Super Bowl XIII

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Super Bowl XIII
Super Bowl XIII.svg
1234Total
PIT71401435
DAL7731431
DateJanuary 21, 1979 (1979-01-21)
Stadium Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
MVP Terry Bradshaw, quarterback
FavoriteSteelers by 3.5 [1] [2]
Referee Pat Haggerty
Attendance79,484 [3]
Future Hall of Famers
Steelers: Art Rooney (owner), Dan Rooney (team administrator), Chuck Noll (coach), Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Tony Dungy‡, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Mike Webster ‡ elected as a coach.
Cowboys: Tex Schramm (team administrator), Gil Brandt (team administrator), Tom Landry (coach), Mike Ditka‡ (assistant coach), Tony Dorsett, Jackie Smith, Roger Staubach, Ernie Stautner‡ (assistant coach), Randy White, Rayfield Wright ‡ elected as a player.
Ceremonies
National anthem The Colgate Thirteen
Coin toss George Halas
Halftime show Bob Jani presents "Carnival: A Salute to the Caribbean" [4]
TV in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Curt Gowdy, John Brodie and Merlin Olsen
Nielsen ratings 47.1
(est. 74.74 million viewers) [5]
Market share74
Cost of 30-second commercial$185,000

Super Bowl XIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1978 season. The Steelers defeated the Cowboys by the score of 35–31. The game was played on January 21, 1979, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, the fifth and last time that the Super Bowl was played in that stadium.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

American Football Conference one of two conferences in the National Football League

The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference and its counterpart the National Football Conference (NFC), currently contain 16 teams divvied up into 4 divisions. Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League (AFL), with all ten of the former AFL teams and three NFL teams forming the AFC, and the remaining thirteen NFL clubs forming the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 clubs in each conference. The current AFC champions are the New England Patriots, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game.

The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the franchise's 46th season in the National Football League (NFL). The season concluded with the team winning Super Bowl XIII to become the first franchise in the NFL to win three Super Bowl titles. The championship run was led by quarterback Terry Bradshaw and the team's vaunted Steel Curtain defense. Bradshaw put together the best year of his career to that point, becoming only the second Steeler to win the NFL MVP award. Ten Steelers players were named to the Pro Bowl team, and four were judged as first-team All-Pros by the AP. Head coach Chuck Noll returned for his tenth season—moving him ahead of Walt Kiesling as the longest tenured head coach in the team's history to that point.

Contents

This was the first Super Bowl that featured a rematch of a previous one (the Steelers had previously beaten the Cowboys, 21–17, in Super Bowl X), and both teams were attempting to be the first club to ever win a third Super Bowl. Dallas was also the defending Super Bowl XII champion, and finished the 1978 regular season with a 12–4 record, and posted playoff victories over the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams. Pittsburgh entered the game after posting a 14–2 regular season record and playoff wins over the Denver Broncos and the Houston Oilers.

Super Bowl X

Super Bowl X was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1975 season. The Steelers defeated the Cowboys by the score of 21–17 to win their second consecutive Super Bowl. They were the third team to win back-to-back Super Bowls. It was also the first Super Bowl in which both participating teams had previously won a Super Bowl, as the Steelers were the defending champions and the Cowboys had won Super Bowl VI.

Super Bowl XII

Super Bowl XII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1977 season. The Cowboys defeated the Broncos 27–10 to win their second Super Bowl. The game was played on January 15, 1978, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. This was the first time that the Super Bowl was played in a domed stadium, and the first time that the game was played in prime time in the Eastern United States.

The 1978 Atlanta Falcons season was the Falcons' 13th season. It was the first postseason appearance in franchise history with a 9–7 record. Hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in their first ever playoff game, the Falcons scored 2 TDs in their final 14 minutes to pull out a 14–13 win. A week later the Falcons were 14-point underdogs facing the Cowboys. The Falcons took a 20-13 lead into halftime, but the Cowboys battled back to take a 27-20 lead. With one last shot the Falcons fell inches short of a first down on the Cowboys' 32-yard line, as the Cowboys got the ball and ran down the clock.

Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who was named Super Bowl MVP, completed 17 out of 30 passes for Super Bowl records of 318 passing yards and 4 touchdown passes. Bradshaw eclipsed Bart Starr's Super Bowl record for passing yards in the first half with 253 yards in the air as the Steelers led 21–14 at intermission. His 75-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter also tied Johnny Unitas in Super Bowl V for the longest pass in a Super Bowl. The Cowboys were able to stay close, only trailing 21–17 at the end of the third quarter, but Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns in a span of 19 seconds in the fourth period. Dallas also could not overcome turnovers, drops, and a controversial penalty during the second half. The Cowboys were eventually able to score two touchdowns in the final minutes of the game, but still ended up being the first defending champion to lose in the Super Bowl and the first losing Super Bowl team to score 30 points or more.

