SB XIII: Cowboys Fall to Steelers in a Classic

85726878.jpgThis post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

During a decade in which the Cowboys won two Super Bowls and five NFC titles, the most famous game in which they played during the 1970s was Super Bowl XIII.

This game was the first rematch in Super Bowl history, and it was a game where momentum shifted significantly. The Steelers jumped out early, but Dallas was able to capture the lead on a long touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Tony Hill, followed by a Mike Hegman fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Three plays after Hegman’s touchdown, though, Pittsburgh tied the game when Dallas cornerback Aaron Kyle could not bring down John Stallworth, who scored on a 75-yard touchdown. When Rocky Bleier leaped to grab a Terry Bradshaw pass on the side of the end zone, the Steelers grabbed a 21-14 halftime lead.

Most of us remember the second half for three plays: (1) Jackie Smith dropping a sure touchdown pass in the third quarter on a play that would have tied the game at 21; (2) field judge Fred Swearingen calling pass intereference, giving the Steelers the ball on the Dallas 23; and (3) Randy White fumbling a kickoff after Pittsburgh had taken a 28-17 lead, followed one play later by a touchdown pass from Bradshaw to Lynn Swann.

The Cowboys did not give up, much to their credit. Staubach threw two touchdown passes  in the final seven minutes, cutting the Steeler lead to 35-31. However, when Bleier recovered an onside kick attempt by Rafael Septien, the game was over.

Here is a clip of the last few seconds of the game:

Super Bowl XIII (DMN)

Box Score

USA Today: Play by Play

  • Tim Truemper

    A little quibble–halftime score was 21-14. The FG after Jackie Smith’s drop which made it 21-17.

    The entire game, in sections, is available on YouTube.

    Another unfortunate moment to go along with the others Matt cited was when Franco Harris bolted for his TD run of 20+ yards–the referee blocked Charlie Waters from making the tackle!

  • I remember screaming at the ref when he got in the way, but the refs are “part of the field” so there was nothing we could do.

  • Thanks for sharing. The slogan on the one waffle is killing me.

  • I was actually surprised Terry Bradshaw was the MVP of that Super Bowl. He turned over the ball 3 times in the first half. Im a big time Steelers fan and thought Stallworth should have been the MVP.

  • Mike Little

    Turnovers,poor tackling,horrific officiating,and a legendary coach who outsmarted himself by his own playcalling could overcome everyone in the leauge except one,Terry Bradshaw and the Steelers.I give them the respect because they earned it.You don’t win four of those trophys by accident.Terry and the Steelers were the champions,because they did what my Cowboys didn’t.Elimanate and overcome and take advantage of the other teams mistakes,or misfortune.This game still hurts 30 years later,not just because of the loss ,but the way it was lost.People may disagree,but Dallas had the better team in this rematch.I remember Dorsett and the offensive line running very well,and Roger throwing well with nice protection.The pros & cons to Coach Landry’s game plan was Dallas was beating Pittsburgh staight up man to man.The Cowboys had the team to take it right at them without the Landry razzle dazzle.Kind of the mentality,if it’s not broke don’t fix it.Unfortunatley,it didn’t work that way.I’ve heard Staubach comment on the unneccessary smoke & mirrors that weren’t needed.Could the game still have tilted in Dallas favor if Jackie Smith catches to make it 21-21 in the third?Do the Cowboys win if Fred Swerigen makes no call from THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FIELD?Those two scenarios alone make at least a 7 to 11 point swing.I still go back to keep it simple and Dallas wins.Those of us that go back it ranks up there with the Ice Bowl and the ’81 San Fran game.Painful also because Dallas would have been the team of the 70’s.Next year please.

  • Tim Truemper

    I like Mike Little’s analysis. Sometimes I thought the playcalling was a bit too cute. In one of the early drives of this game, Dallas was moving the ball and then Landry called a reverse that lost big yardage and killed the drive.

    I would think that at times the misdirection and “trickery” were done to keep teams off-balance enough so the more basic plays would work. But I think Dallas showed in the trenches in this game, insofar as the running game stats show, Dallas could have won and the “rest would be history” as it is often said.