1976 Pittsburgh Steelers season

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
1976 Pittsburgh Steelers season
Head coachChuck Noll
OwnerArt Rooney
Home fieldThree Rivers Stadium
Division place1st in AFC Central
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (Colts) 40–14
Lost AFC Championship (Raiders) 7-24
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros
Team MVPJack Lambert

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 1,000 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 AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Colts sidelined them both for the following week's AFC Championship game against the Oakland Raiders. Without both of their 1,000-yard rushers, the Steelers lost to the Raiders by a score of 24-7. 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.[citation needed] Jack Lambert, who won 4 Super Bowls with the Steelers between 1974 and 1979, claimed that the 1976 Steelers team was the best team that he ever played for, and subsequently, the loss to the Raiders in the AFC Championship game was the most painful loss of his career. He (Lambert) is convinced that they would have beaten the Raiders and gone on to win that season's Super Bowl had Harris and Bleier both been healthy and available for said AFC Championship game.

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. Only 1 of the 7 teams the Steelers played during the streak finished the season with a winning record (Cincinnati) and none made the playoffs. The Steelers' defense had 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."



1976 Pittsburgh Steelers staff
Front office
  • Chairman of the Board – Arthur J. Rooney
  • President – Daniel M. Rooney
  • Vice President – John R. McGinley
  • Vice President – Arthur J. Rooney, Jr.
  • Public Relations Director – Ed Kiely
  • Traveling Secretary – James A. Boston
  • Publicity Director – Joe Gordon
  • Controller – Dennis P. Thimons
  • Ticket Manager – Joseph H. Carr
  • Director of Player Personnel – Dick Haley
  • Assistant Director of Player Personnel – Bill Nunn
  • Director of Professional Scouting – V. Timothy Rooney

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength – Louis Riecke
  • Flexibility – Paul Uram
  • Team Physician, M.D. – Dr. David S. Huber
  • Team Physician, Orthopedic – Dr. Paul B. Steele, Jr.
  • Team Dentist – Dr. George P. Boucek
  • Trainer – Ralph Berlin
  • Assistant Trainer – Robert Milie
  • Equipment Manager – Anthony Parisi
  • Field Manager – Jack Hart
  • Film Director – Bob McCartney
  • Photographer – Harry Homa



1976 Pittsburgh Steelers final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

[3] [4] [5]

Rookies in italics
44 Active, 7 Inactive, 1 Practice squad

Regular season[edit]


Week Date Opponent Time (ET) TV Result
1 Sunday September 12 at Oakland Raiders 4:00 pm NBC L 28–31
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 27–30
4 Monday October 4 at Minnesota Vikings 9:00 pm ABC L 6–17
5 Sunday October 10 at Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm NBC L 16–18
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[edit]


AFC Central
Pittsburgh Steelers(3) 10 4 0 .714 5–1 9–3 342 138 W9
Cincinnati Bengals 10 4 0 .714 4–2 8–3 335 210 W1
Cleveland Browns 9 5 0 .643 3–3 6–5 267 287 L1
Houston Oilers 5 9 0 .357 0–6 3–9 222 273 L2


Game summaries[edit]

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

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[edit]

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:


  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. ^ "1976 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-12-17.