By Leonard Shapiro|
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 13, 1975
NEW ORLEANS, Jan.
12 — The colors of the jerseys were different and so were the faces. But
the ninth Super Bowl was not much different from the eighth.
Vikings, creamed by the Miami Dolphins, 24-7, last year, were as
thoroughly thrashed by this year's American Football Conference
The Steelers won
today because their defense, as always, was a dominating force and
running back Franco Harris carried the offense on his powerful legs for
two Super Bowl rushing records and a touchdown.
Harris gained 158
yards in 34 carries, including a nine-yard touchdown run behind a
devastating block by Garry Mullins 95 seconds into the second half that
provided the Steelers a 9-0 lead.
assured the decision when quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the fellow who was
not supposed to be smart enough to win a world championship, passed four
yards to tight end Larry Brown for a touchdown with 3:31 remaining on a
play suggested on the sideline by reserve quarterback Joe Gilliam.
On a raw and
windswept afternoon over a field that was slippery from an overnight
rain, the Steelers dominated every aspect of the day's play.
Oh, the Vikings
got back in the football game when Matt Blair blocked Bobby Walden's
punt and Terry Brown recovered two yards into the end zone for a
touchdown that got them to within 9-6 with 11:33 to play.
Fred Cox missed
the extra point and things got considerably worse for the Vikings
thereafter. The Steelers kept the ball for seven minutes, two seconds
before Bradshaw rolled to his right, and hit Brown in the end zone for
the game clinching score.
The big play in
the drive, a 30-yard pass to Brown, will be hotly debated for as long as
these games are played. Brown seemingly fumbled the football when he was
hit by Jackie Wallace, but the officials ruled the play dead at the
Minnesota 28. To most observers in the crowd of 80, 97, including Viking
coach Bud Grant, it seemed like a quick whistle.
"It was just a
succession of errors by all three teams," Grant said in the locker room,
apparently referring to game officials as the third team.
"From our vantage
point," Grant said, "Brown had not reached the ground when the ball came
loose. Our bench reacted immediately. There wasn't any question in their
mind it was a fumble, but the officials ruled the ball dead."
"Our feeling was
there was no question that he was not down. The official who called it
was across the field and behind him and the official who ruled it our
ball was in front of the play. When they didn't give it to us, it became
a very big play_bigger than any we could make. Neither team got here
playing this kind of football."
were all manner of botched plays and bungled football all day. The
Vikings lost two fumbles and Fran Tarkenton, who was harassed
unmercifully by the Pittsburgh front four, threw three interceptions.
He also mishandled
an attempted pitchout intended for Dave Osborne and was forced to fall
on the ball in his end zone with 7:11 left in the second quarter for a
safety and a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.
The Steelers had
more than their share of adversity today as well. They were penalized
seven times for 107 yards and lost two fumbles. Their defense more than
atoned for those egregious errors.
"I'm proud of this
football team," Steeler coach Chuck Noll said when the game was over.
"We let nothing stand in our way. It's especially fitting in a
championship game that our defense shut out the National Football
Mean Joe Greene,
L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White chased Tarkenton all over
the ball park today, tipping away three of his passes and giving the
little scrambler no breathing room at all.
The Vikings were
held to 17 yards rushing, 12 less than Pittsburgh allowed the Oakland
Raiders last week, and Minnesota could manage only 119 yards of total
"They were the
best football team," said Tarkenton. "They deserved to win, we didn't.
We didn't capitalize on all our opportunities. Pittsburgh did. We're not
frustrated. We came to win, and we just couldn't do it."
Most of all, they
were unable to contain Harris, who moved at will inside or out, dragging
tacklers with him wherever he went.
The Vikings' Bill
Brown, a 36-year-old, 14-year veteran, fumbled the bouncing ball. It was
recovered by the Steelers' Marv Kellum at the Viking 39, and suddenly
the Steelers had another opportunity.
The Steelers, who
had wasted two good opportunities in the first half when Roy Gerela
missed a 37-yard field goal and could not get off a kick because of a
bad snap on a 33-yard effort, did not squander this one.
After Rocky Bleier
had no gain on first down, Bradshaw turned to Harris, the game's most
valuable player. He gained 24 yards on second down to the six, lost
three on first and goal from there, then swept left end behind a block
thrown by Gerry Mullins on linebacker Wally Hilgenberg for the score.
The Vikings had
more than their share of scoring opportunities but the Steeler defense
frustrated them at every turn.
