How did we get to Super Bowl IX so fast on NFL Thursday? Seems like just yesterday we started all this NFL historical analysis! Well, obviously not, but you know what we mean. Time flies when you’re having fun, and we love what we do here. And now, we’re on to another budding dynasty in the annals of professional football in America.
(And if you’re wanting to, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)
Super Bowl IX MVP: Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (original), Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh (revised)
In a game where the losing team managed just 119 total yards, you’d think we’d have ended up with a voted defensive MVP, but no. The Pittsburgh Steelers smothered the Minnesota Vikings, 16-6, to win their first NFL title, and Steelers running back Franco Harris won the MVP nod by running for 158 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. But he actually fumbled twice and lost one of them as well. Not cool!
Can we isolate a defensive MVP for Pittsburgh in lieu of Fumblin’ Franco?! Yes: Joe Greene, the famous defensive tackle known as Mean Joe. This game was famously a 2-0 defensive struggle at halftime, and in the third quarter, Greene intercepted a pass thrown by future Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, and he also later forced and recovered a fumble by Vikings RB Chuck Foreman.
These were huge turnovers in a game that was still close at the time (9-0). The forced fumble and recovery happened inside the 5-yard line, and it may have been the play that broke the Minnesota spirit for good. We like Greene here for this award, despite Harris’ rushing records at the time for both carries and yards. His success was circumstantial, and his fumbles were inexcusable.
1973 NFL ROTY: Don Woods, RB, San Diego Chargers & Jack Lambert, LB, Pittsburgh (original); Lambert (revised)
The San Diego Chargers finished 5-9 on the year, but it wasn’t the fault of RB Don Woods, as he totaled 1,511 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs. He won the offensive ROTY vote, but we can’t reward the effort that occurred in a void, as good as his season was. Defensively, Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert won the ROTY honors there, with 2 sacks and 2 INTs for the second-best scoring defense in the NFL.
With the Steelers winning the AFC Central, we’re more inclined to favor Lambert here. But who else is a candidate? No one, really, except Ed Jones, the Dallas Cowboys defensive end known as Too Tall. He had 6 sacks, but the Cowboys missed the postseason for only time between 1966 and 1983. That’s bad luck for Too Tall Jones, so we give this trophy to Lambert alone.
Check in every Thursday for our NFL awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!