"The single most important thing we had in the Steelers of the 70's was the ability to work together."
Chuck Noll's quote about his '70s Steelers was never more true than in his teams' four Super Bowls. In each phase of the game, the Steelers made critical plays in those games to ensure their success en route to becoming the Team of All Decades. Below is a chronological order of the Top-10 underrated Steelers plays from Super Bowls IX, X, XIII and XIV.
1) Super Bowl IX: Dwight White's safety breaks scoreless first half
"We humored him (in warmups), not thinking he was actually going to play in the game."
Joe Greene's reservations regarding teammate Dwight White before Super Bowl IX were warranted. White had been hospital stricken with pneumonia and had lost nearly 20 pounds after a night out on Bourbon Street, eating seafood with Greene and fellow defensive linemen L.C. Greenwood and Ernie Holmes. Not only did White play, he started and spent the day harassing the Vikings' offensive line as Minnesota gained just 119 yards on the afternoon that included a miniscule 17 yards rushing.
Super Bowl IX started off sloppy, with the teams collaborating to miss three field goals in the game's first 17 minutes. With the offenses at a standstill, White and the Steelers defense made the key play in getting things started.
With the ball pinned back inside their 10, White chased down Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton after Minnesota fumbled the hand-off exchange. Not taking any chances, Tarkenton fell on the ball one yard into the end zone. Not far behind was White, who tagged Tarkenton to record the first safety in Super Bowl history. More importantly, it gave the Steelers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
2) Super Bowl IX: Glen Edward's vicious hit secured halftime lead
Joe Greene loves the story about Glen Edwards minutes before the start of Super Bowl IX.
I've heard Greene tell the story multiple times over the years when reflecting on his favorite moments from the Super Bowls. The story goes that Edwards had seen an old college teammate, now with the Vikings, beside him before the teams ran out to be introduced to the Tulane Stadium crowd and the NBC national audience. "In his southern drawl (Greene's words)", Edwards kept referring to him old teammate as "Bub" while trying to wish him well before the game. Edwards' well wishes fell on deaf ears, as his old teammate disregarded Edwards by ignoring his old teammate's presence. Edwards then walked to his old friend, stared at him straight in the eye, and said: "OK then. Buckle up."
While Minnesota receiver John Gilliam wasn't his old college teammate, he took the brunt of Edwards anger.
Bullied by the Steelers defense the entire day, the Vikings did put together one promising drive, and it took place near the end of the second quarter. With the ball on Pittsburgh's 25, Tarkengton found Gilliam open just outside the end zone. But Edwards saw Gilliam, too, and launched himself into Gilliam, knocking him to the ground and jarring the football into the sky and into the arms of Mel Blount. Edwards' hit-which surely would have been a 15-yard penalty today for hitting a defenseless receiver- had not only killed the Vikings' best chance to score, but he had sent a message that the Steelers defense was just as physical as it was intimidating.
With game MVP Franco Harris anchoring the offense with 158 yards rushing, Edwards, Greene, White, and the rest of the Steel Curtain would continue to stonewall the Vikings offense in the second half, as the only points scored by Minnesota came off a blocked punt. Pittsburgh prevailed 16-6, setting in motion the most successful six-year run in NFL history.