8. Super Bowl X, 1976: Pittsburgh 21—Dallas 17
Two legendary teams faced off in the first truly great Super Bowl, establishing a timeless rivalry and helping to elevate the event from big ticket sports event to full-blown pop culture phenomenon.
Competitiveness: 10 out of 10. The underdog Cowboys jumped ahead early, on a Roger Staubach touchdown pass and led 10-7 at half. The third quarter saw both teams dominating on defense with a series of turnovers and missed opportunities plaguing both sides. In a frantic fourth quarter, the Steelers recorded a blocked punt safety and two field goals before Bradshaw’s stunning 64-yard bomb to Lynn Swann seemed to break the game open. However, Staubach wasn’t done, leading the Cowboys back to the brink of victory before falling just short.
Star Power: 10 out of 10. Between the Steel Curtain, the Doomsday Defense, Staubach, Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann and coaches Noll and Landry, possibly the greatest group of talent ever to assemble at a Super Bowl.
Intrigue/Controversy: 6 out of 10. Swann had been severely concussed in the AFC Championship game, forcing him to spend two days in the hospital. He was not expected to play leading up to the game, but amazingly appeared and scored the decisive touchdown. This would not happen now, thank goodness. This was the last Super Bowl with an afternoon start.
Aftermath: 10 out of 10. The Steelers and Cowboys would dominate much of the next decade. Their two classic Super Bowl matchups would form the cornerstone of the NFL’s explosive growth in the coming decades.
Aggregate Score: 36 out of 40.
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