by Zachary Levin
Super Bowl XIII (January 21, 1979) was a game of contrasting quarterbacks. Although the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, had already won two Super Bowls, many questioned whether he had the brains to lead an NFL offense. But nobody doubted Roger Staubach. The Dallas Cowboys' field general was a Naval Academy graduate and Heisman Trophy winner.
Staubach's coaches ran the Cowboys offense from the sideline--the "dumber" Bradshaw, ironically, called his own plays--but Staubach was still considered one of the NFL's most intelligentt players. Seizing on the perceived contrast, the Cowboys tried to rattle Bradshaw. "[He] couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a'," linebacker "Hollywood" Henderson told reporters.
The Steelers struck early, when Bradshaw connected with John Stallworth for a 28-yard, first-quarter touchdown. Staubach answered for the Cowboys, hitting receiver Tony Hill in the end zone. The Dallas defense added another score, running a Steelers fumble into the end zone. Bradshaw and Stallworth tied the score, connecting again for a 75-yard touchdown. Another Bradshaw touchdown pass to running back Rocky Bleier gave Pittsburgh a 21-14 halftime lead.
The Cowboys missed a precious chance to pull even in the third quarter, when tight end Jackie Smith dropped a pass in the end zone. And when Pittsburgh followed up with two touchdowns in just 19 seconds--one coming on Bradshaw's record fourth Super Bowl touchdown pass--the Steelers led by 18.
True to his reputation as a clutch quarterback, Staubach brought Dallas roaring back with two touchdown passes in the closing minutes. But his heroics were not enough; brainy or not, Bradshaw and his blue-collar Steelers won their third championship, 35-31. Bradshaw was named the game's most valuable player.