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Pittsburgh Steelers March Madness: The Best of the Rest featuring No. 8 seed 1976 vs. No. 9 seed 1973

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Bracketing the best teams in the past 50 years of Pittsburgh Steelers history never to win a title. Who do you consider the “Best of the Rest” between the 1973 Steelers and the 1976 version?

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Colts

BTSC continues to search for the best and most-memorable Steeler team to not win a title. Last time around, you voted the oh-so close 1995 team over the 2011 team that got Tebowed in OT in Denver. ‘95 advances on to the second round. Here are the final tallies...

No. 7 - 2011 Getting Tebowed in the end - 16%

No. 10 - 1995 More than one Big Nasty D - 84%

This time around we match a Pre-Super Bowl team that inspired a best-seller against a potential three-peater that lost their running game before the Conference Finals. Be sure to vote for the team that remains the most memorable to you or the one you feel is simply the “best of the rest”. Your choice. Be sure to wax poetically in the comment section below.


No. 8 Seed: 1976 (10-4)

After winning their first two titles the previous two seasons, it seemed likely that the Steelers could three-peat as an even stronger unit. However, Chuck Noll’s team shockingly started off as a disappointing 1-4. To make matters worse, QB Terry Bradshaw was injured in a Week 5 loss in Cleveland. Bradshaw sustained the injury after the infamous Joe “Turkey” Jones slamdown. Fortunes would turn with Mike Kruczek behind center, as the rookie set a NFL record (later broken by Ben Roethlisberger in 2004) for wins to start a career. Bradshaw would return intermittently throughout the remainder of the season, but most of the Steelers success was due to a suffocating defense (five shutouts and a mere 28 points surrendered in those final nine games) and the rushing tandem of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. Harris (1,128 yards/14 TDs and Bleier (1,026 yards/5 TDs) were basically the entire offense, as the leading receiver (Lynn Swann) had a mere 516 yards and three scores. On a defense that included five All Pros, Mel Blount and Glen Edwards led with six interceptions a piece and Jack Lambert had two picks and six fumble recoveries. In the playoffs, the Steelers pounded Baltimore 40-14. Bradshaw threw three TD passes, two of them to Swann and Reggie Harrison had two rushing scores. Harrison was in due to injuries in the game to Harris and Bleier. Unfortunately, No. 46 and the Steelers weren’t as productive without the pair of 1K rushers the next week in the AFC Championship against Oakland. The Raiders went on to play Minnesota in SB XI, while Steeler Nation saw one of their best teams in franchise history wonder what might have been.

Pro Bowlers: Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Glen Edwards, Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell, Lynn Swann and Mike Wagner

First-Team All Pros: Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Glen Edwards

Second-Team All Pros: Joe Greene and Mike Wagner

Team MVP: Jack Lambert

No. 1 Draft Pick: Bennie Cunningham


No. 9 Seed: 1973 (10-4)

The season after the Immaculate Reception inspired a best selling book by Roy Blount Jr. (No relation to Mel and Akil). About Three Bricks Shy of a Load chronicled the Steelers for an entire year. The ‘73 team failed to live up to the new-found glory of the division champions of a year earlier, but they still made the playoffs as a Wild Card. Terry Bradshaw (9 of 10), Terry Hanratty (4 of 9) and Joe Gilliam (1 of 5) all started contests that season. Leading the way was Franco Harris, whose stats fell off from his rookie year with 698 yards and three TDs, and WR Ron Shanklin who had 711 yards receiving and 10 TDs. The Steelers pass defense may have been their all-time best with 37 interceptions and 11 TDs allowed in 14 games. Mike Wagner (NFL co-leader with interceptions that year) had eight picks, while John Rowser and Glen Edwards each had six. The Steelers won their first four games that season and eight of their first nine, but faltered down the stretch by losing three of their final five. In the playoffs, they were eliminated right away by the Raiders. However, this season helped set up the glory that began the following year in Super Bowl IX.

Pro Bowlers: Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Andy Russell, Ronnie Shanklin, Bruce Van Dyke and Dwight White

First-Team All Pros: Joe Greene

Second-Team All Pros: Roy Gerela and Jack Ham

Team MVP: Ronnie Shanklin

No. 1 Draft Pick: J.T. Thomas


Poll

Which Steeler team not to win the Super Bowl do you consider the best or most memorable? Your choice.

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    No. 8 Seed: 1976 - The Steel Curtain Defense at their highest level
    (252 votes)
  • 2%
    No. 9 Seed: 1973 - About three bricks shy of a load
    (7 votes)
259 votes total Vote Now

Check back Wednesday for the results and the beginning of Round 2.