What if Troy Polamalu played for the Steelers in the 1970s?

Safety Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Safety Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /
5 of 11
Don Shula, Miami Dolphins
Don Shula, Coach of the Miami Dolphins speaks with Quarterback Bob Griese and Quarterback Earl Morrall (Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images) /

1972 Super Bowl

As history played out, the Dolphins killed the Steelers with a fake punt set up by a Dwight White penalty for jumping offsides, nullifying a Jack Ham interception. However, with Troy Polamalu, the Dolphins still attempt the fake punt.

It fails to work and get the ball back, nullifying one Dolphins touchdown. The Steelers win 17-14.

They then go on to face Washington in the 1972 Super Bowl. Would the Steelers have knocked off Washington? Common sense dictates yes. Washington played a horrible game that year and only managed one touchdown. Against the Dolphins, Kilmer was sacked twice and threw three picks.

If it were the Steelers with Polamalu, it’s hard to see Kilmer improving his performance any to knock off Pittsburgh at that point. Conceivably, the Steelers get four sacks and throws at least one additional pick. Larry Brown would struggle even to hit 72 yards rushing.

So, NFL history is rewritten, and the Steelers win their first NFL championship two years early, replacing the Dolphins as the first undefeated team in NFL history.

Steelers 1973 Season

Pittsburgh did not have a great draft compared to other draft classes in the 1970s, so the only real addition in 1973 is cornerback J.T. Thomas. The defensive front four remain the same, except Ernie Holmes replaces Ben Mcgee as a starter. The linebacker starters remain the same as do the corner starters, and then you still have Troy and Mike Wagner as the starting safeties with Glen Edwards and Thomas rotating in as needed.

While still not at a defensive peak, as a unit, they are getting better collectively. Now this season is a bit harder to figure. Polamalu’s addition in 1972 undoubtedly propels them to the Super Bowl and ruins Miami’s bid for an undefeated season, conferring that honor to Pittsburgh.

So in 1973, the Steelers went 10-4. With Polamalu, they improve to 12-2, still losing to the Bengals and Broncos. The postseason becomes a bit murky at this point. In 1973, the Steelers lost to Oakland in the first round. With the improved record, they would have faced the Bengals in Round 1. A game they win.

Then they would have faced either Oakland or Miami. As easy as it would be to say the Steelers win and go back to the Super Bowl, they still could easily lose to either Miami or Oakland.

The Steelers do go further in the playoffs but to no avail.