Terry Bradshaw American football quarterback

Terry Paxton Bradshaw is a former American football quarterback who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL). Since 1994, he has been a TV sports analyst and co-host of Fox NFL Sunday. Bradshaw is also an actor, having participated in many television shows and films, most notably starring in the movie Failure to Launch. He played for 14 seasons with Pittsburgh, won four Super Bowl titles in a six-year period, becoming the first quarterback to win three and four Super Bowls, and led the Steelers to eight AFC Central championships. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility. Bradshaw was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Bart Starr American football player, coach, executive

Bryan Bartlett "Bart" Starr is a former professional American football player and coach. He played quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1956 through 1971. Starr is the only quarterback in NFL history to lead a team to three consecutive league championships (1965–1967). Starr trails only New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for total NFL championships, with five. Starr led his team to victories in the first two Super Bowls: I and II. As the Packers' head coach, he was less successful, compiling a 52–76–3 (.408) record from 1975 through 1983.

Johnny Unitas American football player

John Constantine Unitas, nicknamed "Johnny U" and "The Golden Arm", was an American football player in the National Football League (NFL). He spent the majority of his career playing for the Baltimore Colts. He was a record-setting quarterback, and the NFL's most valuable player in 1959, 1964, and 1967. For 52 years he held the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass, until broken in 2012 by Drew Brees. Unitas was the prototype of the modern era marquee quarterback, with a strong passing game, media fanfare, and widespread popularity. He has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time.

Background

The NFL awarded Super Bowl XIII to Miami on June 14, 1977 at the owners meetings held in New York.

For the 1978–79 season, the NFL extended its schedule from 14 regular season games to 16 (which remains in place today, although the playoffs have since been expanded), and increased the playoffs from an 8-team tournament to 10, creating two extra playoff games. The three division winners from each conference would be ranked first through third and be given a week off, and two wild card teams from each conference, seeded fourth and fifth, would play a playoff game with the winner going on to play the first seeded team (or, if they were in the same division, the second seed).

In Super Bowls past the designated home team wore their colored jerseys, while the "visiting" team wore white. This was a rule implemented by the NFL and the teams had no choice in this matter. Super Bowl XIII was the first time the "home team" had the choice of which uniform to wear. Subsequently the Cowboys chose to wear their white jerseys, and Pittsburgh were forced to wear their colored since they were the designated visiting team. Home team designation had been kept the same since the beginning, thus the NFC being designated the home team in the odd years, while the AFC being designated the home team in the even years.

Dallas Cowboys National Football League franchise in Arlington, Texas

The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football team based in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. The Cowboys compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) East division. The team is headquartered in Frisco, Texas, and plays its home games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which opened for the 2009 season. The stadium took its current name prior to the 2013 season. The Cowboys joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1960. The team's national following might best be represented by its NFL record of consecutive sell-outs. The Cowboys' streak of 190 consecutive sold-out regular and post-season games began in 2002. The franchise has made it to the Super Bowl eight times, tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos for second most Super Bowl appearances in history, just behind the New England Patriots record eleven Super Bowl appearances. This has also corresponded to eight NFC championships, most in the NFC. The Cowboys have won five of those Super Bowl appearances, tying them with their NFC rivals, the San Francisco 49ers; both are second to Pittsburgh's and New England’s record six Super Bowl championships. The Cowboys are the only NFL team to record 20 straight winning seasons (1966–85), in which they missed the playoffs only twice.

Pittsburgh Steelers National Football League franchise in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional American football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers compete in the National Football League (NFL), as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) North division. Founded in 1933, the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC.

National Football Conference one of two conferences in the National Football League

The National Football Conference (NFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference and its counterpart the American Football Conference (AFC), currently contain 16 teams divvied up into 4 divisions. Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League (AFL), with all ten of the former AFL teams and three NFL teams forming the AFC while the remaining thirteen NFL clubs formed the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 clubs in each conference. The current NFC champions are the Los Angeles Rams, who defeated the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 NFC Championship Game.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers joined the Cowboys in their attempt to be the first team to ever win a third Super Bowl, after wins in Super Bowl IX and Super Bowl X. Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw had the best season of his career, completing 207 of 368 passes for 2,915 yards and 28 touchdowns, with 20 interceptions. He ranked as the second highest rated passer in the league (84.8), his 28 touchdown passes led the league, and he won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. Wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth provided the team with a great deep threat. Swann recorded 61 receptions for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Stallworth had 41 receptions for 798 yards and 9 touchdowns. Tight end Randy Grossman, who replaced injured starter Bennie Cunningham for most of the season, also was a big factor, recording 37 receptions for 448 yards and a touchdown.

Super Bowl IX

Super Bowl IX was an American football game played between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Minnesota Vikings to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1974 season. The game was played on January 12, 1975, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Steelers defeated the Vikings by the score of 16–6 to win their first Super Bowl championship.

Passer rating is a measure of the performance of passers, primarily quarterbacks, in American football and Canadian football. There are two formulae currently in use: one used by both the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL), and the other used in NCAA football. Passer rating is calculated using a player's passing attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions. Since 1973, passer rating has been the official formula used by the NFL to determine its passing leader. Passer rating in the NFL is on a scale from 0 to 158.3. Passing efficiency in college football is on a scale from −731.6 to 1261.6.

Lynn Swann American football player and politician

Lynn Curtis Swann is an American football player, broadcaster, politician, and athletic director, best known for his association with the University of Southern California and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He served as the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition from 2002 to 2005. In 2006, he was the Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania.

