Despite being the underdogs,
the Rams managed to hang on to a 13–10
lead at halftime, and a 19–17 lead at the beginning of the
fourth quarter. But the Steelers held the Rams scoreless in the fourth
quarter and scored two touchdowns for the win. Despite the game's
uneven matchup and a final score, this game is regarded by some as
one of the most competitive games in Super Bowl history. Overall,
the lead changed 7 times between both teams, a Super Bowl record;
the Rams took the lead 3 times while the Steelers took it 4 times.
The Rams took the opening kickoff but the Steel
to force a three-and-out. Then on the Steelers' 7th play of their
first possession, quarterback Terry Bradshaw completed a
32-yard pass to running back Franco Harris to reach the Los Angeles
26-yard line. But a third down pass fell incomplete, forcing Pittsburgh
to settle for a 41-yard field goal from rookie kicker Matt Bahr.
Bahr's ensuing kickoff was very short, giving the Rams great field
position at their 41-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Los
Angeles running back Wendell Tyler caught a 6-yard pass from Vince
Ferragamo. Then on the next play, Tyler took a handoff, ran left,
broke some tackles, and ran 39 yards to the Steelers 14-yard line
before he was finally dragged down by Pittsburgh defensive back Donnie
Shell, the longest run against the Steelers all season. 6 plays later,
fullback Cullen Bryant scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the
Rams a 7–3 lead.
But the lead did not last long. Pittsburgh defensive back Larry
Anderson returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to his own 47-yard
line, and then the Steelers marched 53 yards in 9 plays using every
offensive weapon in their arsenal. First, Harris ran for 12 yards,
fullback Rocky Bleier ran for 1, then tight end Bennie Cunningham
caught a pass for 8. Bleier ran again for 2, followed by Bradshaw's
18-yard completion to receiver Lynn Swann on the last play of the
first quarter. The second period opened with Bradshaw's 13-yard completion
to Cunningham to reach the Los Angeles 5-yard line, and then Harris
ran through the middle to the 4. Wide receiver John
then stopped at the 1-yard line, but then Harris ran to the right
untouched and scored a touchdown on the next play, giving the Steelers
a 10-7 lead.
But like the Rams' previous lead, the Steelers lead also turned
out to be short-lived. Aided by a 20-yard pass interference penalty
against Shell, Los Angeles advanced 67 yards in 10 plays to score
on 31-yard field goal from kicker Frank Corral to tie the game. Anderson
gave the Steelers great field position after returning the ensuing
kickoff 38 yards to the Pittsburgh 46-yard line, but the Steelers
could not move the ball and had to punt. The Rams were also forced
to punt on their next possession after only gaining 6-yards. But
on the first play of the Steelers' next drive, Los Angeles defensive
back Dave Elmendorf intercepted a pass from Bradshaw and returned
it 10 yards to Pittsburgh's 39-yard line.
On the first 2 plays after the turnover, Ferragamo was sacked for
a 10-yard loss and threw an incomplete pass. But he managed to overcome
the situation with a 12-yard completion to Bryant on third down and
a 10-yard completion to receiver Billy Waddy on 4th down and 8. Ferragamo's
next pass was complete to tight end Terry Nelson for a first down
at the 13-yard line, but after throwing 2 incompletions, Pittsburgh
lineman John Banaszak sacked Ferragamo on third down. However, Corral
kicked a 45-yard field goal to give the Rams a 13-10 halftime lead.
Many observers were surprised that the heavily favored Steelers
trailed at the end of the half. "How can you mess up this way?" Steelers
assistant coach Woody Widenhofer asked his team at halftime. "Didn't
we go over these things a dozen times? You guys are standing out
there like statues."
Anderson once again gave the Steelers great starting field position,
returning the opening kickoff of the second half 37 yards to the
Pittsburgh 39-yard line. The Steelers lulled the Rams defense by
running the ball on three consecutive plays of the drive, and then
Bradshaw burned them with a 47-yard touchdown completion to Swann,
who made a leaping catch at the Los Angeles' 2-yard line and tumbled
into the end zone, to give Pittsburgh a 17-13 lead.
But they didn't hold it. After starting the ensuing drive with 2
running plays, Ferragamo completed a 50-yard pass to Waddy. Then
on the next play, Ferragamo handed the ball off to running back Lawrence
McCutcheon who started to run to the right. The Steelers defense
came up to tackle him behind the line of scrimmage, only to watch
him throw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Ron Smith. Corral missed the
extra point attempt, but the Rams had retaken the lead, 19-17.
The Steelers had some success advancing into Rams territory on their
next 2 possessions only to see the Rams intercept the ball both times.
