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Steelers Film Room Throwback Thursday: 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers vs 1990s Dallas Cowboys

We bring you some rare footage of a dream matchup posed by ESPN between two great dynasties.

As the world approached the turn of the millennium, many concerns swept across the United States on questions that needed to be answered before the world entered the 2000's; such as:

  • What is Y2K, and why should we care about it?
  • Who is going to win the 2000 presidential general election?
But the most important question to be answered was:
  • What was the greatest NFL dynasty of all time?
To resolve this debate, ESPN took to their technology of the late 1990's and created simulations that would put the four greatest NFL dynasties of the Super Bowl era against each other in a tournament which ESPN would dub, "the Millennium Bowl." These teams included the 1960's Green Bay Packers, the 1970's Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1980's San Francisco 49ers and the 1990's Dallas Cowboys.

Each team would be allowed to pull players from any of their rosters during their designated decade to form the best team of the dynasty. The Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves matched up with Deion Sanders and the Dallas Cowboys in the first round, while the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers played on the other end of the bracket.

Today's film room reviews what happened when the best dynasty of the Steelers met the best dynasty of the Cowboys.

Steelers offense vs. Cowboys defense

Steelers defense vs. Cowboys offense

Steelers open game with Swann touchdown against Sanders

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened the scoring in the game with a solid drive that finished with a touchdown pass to Lynn Swann. Swann was being covered by Deion Sanders and made a last second cut to the football to make the touchdown pass look easy for Terry Bradshaw.

The Steel Curtain strikes

Pittsburgh would put Dallas into a third and short situation which Troy Aikman would convert with a pass to Emmitt Smith, but the play ended in disaster when Smith was stripped of the football and Mel Blount would take the fumble recovery all the way to the end zone, making the game 14-0 early in the first quarter.

Franco Harris runs for a 49 yard touchdown

After a quarter of battling for field position, the Dallas Cowboys were next to strike with a field goal to make the game 14-3 in the middle of the second quarter. Pittsburgh's offense rose to the occasion again however when at midfield, Franco Harris took off on a run to the weak side for a touchdown that would put Pittsburgh with a commanding lead late in the second quarter.

Jack Hamm gives the team another chance to score before halftime

With three minutes to go at the end of the first half, the Cowboys felt the desperation of their 18 point deficit and switched quarterbacks, hoping to spark a late scoring drive in the first half to make the score more respectable before halftime. That spark of hope would be snuffed out when outside linebacker Jack Hamm would be right in position for the interception, putting the Steelers right back in Dallas' territory for Pittsburgh to break the game wide open.

The offense would squander the opportunity, but the team still held a commanding lead over Dallas going into the locker room.

Halftime Pittsburgh 21 Dallas 3

Dallas would not let the game be out of hand for long, as they scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to take the lead. In order to put more pressure on Pittsburgh's offense, Jimmy Johnson elected to go for two on their last touchdown to make the score Dallas 25 - Pittsburgh 21, late in the fourth quarter.

With less than a minute to go, Pittsburgh needed an answer to keep their hopes alive of being named the greatest dynasty of all time. Terry Bradshaw found the first part of his answer in John Stallworth.

Stallworth puts team in scoring range

Needing a touchdown with 16 seconds left in the game, Bradshaw fired a deep pass to John Stallworth to set the Steelers up in scoring range for an opportunity to score the game winning touchdown.  Pittsburgh had put themselves back into the ballgame and needed just one more big play from their offense to finish the game and advance to the championship round of the Millennium Bowl Tournament.


Bradshaw dropped back from under center and puts up a pass to the corner of the end zone with only one man in range, and that man was the Cowboys killer, Lynn Swann. Swann recorded his second touchdown of the game with no time left for Dallas to respond, making the final score Pittsburgh 27 Dallas 25.


The Pittsburgh Steelers proved victorious against the Dallas Cowboys on the big stage yet again. While the Cowboys were able to defeat the 1990s version of the Steelers and the Blitzburgh defense, they could not overcome the Steel Curtain and the determination of the four time champions that were the 1970's Steelers.

On the other side of the bracket, the San Francisco 49ers would defeat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers in walk-off fashion with Joe Montana throwing an overtime touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to John Taylor, defeating the Packers 30 to 24.

Thus, the stage was set for the Steelers of the 70's to face the 49ers of the 80's in the Millennium Bowl championship round. Be sure to check in with us next week as we breakdown that game and how these two great dynasties matched up with one another.

P.S. For those of you who remember watching this, don't be a spoiler for the next round in the comment section!