In the Steelers' rushing game, fullback Franco Harris was the team's leading rusher for the 7th consecutive season, recording 1,082 yards and 8 touchdowns, while also catching 22 passes for another 144 yards. Halfback Rocky Bleier had 633 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns, while also catching 17 passes for 168 yards. The Steelers' success on offense was due in large measure to their stellar offensive line, anchored by future Hall of Fame center Mike Webster.

Franco Harris Player of American football

Franco Harris is a former American football fullback who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. He was picked by the Steelers in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft, the 13th selection overall. He played his first 12 years in the NFL with the Steelers; his 13th and final year was spent with the Seahawks. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Rocky Bleier Recipient of the Purple Heart medal

Robert Patrick "Rocky" Bleier is an American former professional American football player. He was a National Football League (NFL) halfback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968 and from 1971 to 1980.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Professional sports hall of fame in Canton, Ohio

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame for professional American football, located in Canton, Ohio. Opened in 1963, the Hall of Fame enshrines exceptional figures in the sport of professional football, including players, coaches, franchise owners, and front-office personnel, almost all of whom made their primary contributions to the game in the National Football League (NFL); the Hall inducts between four and eight new enshrinees each year. The Hall of Fame's Mission is to "Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE."

Although Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" defense had some new starters this season, such as linemen John Banaszak and Steve Furness, and defensive back Tony Dungy, [6] they finished first in fewest points allowed (195), second in the league against the run (allowing 107.8 yards per game), and ranked third in fewest total yards allowed (4,529). Once again, defensive tackles Joe Greene and L. C. Greenwood anchored the line, while Pro Bowl linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert combined for 7 interceptions. Dungy led the team with 6 interceptions, while the rest of the secondary, defensive backs Mel Blount, Donnie Shell, and Ron Johnson, combined for 11.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys became the first team to appear in five Super Bowls (after playing in Super Bowls V, VI, X and XII). Dallas led the league in scoring (384) and was No. 2 in total yards (5,959). The defending Super Bowl champions were once again led by quarterback Roger Staubach. Staubach finished the season as the top rated passer in the NFL (84.9) by throwing 231 out of 413 completions for 3,190 yards and 25 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions. He also rushed for 182 yards and another touchdown. Wide receivers Drew Pearson and Tony Hill provided the deep passing threats, combining for 90 receptions, 1,537 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Tight end Billy Joe DuPree contributed 34 receptions for 509 yards and 9 touchdowns. Running back Tony Dorsett had another fine season, recording a total of 1,703 combined rushing and receiving yards, and scoring a total of 9 touchdowns. Fullback Robert Newhouse and halfback Preston Pearson also contributed from the offensive backfield, combining for 1,326 rushing and receiving yards, while Newhouse also scored 10 touchdowns. The Cowboys also had a superb offensive line, led by Herbert Scott and 12-time Pro Bowler Rayfield Wright.

The Cowboys' "Doomsday Defense" finished the season as the top-ranked defense in the league against the run by only allowing 107.6 yards per game, 2nd in total yards allowed (4,009), and 3rd in points allowed (208). Pro Bowl linemen Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Harvey Martin, and Randy White anchored the line, leading the league with 58 sacks, while linebackers Bob Breunig, D. D. Lewis and Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson provided solid support. Their secondary, led by safeties Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters, along with cornerbacks Benny Barnes and Aaron Kyle, combined for 16 interceptions.

The Cowboys started the regular season slowly, winning only six of their first ten games. But Dallas finished strong, winning their last six regular season games to post a 12–4 record.

Playoffs

Dallas marched through the playoffs, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 27–20, and the Los Angeles Rams, 28–0. Meanwhile, the Steelers easily demolished the Denver Broncos, 33–10, and the Houston Oilers, 34–5.

Super Bowl pregame news and notes

Although the Super Bowl had grown into America's biggest one-day sporting event by this point, many believe the 13th edition began the game's evolution to unofficial national holiday. It was the first Super Bowl with a true heavyweight title-fight feel, given the Steelers' and Cowboys' unquestioned status as the two best teams in the NFL, and the honor of the first three-time Super Bowl champion (and likely team of the 1970s designation) that would go to the winner.

Super Bowl XIII can arguably be called the greatest collection of NFL talent ever to gather for a game. In addition to coaches Noll and Landry, 14 players would end up being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of the 14 Hall of Fame players to play in this game, nine were Pittsburgh players (Bradshaw, Harris, Swann, Stallworth, Webster, Greene, Lambert, Ham, and Blount), and five were Dallas players (Staubach, Dorsett, White, Wright, and Jackie Smith). The Cowboys had lured Smith out of retirement from the St. Louis Cardinals, due to injuries to Cowboys tight ends; most notably, Jay Saldi. Other Hall of Famers who participated in the game representing the Cowboys were general manager/team president Tex Schramm, and defensive coordinator Ernie Stautner, who actually was a Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the Steelers. Additional Hall of Famers representing the Steelers included owner Art Rooney, Sr., and son Dan Rooney.

