As we get closer to finishing the 1970s on this NFL Thursday miniseries, it’s time to cement that Team of the Decade title. At this point, we had three different teams with two championships each: the Dallas Cowboys, the Miami Dolphins, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The title was up for grabs, and in fact, two of the above contenders got to face off in the Super Bowl. You know what happened next, right?
(And if you’re wanting to, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)
Super Bowl XIII MVP: Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh (original); Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh (revised)
The Steelers beat the Cowboys, 35-31, in a classic game that still is fun to watch on YouTube. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw claimed the MVP Award, as he threw for 4 touchdowns and 318 yards—but he also committed three turnovers, and we’re not fans of that sort of nonsense. Without those errors, the Steelers could have won this game by double digits.
Both teams gained at least 330 yards on offense while turning the ball over 3 times each, and the Pittsburgh offense couldn’t run the ball at all. The most consistent and contributing player for the Steelers had to be wide receiver Lynn Swann, the Super Bowl IX MVP. He caught 7 passes for 124 yards and one score. His longest catch went for just 29 yards, but his reliability here is huge.
Fellow WR John Stallworth caught 3 passes for 115 yards and two TDs, and his big play was the 75-yard score in the second quarter. Swann caught what turned out to be the game winner in the fourth quarter, and his value was just more consistent throughout the entire game, even while his QB was committing 3 turnovers. We like Swann for this award, making him our first-time repeat winner.
1978 NFL ROTY: Earl Campbell, RB, Houston & Al Baker, DE, Detroit (original); Baker (revised)
One of the all-time greats busted onto the NFL scene as Houston Oilers RB Earl Campbell (1,498 scrimmage yards and 13 TDs) claimed one of the ROTY trophies; the other was earned by Detroit Lions defensive end Al Baker (23 sacks). That is not a typo, as because the NFL didn’t officially start keeping sack stats until 1982, Baker’s effort seems to have gone by the wayside in the modern hype world.
With Buffalo Bills RB Terry Miller posting 1,306 scrimmage yards, it also shows us that Campbell’s season wasn’t as great as people think it was. We stripped Campbell of his 1978 MVP nod already, and even though Baker played for a 7-9 team that missed the postseason, setting an all-time NFL record—even if unofficial—is going to rule the day here. He earned this award on his own.