Late in the first
half Tarkenton hit John Gilliam with a pass at the six, and then the
Steelers' Glen Edwards hit Gilliam a wicked shot. The ball bounced high
in the air and Mel Blount intercepted to kill the drive.
Early in the
fourth quarter, trailing 9-0, Tarkenton had a first-and-goal at the
Steeler five after a pass interference call on the Steelers' Mike
Wagner. He handed the ball to Chuck Foreman, who fumbled, and Greene
recovered for the Steelers.
blocked Walden's punt for a touchdown on the next series, but Tarkenton
never was able to get his team into the end zone.
completed only 11 of 27 passes and Gilliam, his dangerous wide receiver
caught only one of them. Foreman had five receptions but the Vikings'
leading ground gainer this season was held to 18 yards in 12 carries.
His running mate, Osborne, had minus one yard in eight carries.
Bradshaw was nine
of 14 for 96 yards, and gained 33 more yards on the ground. He had been
much maligned this season, as in all his previous four years in the
league. He should not be any more.
"I think I've
stated before that I've faced a lot of adversity," he said today. "I
withstood the trials and I was able to do it. I've looked at both sides,
being a hero and being jerk. I think I can handle this very well."
And so, too, will
Art Rooney Jr., the 73-year-old owner of this team he started in 1933.
"I'm not a bit
surprised after having been with these fellows all year," he said. "I
thought we could win the Super Bowl. They're a great bunch of fellows."
Rooney said he was
not all that concerned about the fact that his team had never been to a
Super Bowl game before. "I was more worried about them walking up and
down Bourbon Street, at night," he said.
© Copyright 1975
The Washington Post Company
Super Bowl IX MVP
Franco Harris, RB,
To earn the first
of its four Super Bowl championships, Pittsburgh turned to workhorse
running back Franco Harris. In defeating Minnesota 16-6, Pittsburgh won
its first-ever NFL championship. Harris rushed 34 times for 158 yards,
breaking the record Larry Csonka set one year earlier. After a
baseball-like 2-0 halftime score in favor of Pittsburgh, the Steelers
took advantage of a Minnesota fumble on the second-half kickoff. Harris
ran the ball in from 9 yards for the touchdown. Harris' running and the
powerful Steeler defense combined to make that lead stand.
Super Bowl IX Memory
Art Rooney Gets A
In 1933, Art
Rooney won $2,500 in a good day at the racetrack, then used the money to
purchase an NFL franchise for Pittsburgh. Rooney could not have foreseen
that it would take 41 years before good fortune bestowed a pro football
championship on his new team. Early Steelers teams included stars such
as Johnny Blood (McNally), Bill Dudley, Cal Hubbard, and Walt Kiesling
-- all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- but not until 1974,
when the Steel Curtain defense began to assert itself, was Rooney's
patience rewarded. Pittsburgh won the AFC Central Division title with a
10-3-1 record in 1974, then defeated Buffalo and Oakland in the
postseason to earn the right to play Minnesota in Super Bowl IX. The
Steelers beat the the Vikings 16-6 behind a defense that permitted only
17 rushing yards and 119 total yards. "This is the biggest win of my
life," the 73-year-old Rooney said as he accepted the Vince Lombardi
Trophy from NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. "I'm not ashamed to admit
that I had tears in my eyes when I presented the trophy to Art Rooney
that day," Rozelle said later. "No man ever deserved it more."
Super Bowl IX Performances
The measure of
Harris' role in the Steelers' offense can be measured like this: During
a 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, in which the Steelers
controlled possession for nearly 39 minutes, future Hall of Fame
quarterback Terry Bradshaw was required to complete only 9 passes for 96
yards while Harris carried 34 times for 158. Few explanations are
simpler than that. Although none of his running attempts went for more
than 25 yards, Harris was an unstoppable force who turned slivers of
daylight into 5- and 6-yard gains. He also scored the first of the
Steelers' 2 touchdowns.
Super Bowl week
was all but wasted on White, who contracted pleurisy on the flight to
New Orleans and spent the next six days in bed. On game day, the
Steelers' right defensive end weighed in 18 pounds under his normal
playing weight, and assistant coaches were wondering whether he'd
survive the pregame warmup. All of which make his performance that much
more memorable. He accounted for the Steelers' first points in a 16-6
victory by downing Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the end zone
for a safety -- 1 of his 3 tackles for the game -- and he missed only a
handful of plays all day.