This was the first Super Bowl in which the designated "home" team was allowed to select between their primary team colored jersey or their white jersey, a rule similar to that of home games in the regular season and playoffs. Previously, the designated "home" team was required to wear their team colored jersey. The Cowboys, who traditionally wear their white jerseys in home games and often only wear their blue jerseys against teams that have similar policies for themselves (most notably against the Washington Redskins and occasionally the Philadelphia Eagles), were forced to wear their blue jerseys as the "home" team in Super Bowl V, which the team lost to the Baltimore Colts and is widely believed where the "blue jersey jinx" started with America's Team. Not wanting a repeat of that being the designated "home" team in Super Bowl XIII, the Cowboys were able to persuade the NFL to change the rule to allow the "home" team to choose so that they could wear their white jerseys. The Cowboys would later repeat the option of wearing white jerseys as the "home" team in Super Bowl XXVII, while the Redskins would do so in Super Bowl XVII and, ironically, the Steelers (who always wear their black jerseys in home games) did in Super Bowl XL due to the team's success on the road that season. The only other teams to wear white jerseys as the designated home team in a Super Bowl were the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

This was the first Super Bowl played on grass to match two teams which played their home games on artificial turf.

The Cowboys were playing their third Super Bowl at the Orange Bowl, the first team to play three different Super Bowls in the same stadium. The New England Patriots have since done the same playing three Super Bowls at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Cowboys were 0–3 in Orange Bowl games and 5–0 in their other Super Bowls.

Much of the pregame hype surrounding Super Bowl XIII centered around Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Henderson caused quite a stir before the NFC Championship Game by claiming that the Rams had "no class" and the Cowboys would shut them out. His prediction came true as the Cowboys did shut them out, aided by Henderson's 68-yard interception return for a touchdown. In the days leading up the Super Bowl, Henderson began talking about the Steelers in the same manner. He predicted another shutout and then made unflattering comments about several Pittsburgh players. He put down the talent and the intelligence of Bradshaw, proclaiming "Bradshaw couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a'." But the Steelers refused to get into a war of words with Henderson. Greene responded by saying the Steelers didn't need to say they were the best, they would just go out on the field and "get the job done.'"

The matchup of quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach is still the only one in Super Bowl history to feature two quarterbacks with two Super Bowl victories. With this start, Staubach became the first quarterback to start four Super Bowls. Bradshaw joined Fran Tarkenton, Bob Griese as well as Staubach as the only quarterbacks to start at least three Super Bowls. The only quarterbacks to start more Super Bowls than Staubach and Bradshaw are John Elway and Tom Brady, who guided the Broncos and Patriots to five and seven Super Bowls respectively. 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and Bills quarterback Jim Kelly later matched Staubach and Bradshaw by leading their teams to four Super Bowls.

Betting line

The point spread for the game opened at Pittsburgh -3.5 points. As the Steelers backers placed bets on them the sportsbooks adjusted the line. It eventually hit Pittsburgh -4.5 and then the Dallas money poured in on the Cowboys. It eventually settled at Pittsburgh at -4. The Steelers' four-point eventual margin of victory meant the Las Vegas sportsbooks lost the vast majority of wagers on the game. The game thus came to be known as "Black Sunday" in Las Vegas. [7]

Broadcasting

The game was televised in the United States by NBC, with Curt Gowdy handling play-by-play and sharing the booth with color commentators John Brodie and Merlin Olsen. Dick Enberg served as the pregame host for the broadcast. Also taking part in NBC's coverage were Bryant Gumbel, Mike Adamle (who also covered the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation ceremony), Donna De Varona, and recently retired former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton. For this game and Super Bowl XV, NBC used a custom, synthesizer-heavy theme in place of their regular music.

This was Gowdy's seventh and final Super Bowl telecast, and his last major event for NBC before moving to CBS later in 1979. Enberg had essentially succeeded Gowdy as NBC's lead NFL play-by-play announcer in the 1978 regular season, and network producers didn't decide until nearly the last minute which man would get the Super Bowl call. [8]

The national radio broadcast of Super Bowl XIII was carried by the CBS Radio Network, with Jack Buck and Hank Stram calling the action and Pat Summerall hosting. Locally, Verne Lundquist and Brad Sham called the game for the Cowboys on KRLD-AM in Dallas, while Jack Fleming and Myron Cope called it for the Steelers on WTAE-AM in Pittsburgh. A technical glitch led to Fleming and Cope's commentary going out over NBC's television broadcast in place of the network's own audio during the coin toss ceremony.

Brothers and Sisters premiered on NBC after the game, representing the Super Bowl lead-out program.

The game was later featured on NFL's Greatest Games as Battle of Champions.

Entertainment

The pregame festivities featured the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and several military bands. The Colgate Thirteen performed the national anthem, while the Stetson University Army ROTC Color Guard presented the Colors. The coin toss ceremony featured Pro Football Hall of Famer and longtime Chicago Bears owner/head coach George Halas, who was driven onto the field in a 1920 automobile to commemorate the 1920 founding of the NFL.

The halftime show was "Carnival: A Salute to the Caribbean" with various Caribbean bands.

