refers to the fact that the Steelers had not yet arrived as a legitimate NFL powerhouse. Their 1974 draft brings plenty of solid bricks: WR Lynn Swann, LB Jack Lambert, C Mike Webster, and WR John Stallworth, four future Hall of Famers. Safety Donnie Shell and TE Randy Grossman also come on board.

But while they are one of the better teams in the league, they hardly resemble the dynasty they would become. For most of the year, they are unsettled at quarterback. It's a round robin between Terry Bradshaw, Terry Hanratty, and Joe Gilliam. After Gilliam starts the first few games of 1974, Noll puts Bradshaw in for a few games, then starts Hanratty, then finally settles on Bradshaw for the final games of the season. The Stillers clinch the AFC Central with a 10-3-1 mark.

They have the third best record in the AFC, and most critics regard them that way... behind the 12-2 Raiders and 11-3 Dolphins. The Raiders and Dolphins are led by established signal callers Ken Stabler and Bob Griese respectively.

Bradshaw is viewed as a great "might have been," certainly not a Super Bowl caliber signal caller. 1974 is his fifth year in the pros and his numbers, even for the run happy mid-seventies are modest. He only plays in eight games, throwing for seven TDs and 785 yards.

However the Steeler defense is number one in the NFL and their running game with Franco and Rocky Bleier is second.

In their first game in the divisional playoffs against the Buffalo Bills, they shut down the best running back in the NFL, holding O.J. Simpson to 49 yards. But it is the offense, inconsistent most of the year that steps up with a 32-point barrage, led by Bradshaw's season high 203 passing yards.

On the day before, the Raiders defeat the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Dolphins at Oakland, 26-24 in one of the most exciting NFL playoff games in history. Since the AFC is the superior conference (five of the last six Super Bowl wins), the contest is perceived by many as the "real Super Bowl."

After the game, Raider coach John Madden states that "whenever you have the two best teams, great things are going to happen." Most Steeler players pay little attention to the quote. Perhaps maybe even they felt the same way.

But not Chuck Noll. The usual stoic Noll calls his team together on the Tuesday before the title game and tells them, "you think they (the Raiders) won the damn Super Bowl. Let me tell you something. The best team in pro football is sitting right here in this room." His out of character speech fires up the players like none before or after.

How confident are the Steelers before the Raider game? A reporter sees L.C. Greenwood peeking a glance at a TV in the tunnel prior to the championship tilt. He asks Greenwood what he's watching. (It's the NFC title game). Greenwood's response "which team we're going to play in the Super Bowl."

The Raiders are the highest scoring team in the NFL in 1974. But at Oakland, the Steelers intercept Raider QB Ken Stabler three times, and hold the number three rushing team in the NFL to a meager 1.4 yards per carry and a total of 29 yards. Oakland averaged 167 rushing yards during the season. The Stillers rush for over 200 as Franco Harris finishes with 111 and Rocky Bleier 98. The Steelers triumph, 24-13 and capture their first AFC championship.

The Steelers shut down the Vikings in the Super Bowl for their first league title, 16-6. But it's the prior game that puts them over the hump and establishes their swagger.

Starting in 1974, they go 13-2 (.867) in the playoffs over a six-year period. No NFL team has won that many playoff games in that short a period.

The Immaculate Reception contest and some of the Super Bowls may be more famous. But no game was more important to the Steeler franchise and its dynasty than this one.

10-21-2006, 10:38 AM
Hell yeah!!! Great read man!

10-21-2006, 11:49 AM
game ball hopefully was given to franco

Atlanta Dan
10-21-2006, 12:14 PM
On the Steelers History DVD Andy Russell says that was the greatest game the Steelers ever played.

24-13 was a deceptive score. Franco scored the final TD after JT Thomas intercepted Stabler with less than 2 minutes to go. Raiders actually led 10-3 going into the 4th Q before Harris scored 2 TDs and Swann made a sweet catch in the back of the end zone for the third TD.

Found this online game summary

December 29, 1974

AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Oakland Raiders 13
Quarter 1 2 3 4 Tot
Steelers 0 3 0 21 24
Raiders 3 0 7 3 13
at Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California

After trailing 10-3 at the end of the third quarter, the Steelers scored three touchdowns in the final period. The first half was controlled by both defenses, leading to a 3-3 score at halftime. However, the Raiders took the lead in the third quarter with Ken Stabler's 38-yard touchdown pass Cliff Branch. But Pittsburgh tied the game again six seconds into the fourth quarter with Franco Harris' 6-yard touchdown reception from Terry Bradshaw. Then linebacker Jack Ham intercepted a pass, and Bradshaw threw a 6-yard touchdown to Lynn Swann. Faced with third down at the Pittsburgh 12-yard line, Stabler was forced to throw an incomplete pass, and the Raiders had to settle for a field goal to cut the Steelers' lead, 17-13. But Harris then scored on a 21-yard rushing touchdown to put the game away.

OAK - FG Blanda 40
PIT - FG Gerela 23
OAK - Branch 38 pass from Stabler (Blanda kick)
PIT - Harris 8 run (Gerela kick)
PIT - Swann 6 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick)
OAK - FG Blanda 24
PIT - Harris 21 run (Gerela kick)

10-21-2006, 04:37 PM
Someone should send this Madden. Maybe it will jar his memory of how football use to be played and he'll change the gibberish he spews forth on Sundays!

10-21-2006, 04:49 PM
Most of us consider the Steelers of the 70's to be the greatest team of all time (and rightfully so), but I believe that the Raiders teams of the same era to be the 2nd best team of all time. If not for the Steelers, the Raiders would have 7 SB wins instead of 3. LOL no wonder they hated us so much!

Atlanta Dan
10-21-2006, 06:35 PM
Most of us consider the Steelers of the 70's to be the greatest team of all time (and rightfully so), but I believe that the Raiders teams of the same era to be the 2nd best team of all time. If not for the Steelers, the Raiders would have 7 SB wins instead of 3. LOL no wonder they hated us so much!

Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time - the Raiders also lost to the 1973 Dolphins team that won it all the year after the undefeated season (and in Shula's opinion were the better of the 2 Dolphins champ teams). In terms of three loaded teams in the same era, it is hard to beat the combo of the early 1970s Dolphins, early to mid-1970s Raiders and 1970s Steelers.

10-21-2006, 07:06 PM
Most of us consider the Steelers of the 70's to be the greatest team of all time (and rightfully so), but I believe that the Raiders teams of the same era to be the 2nd best team of all time. If not for the Steelers, the Raiders would have 7 SB wins instead of 3. LOL no wonder they hated us so much!

Well said, I agree completely. They were every bit as tough and gritty as we were, and they played the game the way it was made to be played.


10-22-2006, 06:52 AM
:coffee: while sitting here this early in the am.. I am reading threads and this one by Lamberst lost tooth... is an Awesome a thread that I have read here in this forrum... Great write up... I just wish that could remember that game or get to watch it some how ... You made some great points and I have to say "I LOVE THE BLACK N GOLD":thumbsup: