View Full Version : Another Look: Steelers vs. Oilers, Jan. 7, 1979

01-08-2009, 01:40 PM
Another Look: Steelers vs. Oilers, Jan. 7, 1979
Another Look: Steelers vs. Oilers, Jan. 7, 1979
By Bob Barrickman, Times Sports Correspondent

Today marks the 30th anniversary of one of the worst weather games in Pittsburgh Steelers history. The Steelers met the Houston Oilers in the AFC championship game at Three Rivers Stadium on Jan. 7, 1979. A mixture of snow, freezing rain and rain fell throughout the day that saw the high temperature in the low 30s.

“I felt really bad for the fans who had to sit in that weather,” said Mike Wagner, a starting safety for the Steelers in that game.

Pittsburgh entered the contest at 15-2 while Houston had a mark of 11-6. The Oilers handed the Steelers their first loss of the regular season after seven wins in a Monday night game at Pittsburgh, 24-17.

Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw fought the flu bug in the days leading up to the game while the Pittsburgh defense had to deal with Oilers rookie running back Earl Campbell, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,450 yards. On that first Sunday in January of 1979 only wound up with 62 yards rushing.

“We were used to playing in bad weather,” said Wagner, who played with the Steelers from 1971-80. “The Oilers played in the (Astrodome) and had a comfortable temperature.”

Both teams fumbled six times to set an AFC title game record, but Pittsburgh’s offense collected 379 yards overall.

Running back Franco Harris gave the Steelers a 7-0 first quarter lead on a 7-yard run.

“When we got that first TD, L.C. (Greenwood) looked at me and said, ‘That’s all we need,’” said Pittsburgh defensive back Ron Johnson after the game. The Steelers scored 17 points in the last 58 seconds of the first half to take a commanding 31-3 lead into the locker room.

Pittsburgh breezed to a 34-5 win to advance to Super Bowl XIII.

“Once I got out there during warm ups, bingo, I started feelin’ a whole lot better,” Bradshaw said following his 200-yard passing performance.

“Our defense wanted unconditional surrender and got it,” Steelers coach Chuck Noll said.

“This team is still a lil’ baby,” Steelers defensive end Joe Greene said in The Times after his team’s decisive win. “We’re still getting better.”

Greene proved to be right as Pittsburgh beat Dallas, 35-31, for its third Super Bowl title, and the following year, the Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl crown in only six years.

Houston coach Bum Phillips made no excuses when he talked after the game played 30 years ago.

“The weather didn’t beat us,” he said. “Pittsburgh did.”

Another look appears Wednesdays.

(To bad that whining Walrus in Seattle didn't have the honesty and integrity that Bum Phillips had after our last SuperBowl win. - mesa)

01-08-2009, 02:26 PM
“Our defense wanted unconditional surrender and got it,”

I wish someone would post this quote in the defensive players locker room!!!

01-08-2009, 07:06 PM
I was at that game with my dad and uncle. What a game! Never forget the sign, "We don't want a Bum in Miami."