Game summary

Both teams entered the game with the best defenses in the league (the Cowboys only allowed 107.6 rushing yards per game while the Steelers only allowed 107.8), and each side took advantage of the other team's mistakes throughout the game. But Dallas could not overcome their miscues in the second half.

First Quarter

On their opening drive, the Cowboys advanced to the Pittsburgh 38-yard line, with running back Tony Dorsett gaining 38 yards off 3 running plays. But they lost the ball on a fumbled handoff while attempting to fool the Steelers defense with a reverse-pass play. Receiver Drew Pearson later explained, "We practiced that play for three weeks. It is designed for me to hit Billy Joe 15 to 17 yards downfield. We practiced the play so much it was unbelievable we could fumble it. I expected the handoff a bit lower, but I should have had it. Billy Joe was in the process of breaking into the clear when the fumble occurred." [9] The play was similar to the near-turnover by Butch Johnson in the previous Super Bowl.

After defensive lineman John Banaszak recovered the loose ball on the Pittsburgh 47-yard line, the Steelers attempted 2 running plays with running back Franco Harris carrying the ball, but only gained 1 yard. Then on third down, wide receiver John Stallworth caught a 12-yard pass to the Cowboys' 40-yard line. Then after throwing an incomplete pass, Terry Bradshaw completed 2 consecutive passes, the second one a 28-yard touchdown completion to Stallworth to take a 7–0 lead.

On their next drive, the Cowboys responded by advancing to the Steelers 39-yard line, but were pushed back to their own 39-yard line after quarterback Roger Staubach was sacked twice, and they were forced to punt. On the Steelers' ensuing drive, Bradshaw threw a 22-yard pass to Harris and followed it up with a 13-yard pass to receiver Lynn Swann to move the ball to the Dallas 30-yard line. But on the next play, Dallas linebacker D. D. Lewis ended the drive by intercepting a pass intended for Stallworth. It was the first interception thrown by Bradshaw in Super Bowl play.

With a little more than a minute to go in the period, Bradshaw fumbled the ball while being sacked by Cowboys lineman Harvey Martin, and defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones recovered it. Staubach then capitalized on Bradshaw's mistake three plays later with a 39-yard scoring strike to receiver Tony Hill, tying the game at 7 as the first quarter expired. Pittsburgh sent eight men on an all-out blitz, but Staubach got the pass away just before he was hit by Steelers' safety Mike Wagner. Hill beat Donnie Shell in single-coverage and scored the only first-quarter touchdown surrendered by Pittsburgh all season (In Super Bowl X, the Cowboys also scored a first-quarter touchdown against a Steeler team that hadn't permitted one all year). Drew Pearson ensured the play's success by distracting Steelers cornerback Mel Blount, who was oblivious of Hill as he raced past Blount and Pearson en route to the end zone.

Second Quarter

The Steelers took possession at the start of the second quarter and advanced to their own 48-yard line. On the next play, Dallas linebackers Mike Hegman and Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson went after Bradshaw on a blitz. After taking the snap, Bradshaw collided with Franco Harris and the ball popped loose. Bradshaw scooped it up and rolled to his right, looking to pass, but Henderson wrapped him up before he could throw, while Hegman ripped the ball out of his hands and returned the fumble 37 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 14–7 lead.

The Steelers had now turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, [10] but the Cowboys' lead didn’t last long. On the third play of Pittsburgh's ensuing possession, Stallworth caught a pass from Bradshaw at the Steelers 35-yard line. He then broke a tackle from defensive back Aaron Kyle, waited for Swann and blockers to cross in front of him, turned toward the inside and outraced every other defender to the end zone, making a simple 10-yard pass into a 75-yard touchdown completion to tie the score, 14–14. Bradshaw later explained that Stallworth was not even the primary receiver on the play: "I was going to Lynn Swann on the post", he said, "but the Cowboys covered Swann and left Stallworth open. I laid the ball out there and it should have gone for about 15 yards, but Stallworth broke the tackle and went all the way." [9]

Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" defense then dominated the Dallas offense on their ensuing drive. First, Banaszak tackled fullback Robert Newhouse for 4-yard loss. Next, linebacker Jack Ham tackled Dorsett for a 3-yard loss on an attempted sweep. On third down, defensive tackle Joe Greene sacked Staubach, forcing a fumble that bounced through the hands of Steelers' defensive lineman Steve Furness. Cowboys lineman Tom Rafferty eventually recovered at the Dallas 13-yard line. Theo Bell then returned Danny White's ensuing 38-yard punt 3 yards to the Dallas 48-yard line.

The Steelers began their ensuing drive with Bradshaw's 26-yard completion to Swann. Jones tackled Harris for an 8-yard loss on the next play, but a subsequent holding penalty on Henderson gave Pittsburgh a first down at the Dallas 25-yard line. However, after an incomplete pass and a 2-yard run by Harris, Hegman sacked Bradshaw for an 11-yard loss on third down, pushing the ball back to the 34-yard line. The Steelers then came up empty after kicker Roy Gerela's 51-yard field goal attempt hit the crossbar.

