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1976 Pittsburgh Steelers season

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Title: 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers season  
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1976 Pittsburgh Steelers season

1976 Pittsburgh Steelers season
Head coach Chuck Noll
Owner Art Rooney
Home field Three Rivers Stadium
Results
Record 10–4
Division place 1st in AFC Central
Playoff finish Won Divisional Playoffs (Colts) 40–14
Lost AFC Championship (Raiders) 24–7
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros
Team MVP Jack Lambert
Timeline
Previous season Next season
< 1975 1977 >

The 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the team's 44th in the National Football League. The Steelers started the season looking to become the first team in the Super Bowl era to win three-straight league championships (and first since the 1929–1931 and 1965–1967 Green Bay Packers). However, many thought that would be in doubt after the team started 1–4 and saw quarterback Terry Bradshaw injured in the week 5 loss to the Cleveland Browns after a vicious sack by Joe "Turkey" Jones that has since become immortalized in NFL Films as part of the Browns-Steelers rivalry.

Despite the setbacks, the Steelers would turn it around behind the strength of the Steel Curtain and its dual threat at running back in Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, who each rushed for over 1000 yards, finishing 10–4 and posting five shutouts. Rookie quarterback Mike Kruczek wound up going 6–0 starting in place of Bradshaw, largely due to the strength of the ground game. This would also stand as an NFL record for best start for a rookie quarterback until 2004—when the Steelers' own Ben Roethlisberger more than doubled that record and went 13–0 as a starter his rookie season.

However, injuries to both Bleier and Harris in the playoffs caught up to them resulting in losing to the Oakland Raiders for the AFC Championship. Even with Pittsburgh coming up short, many Steelers fans—including the Rooney family themselves—consider the 1976 Steelers the best team in franchise history, even better than all six world championship teams.

In 2007, ESPN.com named the 1976 Steelers the greatest defense in NFL history,[1] noting, "the 1976 unit was the best (slightly better than the '75 squad). Here's why: 28. That's how many points the Steel Curtain surrendered in the last nine games of the season. That's a total. As a result, Pittsburgh, which started the season 1–4, made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game.... The '76 Steelers didn't have it easy – their opponents had a .528 winning percentage. But they had these guys: Hall of Famers Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Mel Blount. And eight Steelers defensive players made the 1976 Pro Bowl team: cornerback J.T. Thomas, defensive end L.C. Greenwood, Greene, Ham, Lambert, defensive back Glen Edwards, safety Mike Wagner, and Blount."

Personnel

Staff

Roster

Regular season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Time (ET) TV Result
1 Sunday September 12 at Oakland Raiders 4:00 pm NBC L 31–28
2 Sunday September 19 Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm NBC W 31–14
3 Sunday September 26 New England Patriots 1:00 pm NBC L 30–27
4 Monday October 4 at Minnesota Vikings 9:00 pm ABC L 17–6
5 Sunday October 10 at Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm NBC L 18–16
6 Sunday October 17 Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 pm NBC W 23–6
7 Sunday October 24 at New York Giants 1:00 pm NBC W 27–0
8 Sunday October 31 San Diego Chargers 1:00 pm NBC W 23–0
9 Sunday November 7 at Kansas City Chiefs 2:00 pm NBC W 45–0
10 Sunday November 14 Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm NBC W 14–3
11 Sunday November 21 Houston Oilers 1:00 pm NBC W 32–16
12 Sunday November 28 at Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 pm NBC W 7–3
13 Sunday December 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1:00 pm NBC W 42–0
14 Saturday December 11 at Houston Oilers 4:00 pm NBC W 21–0

Game summaries

Standings

AFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA
Pittsburgh Steelers(3) 10 4 0 .714 5–1 9–3 342 138
Cincinnati Bengals 10 4 0 .714 4–2 8–3 335 210
Cleveland Browns 9 5 0 .643 3–3 6–5 267 287
Houston Oilers 5 9 0 .357 0–6 3–9 222 273

Postseason

Game summaries

AFC Divisional Playoff (Sunday December 19, 1976): at Baltimore Colts

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 9 17 0 14 40
Colts 7 0 0 7 14

at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 59,296
  • Referee: Pat Haggerty
  • TV announcers: (NBC)

Scoring Drives:

Notes: Pittsburgh gained an NFL record 524 total yards, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier were lost to injuries.

AFC Championship (Sunday December 26, 1976): at Oakland Raiders

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 7 0 0 7
Raiders 3 14 7 0 24

at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California

  • Game time: 4:00 pm EST
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 53,821
  • Referee: Tommy Bell
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Curt Gowdy (play by play), Don Meredith (color commentator)

Scoring Drives:

References

  1. ^ The List: Best NFL defense of all-time, 2007
  2. ^ 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide. 
  3. ^ 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide. 
  4. ^ 1977 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide. 
  5. ^ "http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/pit/1976_roster.htm". 
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