Super Bowl XIV: Steelers vs. Rams
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Date: January 20, 1980
Site: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Point-Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers -11/Los Angeles Rams +11
Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19
MVP: QB Terry Bradshaw
Super Bowl XIV was a colorful affair--the first game of the 1980’s. It brought with it some trademark elements of the 80’s, as the game grew into the bombastic and shimmering production we know it to be today. Pittsburgh, the only team to win three Super Bowls, won an unprecedented 4th superbowl all in the span of six seasons.
Terry Bradshaw, who won the game MVP in the previous Super Bowl, also won it in this game, throwing for over 300 yards for the second straight time on Super Bowl Sunday. Despite the final score, it was a close game for the most part, only broken open late by the Steelers, who finished the regular season at 12-4. The Rams, meanwhile, advanced all the way to the big game despite a 9-7 record.
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To get into the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh defeated the Miami Dolphins 34-14, before winning the AFC title game by beating the Oilers 27-13. Their defense was in fine form coming into the Super Bowl. The Rams had beaten the Dallas Cowboys 21-19 to advance to the NFC title game with a 9-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, paving the way for their appearance in Super Bowl 1980.
The Rams had lost their starting quarterback Pat Haden. Vince Ferragamo had awful stats, but 6 wins in 7 games offered a glimmer of promise, They were led on offense by RB Wendell Tyler, who ran for 1109 yards and caught 32 balls. Fullback Cullen Bryant chipped in with 5 touchdowns and the running game was aided by a nice offensive line. Their defense is what really kept them in the hunt. The line had two explosive ends, with Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer of Hunter fame. Their linebacking corps were excellent, with Hacksaw Reynolds and Jim Youngblood, complimented by the excellent Nolan Cromwell at safety.
For the Steelers, everything was still in place. Bradshaw threw for over 3700 yards. Receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth had nice seasons, with TE Bennie Cunningham chipping in nicely. Franco Harris ran for 1186 yards with 11 touchdowns and Rocky Bleier was still getting the job done. Combine that with a still-intact “Steel Curtain” defense and it’s no wonder why the Steelers had become the far-and-away choice as the greatest team in the Super Bowl era.
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First Half: The Rams couldn’t find any early success, setting up Pittsburgh for their first drive. A nice pass play to Harris got the Steelers inside the Rams’ 30, but the drive stalled. Kicker Matt Bahr connected from 41 yards to send the Steelers up 3-0. The Rams then took a weak Bahr kickoff to set up their first drive, featuring a beautiful 39-yard gallop by RB Wendell Tyler, which put L.A. at the Pittsburgh 14-yard line. Cullen Bryant ran it in from a yard out to put the 11-point underdog Rams up 7-3.
The Steelers got in nice position to answer after Larry Anderson returned the kick to almost midfield. The Steelers then went on a methodical drive, eating up clock. Early in the second quarter, Franco Harris ran it in from a yard out to put Pittsburgh back on top by a score of 10-7. A pass-interference by Donnie Shell set the Rams up for another drive and though it stalled, Frank Corral’s field goal tied the game at 10-10. Late in the first half, Bradshaw was picked off by Rams’ DB Dave Elmendorf, who returned it to the Pittsburgh 39-yard line. It led to a half-ending 45-yard field goal by Corral to give L.A. the halftime lead, 13-10.
Second Half: Sensing they needed to get their act together, Pittsburgh started the second half quickly. Bradshaw connected with Lynn Swann for a 47-yard touchdown connection to end the Steelers back up 17-13. But the Rams showed they were not ready to go quietly. The gutsy Ferragamo completed a 50-yard pass to WR Bill Waddy, setting up a little trickery. RB Lawrence McCutcheon took a Ferragamo handoff, luring the Steelers’ defense in, but then threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to WR Ron Smith. Corral missed the extra point, as the Rams retook the lead 19-17.
Things got worrisome for the Steelers. Bradshaw got picked off twice in the 3rd quarter and Swann was now out of the game. Early in the 4th quarter, on 3rd and 8, Bradshaw found WR John Stallworth down the middle and he took it 73 yards to again give Pittsburgh the 24-19 lead in one of the better see-saw Super Bowl games.
Halfway through the 4th, Ferragamo mustered one last final drive. Some Tyler runs and a few key completions gave L.A. the ball on the Pittsburgh 32. Ferragamo, a first-year starter, had played a commendable game, but blew it late, missing a wide-open Bill Waddy and instead throwing it to Steelers LB Jack Lambert for an interception.
On the ensuing Pittsburgh drive, Harris took it in from a yard out, extending the lead to 31-19. The Rams turned it over on downs, enabling the Steelers to run out the clock and notch their 4th Super Bowl victory.