January 20, 1980. Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena California. Nearly 104,985 fans gathered to watch an epic battle between the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV. Fans who watched from home heard a game called by Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier. John Madden did the pregame, which went so well, at least in the eyes of CBS executives, that he became a lead game analyst shortly thereafter. This was also the Super Bowl of that iconic Mean Joe Green Coke commercial.
The Rams had one of the words regular season records going into the Super Bowl at 9-7 and faced a crisis at quarterback as their starter Pat Haden was lost to injury and backup Vince Ferragamo struggled through the end of the season completing less than 50 percent of his passes and throwing interceptions twice as often as touchdowns.
Just like today's Rams, the Rams of the 1979 season was characterized by a strong defense led by Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds, Jim Youngblood, and Jack Youngblood. Though their offense was disastrous, this was the 1970's when defense mattered. A lot. How good was the Rams defensive unit that year? They held the Seattle Seahawks to minus seven yards for their match up in November before the Super Bowl.
Though the Steelers ended up winning with a score of 31-19, the game got off to a rocky start for the Black and Gold. Despite some successful plays by Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, and Lynn Swann, the underdog Rams led 13-10 at halftime. Jack Lambert remarked, "We just knew were weren't playing with the usual Steeler intensity. We had to change that."
The change didn't happen immediately. The third quarter was also rough for the Steelers with Lynn Swann leaving the game injured and the Rams still putting up a valiant fight. The tide turned in the fourth quarter, the Rams still leading 19-17, after Bradshaw connected with John Stallworth for a 73-yard touchdown. A last-quarter interception by Jack Lambert secured the victory for the Black and Gold.
When all was said and done, Bradshaw had thrown for 309 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, and the Pittsburgh Steelers had won a hard-fought Super Bowl victory, their fourth in six years.