First, Rams free safety Eddie Brown stopped the ensuing Steelers
drive with an interception, lateraling to Pat Thomas to gain an additional
two yards. Then after a punt, Pittsburgh drove all the way to the
Rams 16-yard line, but Los Angeles defensive back Rod Perry intercepted
a pass intended for Stallworth. Thus, the third quarter ended with
the Rams still in the lead, 19-17, seemingly in control of the game.
Worse yet, Pittsburgh lost Lynn Swann to injury.
With 12:59 left in the game, Rams punter Ken Clark's 59-yard punt
planted Pittsburgh back on their own 25-yard line. Then faced with
3rd down and 8, Bradshaw took the snap, faked a handoff, and then
threw a pass to Stallworth, who was running a streak pattern down
the middle of the field. Stallworth caught the ball without breaking
stride and took it all the way to the end zone for a 73-yard go-ahead
touchdown to make the score 24-19 for the Steelers. The NFL Films
highlight film notes that safety Eddie Brown was supposed to help
Rod Perry in covering Stallworth, but for some reason Brown ignored
the Steeler receiver. On the ensuing kickoff, the Rams tried a reverse
on the kickoff which resulted in poor field position.
After an exchange of punts, the Rams mounted one final, spirited
drive to regain the lead. Ferragamo smartly moved the Rams down the
field, completing 3 or 4 passes around runs by Tyler. His 15-yard
completion to Billy Waddy on 3rd and 13 moved the Rams to the Pittsburgh
32-yard line with just under 6 minutes remaining. However, on the
following play, Ferragamo made his first, and only mistake of the
game. Despite the fact that Waddy had broken free down the right
side of the field, Ferragamo had zeroed in on Preston Dennard down
the middle of the field, but he didn't notice Pittsburgh linebacker
Jack Lambert playing behind Dennard. As Ferragamo released the ball,
Lambert jumped in front of Dennard and intercepted the pass with
When faced with a 3rd down and 7 on their ensuing drive, Bradshaw
once again made a crucial long pass completion to Stallworth, this
time a 45-yard reception to the Rams 22-yard line. Two plays later,
a pass interference penalty on Los Angeles cornerback Pat Thomas
in the end zone gave the Steelers a first down at the 1-yard line.
The Rams managed to keep Bleier and Harris out of the end zone for
2 plays, but Harris then scored on a third down, 1-yard touchdown
run to give the Steelers a 31-19 lead and put the game away. The
Rams responded by driving to Pittsburgh's 37-yard line, but ended
up turning over the ball on downs with 39 seconds left in the game,
and the Steelers ran out the clock for the win.
This was the third time in Super Bowl history that a team overcame
a deficit entering the fourth quarter to win the game. The Baltimore
Colts entered the final quarter down 13-6 against Dallas in Super
Bowl V and won the game 16-13. The Pittsburgh Steelers started the
final period against Dallas in Super Bowl X down 10-7 and eventually
won the game 21-17. The lead had changed hands seven times, a Super
Bowl record to this day. Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth
became the fourth, fifth and sixth players to score touchdowns in
back-to-back Super Bowls, respectively.
Ferragamo finished the game with 15 out of 25 completions for 212
yards, with 1 interception. Tyler was the top rusher of the game
with 60 yards, and caught 2 passes for 20 yards. Waddy was the Rams
leading receiver with 3 catches for 75 yards. Harris led the Steelers
in rushing with 44 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also catching 3
passes for 66 yards. Stallworth was the top receiver of the game
with 3 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown, an average of 40.3
yards per catch. Swann had 5 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Larry Anderson set a Super Bowl record with 162 yards from his 5
Super Bowl XIV Statistics
PIT - FG: Matt Bahr 41 yards. 3-0 PIT
LA - TD: Cullen Bryant 1 yard run. 7-3 LA
PIT - TD: Franco Harris 1 yard run. 10-7 PIT
LA - FG: Frank Corral 31 yards. 10-10 tie
LA - FG: Frank Corral 45 yards. 13-10 LA
PIT - TD: Lynn Swann 47 yard pass from Terry Bradshaw. 17-13
LA - TD: Ron Smith 24 yard pass from Lawrence McCutcheon. 19-17
PIT - TD: John Stallworth 73 yard pass from Terry Bradshaw.
PIT - TD: Franco Harris 1 yard run (Matt Bahr kick) 31-19 PIT
Pittsburgh Steelers - 31
Los Angeles Rams - 19
Super Bowl XIV MVP Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh
Despite throwing three interceptions, Steelers quarterback Terry
Bradshaw was named the game's MVP by completing 14 of 21 passes for
309 yards and two touchdowns.