Harris says he loves the fact that Swann and Stallworth run a high percentage of inside routes. "The strength of my play is that I hit hard," he says. "If they run Swann or Stallworth inside, we have to make them pay."
Nonetheless, Harris admits that his job won't be easy. "A receiver is most vulnerable between the time his hands touch the ball and the time he cradles it away. Swann is the sort of receiver who tucks the ball in immediately. So he almost never takes a hard shot when he's vulnerable. The secret of not getting hit is control. O. J. Simpson has that kind of control; so does Tony Dorsett. And so does Lynn Swann."
For all the respect that Harris and Waters have for Swann, they avow even more for Bradshaw. " Bradshaw's smart," says Harris. "And he's strong enough to force a pass into the strength of our defense and still complete it."
This means that the Cowboys are certain to blitz Bradshaw more than is their habit. Can they make it work?
"That's what we did the last time we played them in the Super Bowl," Waters reflects. "But when you blitz, it's critical that you get to the quarterback quickly. If he has more than X plus 2 seconds, or whatever, you're in trouble. If you leave Swann one-on-one, and Bradshaw sees it, then you might as well forget it. And Terry, being the stud that he is, can hang in there like a big oak tree. Other quarterbacks start falling down when you come near 'em, but Terry never gets off balance."
Harris considers. Then he says, "What we'll try to do is confuse Bradshaw so that he'll throw into the strength of our defense. We'll double-cover Swann at times, single-cover him at other times, and we'll blitz!"
Harris assumes a learned, self-effacing demeanor under his piratical mustache. In a plummy voice he adds, self-effacingly, "I haven't studied their tight end, Randy Grossman, on film, but I know Stallworth has a lot of talent. When you double-cover, you hope the one guy you leave to handle the rest of it is strong enough to handle the lone guy. At Dallas we play the percentages. They're going to get X amount of yards through our weaknesses, and if the percentage is high enough we're in trouble."
A typical Pittsburgh pass pattern sends Swann deep, with Stallworth delaying a bit, then cutting across the middle, each coming from opposite sides. The speed of the two Steeler receivers—both run the 40 in about 4.6—coupled with the various kinds of passes Bradshaw throws could very well stretch the zones of coverage beyond the breaking point. Add to that the presence of Grossman, and you have a difficult puzzle to solve.
Harris pauses and contemplates. The mustache twitches. "We better get a great pass rush or our offense is going to have to score a lot of points."