A look at the Steelers' first Super Bowl
A weekly glance at the 1974 season, the first time the Steelers went on to lift the Lombardi Trophy:
Changing of the guard
Coming off an Elite 8 appearance and 25-win season, Pitt struggled without Billy Knight and got off to a 1-3 start for the 1974-75 season under Buzz Ridl, who was coaching his final season for the Panthers. After a season-opening win, Pitt was beaten by West Virginia, Duquesne and Penn State, the latter two losses coming in the Steel Bowl. The Panthers, led by Kirk Bruce, Mel Bennett, Keith Starr and freshman Larry Harris, would rebound and finish 18-11. Duquesne, under first-year coach John Cinicola, would finish 14-11 behind sophomore guard Norm Nixon.
The World is changing
The World Football League completed its first season, with the Birmingham Americans defeating the Florida Blazers, 22-21, in the World Bowl. The WFL raided NFL rosters, and Miami Dolphins stars Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield were among the most prominent defectors. However, the 12-team league lost two members during the season and several other teams relocated midseason as financial problems plagued the upstart league, which folded midway through the '75 campaign. Among the WFL's innovations: touchdowns were worth 7 points, and conversions were called an "action point" and only could be scored by a run or pass from the 5-yard line. The WFL also was the first league to have kickoffs from the 30-yard line, a Thursday night national TV game and no fair catches on punt returns.
This week in 1974:
• Tony Orlando and Dawn were given a variety show on CBS
• "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas spent its first week atop the pop music charts
• Former President Richard Nixon was deemed to ill to testify at the Watergate coverup trial
• The Dow index topped 570 points
What the Steelers did ...
The Steelers clinched the division title and third consecutive playoff berth with a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots, giving them one game to tinker before the postseason and rendering the finale against Cincinnati meaningless. Franco Harris gained 136 yards on 29 carries and scored a touchdown, Roy Gerela kicked two field goals and L.C. Greenwood sacked Patriots quarterback Jim Plunkett in the end zone for a safety. New England was led by Mack Herron's two touchdowns. Terry Bradshaw completed 10 of 16 passes for 86 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
AFC CENTRAL STANDINGS
Through Dec. 8, 1974
Team: W-L-T — PF-PA
Steelers: 9-3-1 — 288-186
Bengals: 7-6-0 — 280-228
Oilers: 6-7-0 — 208-258
Browns: 4-9-0 — 227-314