´ Steel Curtain Rising: Watch the Steelers vs. the Raiders in the 1975 AFC Championship

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Watch the Steelers vs. the Raiders in the 1975 AFC Championship

Missed seeing Bradshaw, Lambert, Franco, Greene, Swann, Blount and Stallworth in their primes?
(Scroll down for the video.)

Fortunately those you too young to remember or those who remember but were too young to appreciate get a second chance thanks to Dan Gigler’s Blog ‘n Gold over at the Post Gazette.

Gigler’s Blog and Gold, long a supporter of this site, is a veritable trove of treasures from Steelers Nation. Dan’s schedule for updating the site is irregular, but when he does update it he always delivers.

This time he’s out done himself by securing a copy of the 1975 AFC Championship game between the Steelers and the Raiders.
You can watch a commercial free, edited version of the game here (available as of 6/17/12):


Folks, this has been up since October 2011 but its unlikely the NFL’s lawyers will allow YouTube to keep this up for much longer. So watch it while you can, it’s a good investment of an hour.

Steelers vs. the Raiders – a Legendary Feud that Defined a Decade

The Patriots and Colts of the ‘00’s can have their rivalry. Compared to the Steelers vs. the Raiders, theirs is a high school popularity between opposing pretty boys who fear dirtying their hands.
  • The Steelers and the Raiders fought a grown up fight. And they played for keeps.
No one ever uttered the words “criminal element” following a Patriots-Colts match up.

This game featured the first of several illegal George Atkinson close line tackles of Lynn Swann  that prompted Chuck Noll to level the "criminal element" charge.
  • The Steelers and Raiders dueled in many an epic battle in the ‘70’s but this game perhaps more than any other defines the rivalry.
Winter is bitterly cold in Pittsburgh and the Steelers had tarpped and heated the surface of Three Rivers Stadium the night before the game. But winds whipped in off of Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio tore open the tarp, creating slick spots throughout the field, but especially on the sidelines.

Al Davis had (allegedly) watered down the field in Oakland to give his slower running backs an advantage. Davis reflexively assumed that all NFL owners were as unscrupulous as he, and accused Dan Rooney of intentionally icing down the field to stifle his sideline passing game.

The Californian Davis failed to realize this game was simply played as January football is meant to be played: in an open air stadium in single-digit temperatures in front of over 50,000 rabid fans.

Both Ken Stabler and Terry Bradshaw made some impressive throws to give Dave Casper and John Stallworth breakout moments.
  • But defense defined this game.   
Monte Johnson and Jack Tatum notched three interceptions for the Raiders, while Mike Wagner had two picks, including one that was downright Troy Polamaluesque. 

Chuck Noll declared that the game featured some of the hardest hitting he had ever seen. He was right, there were 9 fumbles in this game, including three recovered by Jack Lambert.

Breaking Down the 1975 AFC Championship Game, the Steelers vs. the Raiders

While the editing on this video does make for some disjointed viewing at times, watching the raw, NBC footage allows you to enjoy the flavor of the moment in a way that NFL Films, for however much they’ve immortalized key moments in the game, misses.

Seeing the original Steel Curtain Joe Greene, Dwight White, Ernie Holmes and L.C. Greenwood play snap-by-snap in front of greats such as  Jack Ham, Andy Russell and Mel Blount lets you understand just how great they were.

It gives you a chance to appreciate things that don’t show up on the stat sheet nor make it into highlight reels, such as the way the RayMansfield, Mike Webster, and Sammy Davis kept Terry Bradshaw clean.
  • The video also offers some important reminders. Yes, the Hall of Fame contingent of the Super Steelers made them great, but they were only a necessary, and not a sufficient element in the Championship runs.
Watch the AFC Championship game video and you’ll see players like J.T. Thomas and Glen Edwards make fumble forcing hits or guys like Larry Brown and Frank Lewis coming up with key hits.
  • It’s also good to see guys like Franco Harris get stuffed, repeatedly by the Raiders defense.
That might sound strange, but it’s true. Franco had a hard day against the Raiders and his partly 79 yards on 27 carries shows that.

For most of the day, John Madden’s defense left nowhere for Franco to run. Nowhere at all until he ripped off 25 yard burst that ended in the end zone with Pittsburgh clinging to a 3-0 lead early in the 4th quarter.

Seeing Franco struggle then soar underscores the oft forgotten fact that the Super Steelers weren’t gods – instead they great athletes blessed with the On the Field Presence necessary to step it up and make plays when the game was on the line.

Enjoy.

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1 comment:

Barry Corrigan said...

This was the game where Dave Casper made a statement. That he was the missing ingredient Oakland needed to finally beat the Steelers. He made brilliant catches in traffic against Lambert in particular. The Raiders would beat the Steelers three straight times in 1976-77.'
Casper had his first start in the opening game of 1976 vs the Steelers. He shredded them for 7 catches for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. Without penalties it could easily have instead been 10 catches for nearly 200 yards.