13. Super Bowl XIII, 1979: Pittsburgh 35—Dallas 31
Two of the ’70s great teams met in a rematch of their first Super Bowl classic staged three years earlier. Pittsburgh would prevail again in a shootout featuring countless legends and memorable plays.
Competitiveness: 9 out of 10. By the time of their second of three total title game matchups, the Steelers and Cowboys had combined to win four of the previous eight championships. The two rivals exchanged big plays through the air as both Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw completed long touchdowns. The Steelers led 21-14 at halftime and eventually stretched their lead to 35-17 on a brilliant Lynn Swann touchdown reception. Staubach and the Cowboys’ frantic rally would fall just short.
Star Power: 10 out of 10. Where to begin? 18 Hall of Fame players took the field coached by two legendary figures in Chuck Noll and Tom Landry.
Intrigue/Controversy: 7 out of 10. These teams flat out hated one another, and the animosity showed on and off the field. Flamboyant Cowboys linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson presaged the game with one of the great digs in NFL history, calling Bradshaw so dumb that “he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the c and the t.”
Aftermath: 8 out of 10. The Steelers’ third title was historically consequential. Almost as important was the game’s status as a thriller after the many, many ugly Super Bowls that had preceded it. This was the beginning of the primetime global spectacle we think of today.
Aggregate Score: 34 out of 40.Back to top