by Zachary Levin
Lynn Swann wasn't sure he'd be able to play against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X (January 18, 1976). The Pittsburgh receiver, who had suffered a concussion in the AFC Championship game against the Oakland Raiders, told fellow receiver John Stallworth that his timing and concentration felt off. Likely story. Swann put on a display of athleticism against Dallas that still ranks among the greatest receiving performances of all time.
Swann made just four catches on the day, but gained 161 receiving yards--a Super Bowl record at the time. Even more than his yardage total, it was Swann's artistry that made his performance speccial. He made catches that no one should have made--especially in such a high-pressure game; they were acrobatic and graceful, and, ultimately, they helped the Steelers corral the Cowboys.
Swann's first catch came on a 32-yard pass down the sideline. He soared high for the ball and appeared to have little chance of staying in bounds, but Swann just managed to get his feet down in play. His next catch has become a regular feature of NFL highlight reels, a 53-yard bomb from Terry Bradshaw that Swann first bobbled then hauled in while stretched out parallel with the ground. Ironically, this was the one Swann catch that wasn't part of a scoring drive, making it, arguably, his least important reception of the day.
Despite Swann's heroics, the Cowboys led 10-7 in the fourth quarter, but Pittsburgh reeled 14 quick points, the final seven coming on a 64-yard pass from Bradshaw to Swann. The Cowboys answered with a touchdown, to pull within four points, and had one final scoring opportunity. But quarterback Roger Staubach's last-ditch heave into the end zone was intercepted, and the Steelers, led by game MVP Swann, were winners, 21-17.