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Old 01-26-2011, 10:04 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default The Packers and the Steelers Broke the Hearts of the Cowboys

The Packers and the Steelers Broke the Hearts of the Cowboys
By JUDY BATTISTA
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/sp...gewanted=print

PITTSBURGH — The meeting of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV will be many things. A matchup of two of the N.F.L.’s most storied franchises. A throwdown between dominant defenses. A road trip extraordinaire to Dallas for devoted fans bearing Terrible Towels and Cheeseheads.

And an absolute nightmare for the Cowboys and their fans, whose distaste for the Washington Redskins might be superseded by only their hatred for the Packers, who prevented them from playing in Super Bowls I and II, and for the Steelers, who beat them in Super Bowls X and XIII. The Super Bowl that the Dallas owner Jerry Jones hoped would include the home team playing at Cowboys Stadium instead features two guests as unwanted in Dallas as bedbugs.

“Isn’t it great?” said Dave Robinson, a linebacker for the Packers teams that beat the Cowboys in the N.F.L. championship games that sent the Cowboys home.

“They were always the bridesmaids when we were playing,” Robinson said. “I rooted for the Cowboys, because I knew we could beat the Cowboys. Every time I heard ‘America’s Team,’ it ticked me off.”

The Packers and the Steelers go back a lot further than the Cowboys — they first met in the 1933 season — but until now they have never played each other in the postseason, and do not have the rivalry with each other that they do with Dallas.

Those two rivalries might be best summed up by a classic moment from Super Bowl X. Steelers kicker Roy Gerela had just missed a 33-yard field goal when Dallas free safety Cliff Harris patted Gerela on the helmet and said, “Way to go.” Middle linebacker Jack Lambert took exception, lifted Harris off his feet and flung him to the ground. After the game, Steelers Coach Chuck Noll shrugged it off. “Jack Lambert is a defender of what is right,” he said.

“If you went to a Dallas fan, and you said, ‘Who are the teams you most dislike?’ it would be Pittsburgh and Green Bay,” said Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys personnel executive.

Brandt admits that the Cowboys’ losses to the Packers — particularly in the famed Ice Bowl at the end of the 1967 season — were defining games for the N.F.L. and helped mold the image of the Packers. And Brandt noted that the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s and 1980’s began in large part because the patriarch of the Steelers, Art Rooney, declined to trade the first overall pick in the 1970 draft to the Cowboys who, in addition to other teams, wanted to move up. The target of both teams’ ardor: Terry Bradshaw.

“We offered a great package and Mr. Rooney said, ‘If this is worth so much to you and everybody else, I’ll keep the choice,’ ” Brandt said in a telephone interview. “Prior to that, they were a team that gave away choices for old players.”

In Dallas this week, as the laser light shows get their final run-throughs and the party planners stay up all night, Brandt and Roger Staubach, the great Cowboys quarterback, were talking. Brandt reminisced about how the Cowboys were late getting to the Orange Bowl in Miami for Super Bowl X when the Steelers’ buses took a wrong turn and wound up in a dead end, getting the players to the game just one hour before kickoff.

For Staubach, the memories are not so funny. He remembers a third-down pass dropped in the end zone during Super Bowl XIII by Jackie Smith in a game the Cowboys lost, 35-31. And a last-second pass during Super Bowl X intended for Percy Howard, a rarely used receiver who had already caught one touchdown pass in that game, that was broken up. The Cowboys lost, 21-17.

“As Roger said, if the rules had been the same then as they are today, they would never have been able to defend it,” Brandt said. “It was karate chopped by Mel Blount.”

No wonder the Pittsburgh announcer Myron Cope, the father of the Terrible Towel, nicknamed Staubach’s team “The Dallas Cryboys,” a handle that still resonates here.

The Cowboys recovered, of course. They had won Super Bowls VI and XII — had they beaten the Steelers in X and XIII, it would have been a Cowboys dynasty of the late 70s, instead of the Steelers. And they won three out of four Super Bowls in the 1990s, including Super Bowl XXX over Pittsburgh.

During much of that time, the Packers struggled to have winning seasons. Robinson acknowledges that some of those Cowboys teams were very good, although he prefers to think that it was more a matter of the Packers not being good, rather than the Cowboys being outstanding. The Cowboys have won five Super Bowls, one fewer than the Steelers.

Still, the Cowboys’ star would gleam a lot brighter if it had not been for the Packers and the Steelers.

Jack Ham, the former Steelers linebacker, runs into Staubach occasionally, and Staubach still talks about a play that involved a double-level passing route — a crossing route and a deep post route. A Steelers safety jumped the crossing route and intercepted Staubach.

“To this day, Staubach says, ‘That post was wide open,’ ” Ham said. “We played in a charity tennis game in Dallas, and at one point I said to Roger, ‘You’ve got to let it go or get therapy.”
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