With less than two minutes remaining in the half, Dallas advanced to the Pittsburgh 32-yard line, after starting from their own 34-yard line. But Blount exacted revenge from the first quarter by intercepting a pass from Staubach and returning it 13 yards to the 29, with a personal foul on Dallas tight end Billy Joe DuPree adding another 15 yards and giving the Steelers the ball at their own 44-yard line (note: the interception happened on exactly the same play that Drew Pearson scored on in the first quarter of Super Bowl X; Mike Wagner intercepted Staubach on exactly the same play call in the 4th quarter of the same game). Following a penalty, Bradshaw completed 2 passes to Swann for gains of 29 and 21 yards, moving the ball to the 16-yard line with 40 seconds left in the half. Next, after dropping a pass intended for him, Harris ran the ball to the 7-yard line. Then with just 26 seconds left, Bradshaw completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to fullback Rocky Bleier, giving the Steelers a 21–14 lead at halftime.

Third Quarter

The torrid scoring pace slowed during much of the third quarter, as both teams began to assert themselves on the defensive side of the ball. But late in the quarter, a 12-yard punt return by Cowboys receiver Butch Johnson gave Dallas good field position on their 42-yard line. The Cowboys subsequently drove down to the Steelers 10-yard line, mostly with Dorsett's rushing. Then on third down with less than three minutes remaining in the period, Staubach spotted 38-year-old reserve tight end Jackie Smith wide open in the end zone and threw him the ball. Head coach Tom Landry said Staubach tried to throw the ball soft when he saw how wide open Smith was and that it came in low, and that when Smith tried to stop, his feet seemed to come out from under him. Jackie Smith states that it was still a catchable ball and that he should have made the play. Instead, Smith dropped the pass and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal from kicker Rafael Septién, cutting their deficit to 21–17. [11] Though Smith played 16 years in the league and is now enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he is perhaps best known for this dropped touchdown, particularly in a championship game that was ultimately decided by four points.

Fourth Quarter

Two controversial penalties early in the fourth quarter paved the way for the Steelers to score 14 unanswered points.

The Steelers advanced to their own 44-yard line after a crucial 3rd down pass from Bradshaw to tight end Randy Grossman, a 13-yard pass to Swann, and a 5-yard run by Harris. Bradshaw then attempted a pass to Swann, but the receiver collided with Cowboys defensive back Benny Barnes and fell to the ground as the ball rolled incomplete. However, official Fred Swearingen (the referee of the Immaculate Reception game of 1972) called Barnes for pass interference. Replays showed that it could have been incidental contact, as Swann seemed to run into Barnes. The penalty gave Pittsburgh a first down at Dallas' 23-yard line.

Two plays later, the Steelers faced 3rd down and 4 from the Dallas 17. Henderson sacked Bradshaw for a 12-yard loss, but the play was nullified by a delay of game penalty on Pittsburgh, bringing up 3rd down and 9 instead of a fourth down. Replays clearly showed the whistle blew before the play's onset, plus most of the players pulled up and stopped playing after a whistle sounded, but Henderson claimed, "I didn't hear a whistle until after I had knocked Bradshaw down. The same guy (Swearingen) made that call too. Who is that guy?" " Franco Harris confronted Henderson for taunting Bradshaw after the whistle, and on the next play, Bradshaw handed the ball off to Harris, who raced untouched, with help from the Umpire Art Demmas impeding Cowboys safety Charlie Waters' attempt to tackle him, up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown run. The next day Waters was quoted as saying, "I don't know what I could do – maybe knock him [Umpire Demmas] flat and maybe he'd knock Franco flat? Our safeties play a vital role in the run. That official gets in the way a lot. He screened me off." [12] This score increased Pittsburgh's lead to 28–17. The run would be the Steelers' longest touchdown run in Super Bowl competition until Willie Parker scampered 75 yards for a score against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

On the ensuing kickoff, video shows that Gerela slipped when trying to plant his foot, causing him to squib the ball, which bounced to Cowboys lineman Randy White at the 24-yard line. White, who was playing the game with a cast on his broken left hand, fumbled the ball before being hit by Tony Dungy, and Pittsburgh linebacker Dennis Winston recovered the ball at the Dallas 18-yard line. Remarkably, Winston wasn't even in the middle of the scrum when the fumble first occurred; he was standing by several teammates and decided to join the battle for the ball before referees intervened. On the next play, Bradshaw threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Swann, increasing the Steelers' lead to 35–17 with less than 7 minutes left in the game. The touchdown was Bradshaw's last pass of the game.

Some of the Steelers were already celebrating victory on the sidelines, but the Cowboys refused to give up. On their next drive, Dallas drove 89 yards in 8 plays, including an 18-yard scramble by Staubach on 3rd and 11 and a 29-yard run by Dorsett, to score on Staubach's 7-yard touchdown pass to DuPree. Then after Dallas' Dennis Thurman recovered an onside kick at 2:19, Drew Pearson caught 2 passes for gains of 22 and 25 yards (the second catch on 4th down and 18) as the Cowboys drove 52 yards in 9 plays to score on Staubach's 4-yard touchdown pass to Butch Johnson. With the ensuing extra point, the Steelers' lead was cut to 35–31 with just 0:22 left in the game.

