#4 Greatest Play & Game at Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh - The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns have engaged in many memorable battles during their storied rivalry.
There have been low-scoring, high-scoring, overtime and closely contested games. The contest selected by fans as the fourth-greatest game in Three Rivers Stadium history as part of the Steelers' Last Season at Three Rivers Celebration had virtually all the elements-except for being low-scoring. It was the Nov. 25, 1979 contest in which the Steelers won, 33-30, on a 37-yard field goal by rookie Matt Bahr with nine seconds left in overtime.
The fourth-greatest play was Joe Greene's jarring tackle of Earl Campbell for a one-yard loss in the AFC Championship game versus the Houston Oilers on Jan. 6, 1980.
1979 Overtime Victory
Pittsburgh 33, Cleveland 30
The Steelers' 33-30 overtime victory against their archrival was not only thrilling but had significance because it kept the Steelers tied with Houston for first place in the AFC Central race with three games remaining in the regular season.
In the contest, the Steelers had to rally from a 10-0 deficit just 7½ minutes into the game that actually could have been much worse.
The Browns opened with an impressive 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on their first series of the game. Larry Anderson fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Browns possession at the Steelers' three-yard line. The Steelers defense yielded just one yard on three plays, though, to hold the Browns to a field goal.
The defensive stand energized the Steelers offense and on the first play quarterback Terry Bradshaw connected with John Stallworth for a 34-yard completion. The Steelers were unable to fully capitalize and settled for a 45-yard Bahr field goal.
Cleveland built a 27-13 lead through three quarters, but the Steelers exploded for 17 fourth-quarter points, including Bahr's game-tying 21-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation.
Both teams had their first offensive series of the overtime end by interceptions. The Steelers systematically had driven to the Browns' 33-yard line before a Bradshaw pass intended for Lynn Swann was tipped and intercepted at the Browns' 12-yard line.
The Steelers then held Cleveland on its next possession to six plays and impressively marched from their own 17-yard line to the Browns' 19-yard line, where Bahr connected on his game-winning field goal.
The Steelers gained an NFL season-high 606 yards on offense, while the "Steel Curtain" defense sacked Cleveland quarterback Brian Sipe six times, led by L.C. Greenwood's 4½ sacks. Terry Bradshaw set career highs for passing attempts (44), completions (30) and passing yards (364), but his 28-yard run with less than two minutes remaining turned out to be the key play in the game as it set up Bahr's winning field goal.
Joe Greene's jarring tackle of Earl Campbell for a loss in AFC Championship game against Houston
Joe Greene was unquestionably the defensive leader of the Steelers four Super Bowl teams and the Steel Curtain. His nickname "Mean Joe" was a perfect moniker for his on-field demeanor. Just ask any opposing offensive player.
One of those players who was on the receiving end of some of Joe Greene's great hits was Earl Campbell. One of the memorable hits Greene inflicted on Campbell occurred during the Jan. 6, 1980 AFC Championship game and was voted by Steelers fans as the fourth-greatest play in Three Rivers Stadium history as part of the team's Last Season Celebration.
To set the scene: With the Steelers holding a precarious 17-10 halftime lead, the Oilers received the second-half kickoff and just converted a first down in two plays. Campbell, who was held to just 15 yards on 17 carries for the game, had just run for seven yards and a first down.
Greene, who delivered many violent hits during his Hall of Fame career, ended any momentum the Oilers' running game seemed to have generated by nailing Campbell with a crushing tackle for a one-yard loss. Three plays later the Oilers punted, and the Steelers went on to secure a 27-13 victory en route to their Super Bowl XIV victory against the Los Angeles Rams.
Game Notes: Each home game there will be honorary game captains, who played for the Steelers during their 31 seasons at Three Rivers. This week's captains are: linebacker Andy Russell (1963, 1966-76), tight end Randy Grossman (1974-81), defensive lineman Edmund Nelson (1982-87) and offensive lineman Pete Rostosky (1984-86).