Oddball Steelers Victory: Terry Bradshaw vs Len Dawson

Terry Bradshaw #12 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Terry Bradshaw #12 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Ever since the Steelers drafted Terry Bradshaw in 1970, the Steelers have transformed themselves into a prolific passing team. Especially when the NFL changed its rules, giving defensive backs less freedom to touch wide receivers.

When the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, he took the Steelers passing game to a whole new level obliterating all of Terry Bradshaw’s passing records and is currently 7th all-time in passing yards and still going.

Keeping that in mind, we come leads us to one of the more unusual steeler victories of all time. One would think that when Two future hall of fame coaches, each with a future hall of fame quarterback, they would light up the scoreboard. Not in this game, the defenses took center stage.  Since 1969, after Chuck Noll became the Steelers head coach, the Steelers have only had two wins in which the passing rating has been less than 21.  Of those two games, the lowest rating was a dismal 12.5 in which they still won the game.

Kansas City 7  Pittsburgh 16,   November 12, 1972

In a meeting of two Legendary coaches, Chuck Noll faced Hank Stram for Kansas City.  Then you had two eventual hall of fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Len Dawson (also a former Steeler at one time). Not exactly a game; you would think the Steelers would win with a passing rating of 12.5, considering when Len Dawson finished with a rating of 48.5 in the same game. Not exactly a passing duel. Yet, that’s what happened in this classic matchup.

Terry Bradshaw had 20 attempts and eight completions for 92 yards, Sacked twice for 12 yards. The saving grace for the Steelers came In the rushing game where Franco Harris had 17 rushes for 134 yards and one touchdown, sealing a victory in the fourth quarter. Frenchy Fuqua had 18 rushes for 70 yards

Len Dawson, despite his 48.5 passing rating had 36 attempts for 17 completions for 161 yards, one interception to Steelers safety Glen Edwards and the Steel Curtain sacked him five times for 53 yards. The only Kansas city touchdown came when Jim Kearney intercepted Terry Bradshaw, returning it 65 yards. Despite the low score and poor passing performance, still a classic game in which Pittsburgh snatched a victory.

An Even Odder Statistic

If you go back to November 18, 1956, The Steelers played the Chicago Cardinals. Quarterback Ted Marchibroda had 16 attempts and four completions with 58 yards. Oh, and three interceptions. And a 0.0 passing rating still winning the game 14-7. He did have a little help from his running backs Fran Rogel and Lou Baldacci, who rushed for a combined 222 yards and one touchdown.

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Since the 1972 game against Kansas City, the last time Pittsburgh had a passing rating of under 30 goes back to October 10, 1976, in a 23-6 romp over Cincinnati. Except Terry Bradshaw missed the game due to an injury, and Mike Kruczek ran the Steelers offense. Both Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier rushed for over a 1000 yards that season.