But the Cowboys' second onside kick attempt was unsuccessful. Bleier recovered the ball, and the Steelers were able to run out the clock to win the game.

Swann was the leading receiver in the game with 7 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. Stallworth recorded 115 yards and two touchdowns off just 3 receptions. Stallworth and Swann became the first pair of teammates to each have 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl and first time two receivers did it in the same game. Dorsett was the top rusher of the game with 96 rushing yards, and also caught 5 passes for 44 yards. Harris was Pittsburgh's leading rusher with 68 yards, and he caught a pass for 22 yards. Staubach finished the game with exactly as many passing attempts (30) and completions (17) as Bradshaw, good for 228 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Butch Johnson caught 2 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown, returned 3 kickoffs for 63 yards, and gained 33 yards on 2 punt returns, giving him 126 total yards. Drew Pearson hauled in 4 passes for 73 yards, all in the fourth quarter.

Aftermath

The teams would face in yet another re-match in Three Rivers Stadium during Week 9 of the 1979 regular season, with the Steelers prevailing in a defensive slug fest, 14–3. Unlike Super Bowl XIII, Harris was able to break free of Doomsday, gaining 48 of his 102 yards on the game-clinching touchdown. The game was mostly remembered for L. C. Greenwood's hit of a sliding Staubach, causing a head injury that later influenced the quarterback to retire following the season.

Pittsburgh would cement their legacy as "The Team of the 70's" by winning Super Bowl XIV over the Los Angeles Rams, 31–19. The Cowboys would fall to the Rams in the Divisional Round in 1979 in Staubach's final game. Led by Danny White, Dallas would appear in three straight NFC Championship games from 1980–82 but wouldn't reach another Super Bowl until their 52–17 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. Super Bowl XIII is still widely regarded as one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever played. According to the nfl.com article "Ranking the Super Bowls" by media analyst Elliot Harrison, featuring Dallas personnel man Gil Brandt, Super Bowl XIII was the greatest of the first 49 played. According to Brandt, "Super Bowl XIII, in my mind, was the most memorable of the Super Bowls. Those were two great football teams. We (the Cowboys) made mistakes. We had Randy White on the return team with a cast on, and then he fumbled the kickoff ... which really hurt us. Even though we lost, I would say Super Bowl XIII was the greatest Super Bowl." [13]

Box score

Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
1234Total
Steelers (AFC)71401435
Cowboys (NFC)7731431

at Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

  • Date: January 21, 1979
  • Game time: 4:15 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: 71 °F (22 °C), cloudy [14]
Scoring summary
QuarterTime Drive TeamScoring informationScore
Plays Yards TOP PITDAL
19:477533:12PIT John Stallworth 28-yard touchdown reception from Terry Bradshaw, Roy Gerela kick good70
10:003411:00DAL Tony Hill 39-yard touchdown reception from Roger Staubach, Rafael Septien kick good77
212:08DALFumble recovery returned 37 yards for touchdown by Mike Hegman, Septien kick good714
210:253801:43PITStallworth 75-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good1414
20:265561:15PIT Rocky Bleier 7-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good2114
32:369324:55DAL27-yard field goal by Septien2117
47:108854:58PIT Franco Harris 22-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick good2817
46:51118:06PIT Lynn Swann 18-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good3517
42:278894:24DAL Billy Joe DuPree 7-yard touchdown reception from Staubach, Septien kick good3524
40:229522:01DAL Butch Johnson 4-yard touchdown reception from Staubach, Septien kick good3531
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football.3531

Final statistics

Sources: NFL.com Super Bowl XIII, Super Bowl XIII Play Finder Pit, Super Bowl XIII Play Finder Dal

Statistical comparison

Pittsburgh SteelersDallas Cowboys
First downs1920
First downs rushing26
First downs passing1513
First downs penalty21
Third down efficiency9/158/16
Fourth down efficiency0/01/1
Net yards rushing66154
Rushing attempts2432
Yards per rush2.84.8
Passing – Completions/attempts17/3017/30
Times sacked-total yards4–275–52
Interceptions thrown11
Net yards passing291176
Total net yards357330
Punt returns-total yards4–272–33
Kickoff returns-total yards3–456–104
Interceptions-total return yards1–131–21
Punts-average yardage3–43.05–39.6
Fumbles-lost2–23–2
Penalties-total yards5–359–89
Time of possession26:1833:42
Turnovers33

Individual statistics

Steelers Passing
C/ATT1YdsTDINTRating
Terry Bradshaw 17/3031841119.2
Steelers Rushing
Car2YdsTDLG3Yds/Car
Franco Harris 20681223.40
Rocky Bleier 23021.50
Terry Bradshaw2–502–2.50
Steelers Receiving
Rec4YdsTDLG3Target5
Lynn Swann 712412912
John Stallworth 31152756
Randy Grossman 3290104
Theo Bell 2210124
Franco Harris1220222
Rocky Bleier17172
Cowboys Passing
C/ATT1YdsTDINTRating
Roger Staubach 17/3022831100.4
Cowboys Rushing
Car2YdsTDLG3Yds/Car
Tony Dorsett 16960296.00
Roger Staubach4370189.25
Scott Laidlaw 312074.00
Preston Pearson 16066.00
Robert Newhouse 83050.38
Cowboys Receiving
Rec4YdsTDLG3Target5
Tony Dorsett5440136
Drew Pearson 4730257
Tony Hill 2491394
Butch Johnson 2301262
Billy Joe DuPree 2171104
Preston Pearson215085
Robert Newhouse00001
Jackie Smith 00001

1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Longest gain 4Receptions 5Times targeted

Records Set

The following records were set in Super Bowl XIII, according to the official NFL.com boxscore [15] and the ProFootball reference.com game summary. [16]
Some records have to meet NFL minimum number of attempts to be recognized. [17] The minimums are shown (in parenthesis).

