For all of those
gaudy things that happened throughout the afternoon, memories of the 1976 Super
Bowl will keep going back to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Lynn Swann climbing into
the air like the boy in the Indian rope trick and coming down with the
football. He didn't come down with very many passes, really, only four, but he
caught the ones that truly mattered. That is why it will seem that he spent the
day way up there in the crisp sky, a thousand feet above Miami's Orange Bowl,
where neither the Dallas Cowboys nor even a squadron of fighter planes could do
anything to stop him. When it was all over, Swann and the Steelers had won
21-17 and had repeated as champions.
beforehand was that Pittsburgh could win this game only if Franco Harris
trampled over and through a thing called the flex defense of the Cowboys who,
in the meantime, on offense, would do enough weird things to the hard-hat
Steelers to capture the day. Essentially Dallas stopped Harris, however, and
the winning of Super Bowl X was left up to Swann and the indomitable Terry
Bradshaw. It was Swann, soaring above the Cowboys' Mark Washington at the
sideline, who fielded a Bradshaw pass of 32 yards and made the drive that put
Pittsburgh back in the contest late in the first quarter.
And in the fourth
quarter it was Swann who would make the biggest catch of the day, a 64-yard
touchdown heave from Bradshaw, who didn't realize until much later, after his
head stopped rattling, that he had passed for a score. The last catch of
Swann's, which put the Steelers safely ahead 21-10, has to be dwelled on, for
it had Super Bowl trophy and $15,000 to each Steeler written all over it. The
play ended with Swann catching a rocket from Bradshaw that traveled at least 70
yards in the air, Swann jumping and taking it on the Dallas five-yard line and
gliding in for the touchdown, and Bradshaw barely conscious on the ground after
being decked by Cliff Harris on a safety blitz. For those who collect trivia,
the name of the play was a 69 Maximum Flanker Post.
It was a
beautifully thrown ball, a perfectly run pass route and a marvelous catch, all
three at the most splendid moment of the game. "All I did," said Swann,
"was run under the ball." That was enough.