Super Bowl X
Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
January 18, 1976; Attendance: 80,187
What were, at the time, the two most popular teams in the NFL met in Super Bowl X, and the contrast between their styles was as great as the hue of their jerseys.
The glitzy, white-clad Dallas Cowboys—”America’s Team”—combined a high-tech offense and a state-of-the art Flex Defense to put on a dazzling show each Sunday. They were easy to like, and for once, they even had something of an underdog aura, having reached the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team. The black-clad Pittsburgh Steelers, out to defend their Super Bowl victory of the year before, lived by a Steel-hard defense occasionally spelled by a grind-it out running attack that would have been at home in the NFL of the 1930s.
Before the end of the quarter, Pittsburgh evened the score on a seven-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw to tight end Randy Grossman. Setting up the score was a 32-yard pass to Lynn Swann, whose health was questionable because of a concussion he had suffered in the AFC Championship Game. Swann out-leaped a Dallas defender, then magically kept both feet inside the sideline to make his catch.
Dallas reclaimed the lead at 10-7 only 15 seconds into the second quarter when Toni Fritsch booted a 36-yard field goal.
Later, Pittsburgh’s Roy Gerela, playing at less than 100 percent because of a cracked rib he suffered making a tackle on the opening kickoff, shanked a field goal try and Dallas went to the locker room with a 10-7 lead.
Defense continued to dominate in the scoreless third quarter. Pittsburgh sacked Staubach seven times during the game and forced him to scramble on numerous occasions. Moreover, they pressured him into an uncharacteristic 3 interceptions.
One of the interceptions set up another field-goal try by Gerela, but he pulled it left from 33 yards. Dallas safety Cliff Harris mockingly patted him on the helmet, only to be unceremoniously dumped on his hip pads by irate Pittsburgh linebacker Jack Lambert. The inspired Steelers dominated after that.
In the fourth quarter, Steelers reserve fullback Reggie Harrison blocked Mitch Hoopes’s punt. The ball rolled through the end zone for a safety to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 10-9. Gerela, who’d donned a corset to protect his ribs, regained his kicking touch with field goals of 36 and 18 yards to put the Steelers in front 15-10.
It took Staubach only 1:14 to get the touchdown back, completing a drive with a 34-yard bulls-eye to Percy Howard—the only pass Howard caught during his entire career.
Terry Hanratty replaced Bradshaw, still woozy from the hit suffered after his touchdown pass to Swann, but the Steelers were stalled on a fourth-and-9 at the Dallas 41 with almost a minute and a half to go. Coach Noll feared a blocked kick and called for a Rocky Bleier run that gained only 2 yards. Noll was gambling that his defense could stop the Cowboys.
Trailing only 21-17, Staubach had the ball back with more time than he usually needed to negotiate 61 yards. The Cowboys reached Pittsburgh’s 38. With five seconds left, Staubach launched his final pass into the end zone. Steelers Mike Wagner batted the ball, which was caught by the Steelers, Glen Edwards and the Steelers had their second consecutive Super Bowl victory.