Player Records Set [16]
Passing Records
Most attempts, career98Roger Staubach
Most completions, career61
Highest completion
percentage, career, (40 attempts)
62.2% (61-98)
Most passing yards, career734 yds
Most touchdown passes, career8
Most passing yards, game318 ydsTerry Bradshaw
Most touchdown passes, game4
Highest passer rating,
career, (40 attempts)
120.0
Highest average gain,
career (40 attempts)
9.9 yds (623-63)
Lowest percentage, passes
had intercepted, career, (40 attempts)
1.6% (1-63)
Rushing Records
Most yards, career308 ydsFranco Harris
Most attempts, career81
Longest Touchdown Run22 yds
Most rushing yards, game, Quarterback37 ydsRoger Staubach
Highest average gain, career (20 attempts)5.23 yards (162-31)Tony Dorsett
Receiving Records
Most yards, career285 ydsLynn Swann
Highest average gain, career (8 receptions)25.9 yds (285-11)
Combined yardage records
Most Attempts, career85Franco Harris
Most yards gained, career356
Fumbles
Most fumbles, career5Roger Staubach
Defense
Most sacks, career 5 L C Greenwood (Pit)
Records Tied
Most touchdowns, game2John Stallworth
Most touchdowns, career2Franco Harris
Lynn Swann
John Stallworth
Butch Johnson(Dal)
Most rushing touchdowns, career2Franco Harris
Most receiving touchdowns, career2John Stallworth
Lynn Swann
Butch Johnson
Longest scoring play75 yds receptionJohn Stallworth
Longest Reception75 yds
Most receiving touchdowns, game2
Longest pass75 yds (TD)Terry Bradshaw
Most (one point) extra points, game5 Roy Gerela (Pit)
Most (one point) extra points, career8
Most field goals attempted, career6
Most fumble returns for touchdowns, game1 Mike Hegman (Dal)
Team Records Set [16]
Most Super Bowl appearances5Cowboys
Most Super Bowl victories3Steelers
Touchdowns
Most touchdowns, losing team4Cowboys
Longest touchdown scoring drive89 yds
Passing
Most yards passing (net)291 ydsSteelers
Most passing touchdowns4
Records Tied
Most points, game35 ptsSteelers
Most touchdowns, game5
Most (one point) PATs5
Fewest first downs rushing2
Most first downs, passing15
Fewest punts, game3
Most points, fourth quarter14 ptsSteelers
Cowboys
Fewest rushing touchdowns0Cowboys
Records Set, both team totals [16]
TotalSteelersCowboys
Points
Most points66 pts3531
Most points scored, first half35 pts2114
Most points scored, second half31 pts1417
Most points, first quarter14 pts77
Most points, second quarter21 pts147
Most points, fourth quarter28 pts1414
Touchdowns, PATs
Most touchdowns954
Most (one point) PATs9(5-5)(4-4)
Passing
Most passing yards (net)467 yds291176
Most passing touchdowns743
First Downs
Most first downs, passing281513
Punt returns
Most yards gained, game60 yds2733
Records tied
Most times sacked945
Fewest first downs rushing826

Starting lineups

Source: [19]

Hall of Fame ‡

PittsburghPositionPositionDallas
Offense
John StallworthWR Tony Hill
Jon Kolb LT Pat Donovan
Sam Davis LG Herbert Scott
Mike WebsterC John Fitzgerald
Gerry Mullins RG Tom Rafferty
Ray Pinney RT Rayfield Wright
Randy Grossman TE Billy Joe DuPree
Lynn SwannWR Drew Pearson
Terry BradshawQB Roger Staubach
Franco HarrisRB Tony Dorsett
Rocky Bleier RB Robert Newhouse
Defense
L. C. Greenwood LE Ed "Too Tall" Jones
Joe GreeneLT Larry Cole
Steve Furness RT Randy White
John Banaszak RE Harvey Martin
Jack HamLLB Thomas Henderson
Jack LambertMLB Bob Breunig
Loren Toews RLB D. D. Lewis
Ron Johnson LCB Benny Barnes
Mel BlountRCB Aaron Kyle
Donnie Shell SS Charlie Waters
Mike Wagner FS Cliff Harris

Officials

This was the first Super Bowl to use a seven-man officiating crew. The side judge was added by a vote of NFL owners at their March 1978 meeting.

Jack Fette became the first official to work four Super Bowls.

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