Steelers featured on NFL Network

Al Bello

The only NFL franchise with six Super Bowl trophies is featured this week on NFL Network.

If any new Steelers fans out there need a former education on the franchise, NFL Network has you covered.

The network is featuring the Steelers for its "Dynasty Week." The Steelers week began Monday and will continue through this Sunday.

NFL Network spent Monday with shows dedicated to the first two Steelers Super Bowl championship teams. Super Bowl IX and X highlights were sandwiched between "America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions" documentaries on the 1974 and '75 squads.

The hallowed voice of NFL Films narrator John Facenda could be heard on the network throughout the day, his words blending with NFL Films' iconic music and slow motion scenes of the Steelers biggest plays in their first two Super Bowl triumphs. Having been born five years after their last Super Bowl win of the '70s, these highlights films helped me and other Steelers fans born after 1980  understand and appreciate those great teams. The films stand as a great testament to the late and great Steve Sabol and his father, Ed.

Some of the highlights from the day: Joe Greene talking about the speech Chuck Noll gave to the team the Tuesday prior to the 1974 AFC Championship. Despite their 32-14 thumping over the Bills in the divisional round two days prior, the media overlooked the Steelers and dubbed the Raiders and Dolphins playoff game "Super Bowl VIII 1/2." After the Raiders dethroned Miami, Oakland coach John Madden said that when the best two teams in the NFL play, great games like that happen.

Needless to say, Noll didn't appreciate that comment, and on the following Tuesday, he used Madden's words as fuel to light the Steelers fire.

Meeting with the Steelers just five days before the biggest game of their lives to that point, the normally stoic Noll gave the speech Joe Greene always wanted to hear.

"The Super Bowl wasn't played this past Sunday," Noll said. "And the best two teams didn't play in that game. The best team in the National Football League is right here in this room."

As linebacker Andy Russell said: "Joe was sitting in this little desk, and he rose up and nearly knocked the desk over as soon as Chuck made that statement. He was ready to play right then."

"It was out of character for him to say something like that," Greene said. "But it was exactly what we needed."

On a day where Greene said he and the entire team "visited the zone", Pittsburgh defeated the Raiders 24-13 en route to their first Super Bowl.

In that game, defensive back Glen Edwards delivered a hit so devastating it would surely draw several penalties today. Near the end of the first half of Super Bowl IX, Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton fired a pass intended for Joe Gilliam near the Steelers end zone. Just as Gilliam's fingers grasped the ball, Edwards leveled him, deflecting the ball into the air and into the hands of Mel Blount. The Steelers preserved the lead and won their first-ever Super Bowl, 16-6.

Linemen Dwight White was the team's unsung hero that day. Sick and in the hospital the week prior, White- who was 20 pounds under his normal playing weight-recorded the first safety in Super Bowl history that also served as that game's first points.

The following year, linebacker Jack Lambert and safety Mike Wagner used brute force and superior intelligence to defeat Dallas in Super Bowl X. After missing his third field goal, kicker Roy Gerella was harassed by Dallas defensive back Cliff Harris. Lambert quickly came to his teammates aid, throwing Harris to the ground (no flag was thrown) and later saying: "We're the Pittsburgh Steelers. We're supposed to be the intimidators." Lambert followed up his actions by tallying 14 tackles.

After surrendering a touchdown in the first quarter-the the only first quarter touchdown allowed by the Steelers all year-Wagner picked off Cowboys quarter Roger Staubach when Dallas tried the same play late in the game. The play led to Gerella stretching the Steelers lead to 15-10.

"It was our bread and butter play all season long," Staubach said after the game. "It was the only time it didn't work."

Just minutes later, Terry Bradshaw launched the game-winning, 61-yard touchdown pass to game MVP Lynn Swann despite being clubbed in the head by  Cowboys linemen Larry Cole. Bradshaw left the game with a concussion, but as Facenda said, "he left a hero." The Steelers held off a gallant Cowboys comeback to win, 21-17.

The Steelers and Cowboys classic rematch in Super Bowl XIII will air today on the Network, with the '78 Steelers America's Game airing as well. "Sound FX: Mike Tomlin" and Ike Taylor selecting his "All-Time Steelers Team" are also on the network's docket for Tuesday.

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