We are wrapping up the 1970s decade on this NFL Thursday miniseries, which means it’s also the end of a major dynasty in the modern era of professional football in America. The Pittsburgh Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl in just a six-year span, setting a precedent no other franchise has been able to match since. That’s a fact … not even Cheatin’ Tom Brady could pull this off.
(And if you’re wanting to, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)
Super Bowl XIV MVP: Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh (original); Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh (revised)
The Steelers beat the Los Angeles Rams, 31-19, with a fourth-quarter comeback, and quarterback Terry Bradshaw won the MVP Award at the time—despite throwing for 3 interceptions which put his team in the hole to begin with! Bradshaw did throw the go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter, but there has to be someone better than this to peg as the game’s MVP, right?
Yes: While wide receivers John Stallworth (3 catches for 121 yards and 1 TD) and Lynn Swann (5 catches for 79 yards and 1 TD) both had good games, we’re giving this MVP nod to either running back Franco Harris (112 scrimmage yards, 2 TDs) or linebacker Jack Lambert (1 INT, 8 tackles). The WR duo each had relatively mellow days, save for one long TD catch each. Blame that on Bradshaw’s inefficiency.
Meanwhile, Harris didn’t have a lot of running room, but he turned 3 short screen passes into long gains to help move the Steelers offense, and Lambert’s defensive presence was huge. He made the key stop in the 4th quarter, while Pittsburgh was protecting a 24-19 lead: With the Rams driving deep into scoring range, he intercepted L.A. QB Vince Ferragamo to stop the threat. It was the only Rams TO of the game.
If Lambert had more tackles or even a sack to add to his stat sheet, perhaps we’d be more inclined to go with him, but Harris’ two scores were huge: He scored the first and final TDs for the Steelers, and Harris just did whatever was asked of him in this game as the real star of the Pittsburgh offense. He gets our nod here in a little bit of poetic justice for us stripping him of the award in Super Bowl IX.
1979 NFL ROTY: Ottis Anderson, RB, St. Louis & Jim Haslett, LB, Buffalo (original); Jesse Baker, DE, Houston (revised)
For the rookie crowd, the award winners were St. Louis Cardinals RB Ottis Anderson (1,913 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs) and Buffalo Bills LB Jim Haslett (2 INTs, 1 sack). Both played for losing squads, though, so we are going to look elsewhere to see who else is worthy. And who stands out to us is Houston Oilers defensive end Jesse Baker and his 15.5 sacks for an 11-win playoff squad.
The Oilers had the second-best record in the NFL, although they finished 1 game behind the Steelers in the AFC Central. Baker was a major reason the Oilers went from a minus-15 point differential in 1978 to a plus-31 scoring margin in 1979. No other rookie totaled more than 8 sacks on the year, leaving us with a “Baker” for the second year in a row here (no relation).
Check in every Thursday for our NFL awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!