Let's Learn From the Past: Super Bowl IX
Thursday, September 09, 2010
By Jessica Silay, History Center communications designer/editor
The Steelers emphatically proved that "defense wins championships" with their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, Jan. 12, 1975, in New Orleans.
Super Bowl IX pitted two of the NFL's most legendary -- and well nicknamed -- defenses in a hard-fought, defensive struggle.
In the first half, Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" defense held the Minnesota offense to zero yards rushing, while the Viking "Purple People Eaters" defense limited the Steelers' high-powered offense to just 15 passing yards and four first downs.
The half's only points came midway through the second quarter, when Steelers defensive end Dwight White, who was playing the game with a temperature of 103 degrees, downed Viking quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the end zone for a safety -- the first safety in a Super Bowl.
A low-scoring game was expected, but the Steelers 2-0 lead remains the lowest halftime score in Super Bowl history.
The defensive trend continued in the second half.
The Steelers forced and recovered a Viking fumble on the half's opening kickoff. Three plays later, second-year running back Franco Harris scored on a 9-yard touchdown, the only points of the third quarter.
The Vikings got on the board in the fourth quarter with a blocked punt in the Steelers end zone -- but missed the extra point -- cutting the lead to 9-6.
The Steelers then put the game out of reach with an 11-play, 66-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock, resulting in a Terry Bradshaw touchdown pass to tight end Larry Brown.
After suffering many losing seasons, the Steelers finally won the franchise's first Super Bowl championship with a final score of 16-6.
Two years removed from his famous "Immaculate Reception," Harris scored a touchdown and gained 158 yards rushing, earning the game's Most Valuable Player -- the first African-American to merit the honor.
Don't miss your chance to see all six Steelers' Super Bowl trophies at the Senator John Heinz History Center through Sept. 15.
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