Repeating as champion is one of the hardest things to accomplish in sports.
Defeating the same team twice for a title is nearly impossible.
That's exactly what the 1970s Steelers did en route to becoming the team of the decade (or any decade, for that matter). After winning Super Bowl IX over the Vikings, the Steelers faced the Cowboys in Super Bowl X. Despite excessive trash talking before and during the game by Cowboys safety Cliff Harris, the Steelers used seven sacks, three interceptions, 14 Jack Lambert tackles, and four catches for 161 yards by Lynn Swann to defeat Dallas 21-17 in what was at the time the best Super Bowl ever.
The two teams returned to Miami three years later for the first-ever Super Bowl rematch. The stakes were much higher this time that in the previous meeting: the title of team of the decade hung in the balance. The defending Super Bowl champion, the Cowboys bravado was at an all-time high. Thomas "Holleywood" Henderson mocked Terry Bradshaw's intelligence, and backed up his talk by forcing a Bradshaw fumble that led to a Dallas touchdown early in the second quarter.
But Brad and the Steelers would have the last laugh. In what is still regarded as one of the finest Super Bowls ever played, Bradshaw led a passing parade that overwhelmed the "Doomsday" defense. Bradshaw threw for a then-record 318 yards to go with a then-Super Bowl record four touchdown passes. John Stallworth, Rocky Bleier and Lynn Swann each pulled in touchdowns, while Franco Harris busted through Dallas' defense for a 22-yard scoring jaunt in the fourth quarter. With a 35-17 lead late, the Steelers withstood a furious Cowboys comeback bid to hang on by the score of 35-31 (at that time the highest scoring Super Bowl ever).The Steelers won, and forever earned the title of "Team of the 70's". The Steelers added the exclamation point to their dynasty a year later with a 31-19 win over the Rams in Super Bowl XIV. With the win, the Steelers became the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls two different times.
With this being "70's Week" on NFL Network, Super Bowl XIII was played in its entirety on the network yesterday. It seemed ironic that the first Super Bowl rematch would be replayed the same day as the most pivotal game in the first NBA Finals rematch in 16 years. The reigning champion Heat last night learned how hard it is to defeat the same team twice, getting whitewashed by the Spurs for the second consecutive game.
The Spurs last night showed the same qualities the 70's Steelers showed: grit, determination, and big plays from each player that knows and executes their role. Both teams also displayed great leaders in Joe Greene and Tim Duncan, consummate professionals that place winning above personal accolades.
But even Duncan and the great Spurs have never won back-to-back championships. It's a rare thing to achieve in sports, with only three franchises in the four professional sports having won consecutive championships this decade. These facts only make what the Steelers did that much more impressive. No matter how much time as passed, the accomplishments of the 1970s Steelers have not only remained unmatched, they seem even more remarkable with each passing day.