Houston gets the Steelers at home for their last divisional game of the season in this week 14 matchup. Pittsburgh is one of the greatest teams of all-time. An explosive passing attack, a dangerous running back combo, perhaps the best defense of the 70s... this team is a monster.
Houston can give them trouble though. They played them very closely during the actual 1978 regular-season... and they've already upset them in their first Paydirt replay. I rate the Steelers only a minor favorite in this game.
In the actual 1978 matchup, Pittsburgh won 13-3 to solidify home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Here is the replay:
Houston Oilers 0 14 0 7 - 21
Pittsburgh Steelers 3 7 0 7 - 17
Pit(6:17) Gerela 27 yard field goal
Hou(8:14) Pastorini 6 yard pass to Caster (Fritsch PAT)
Pit(5:11) Bleier 3 yard run (Gerela PAT)
Hou(3:00) Pastorini 51 yard pass to Campbell (Fritsch PAT)
Hou(7:10) Pastorini 12 yard pass to Woods (Fritsch PAT)
Pit(2:36) Bradshaw 14 yard pass to Swann (Gerela PAT)
Rushing- Houston, Earl Campbell 24-78, Tim Wilson 4-32, Ronnie Coleman 8-23, Dan Pastorini 2-7, Rob Carpenter 1-1. Pittsburgh, Franco Harris 25-97, Sidney Thorton 1-7, Rocky Bleier 5-5, Rick Moser 1-2.
Passing- Houston, Dan Pastorini 13-25-2-214. Pittsburgh, Terry Bradshaw 12-29-3-109.
Receiving- Houston, Earl Campbell 3-78, Mike Renfro 2-50, Rob Carpenter 2-31, Ken Burrough 2-27, Rich Caster 2-16, Robert Woods 1-12. Pittsburgh, Lynn Swann 5-49, John Stallworth 3-18, Bennie Cunningham 2-16, Franco Harris 1-16, Randy Grossman 1-10.
Kick Returns- Houston, Johnnie Dirden 3-91. Pittsburgh, Larry Anderson 3-67, Nat Terry 1-57.
Punt Returns- Houston, Ronnie Coleman 1-16. Pittsburgh, Theo Bell 2-16, Randy Reutershan 1-10, Jim Smith 1-9.
Punters- Houston, Cliff Parsley 7-42.0avg. Pittsburgh, Craig Colquitt 7-40.9avg.
Interception Returns- Houston, JC Wilson 2-17, Greg Stemrick 1-0. Pittsburgh, Donnie Shell 1-20, Mel Blount 1-0.
Fumble Recoveries/yards- Houston, Kurt Koff 1-0, Rich Caster 1-0. Pittsburgh, Donnie Shell 1-17, Jack Ham 1-0, Larry Anderson 1-0, Rocky Bleier 1-0.
Team Stats Houston Pittsburgh
First downs 14 13
Penalties/Yards 7/90 3/15
Return yards 12 196
Total yards 353 220
Rushing yards/per carry 139/3.6 111/3.5
Sacked/Yards lost 0/- 0/-
Fumbles/Lost 4/4 2/2
4th downs made 0-0 0-1
Field Goals/attemps 0-0 1-1
The Oilers got by the Steelers in an error filled, sloppily played game. Both teams had a difficult time holding onto the ball, with Houston turning over the ball 6 times, Pittsburgh 5. There were also two blocked punts, and over 100 yards in penalties in the game.
The difference in the game came down to the poor play of Terry Bradshaw. His first pass went for 19 yards to Lynn Swann... which would be his longest completion of the day. Time and time again, Bradshaw had open looks downfield for middle to long throws, and time and time again he missed.
Meanwhile Dan Pastorini made the absolute most of his chances. He had three passes go for over 20 yards, and five more go for 10 to 19 yards. Pastorini also hit on 3 TD passes, the third of which gave the Oilers a 21-10 lead with just over 7 minutes to go.
Pittsburgh made the game interesting at the very end. Using all three of the their timeouts after short Earl Campbell runs, they forced an Oiler punt with 2:50 remaining. Coming with an all-out rush, Pittsburgh blocked the punt setting their offense up at the 14. Terry Bradshaw connected on the next play for a TD to give his team a glimmer of hope.
Pittsburgh then attempted the onside kick, and *just* missed it. Houston went with three straight line plunges setting up another punt... this one with 40 seconds remaining. Pittsburgh again came with an 11 man rush, but this time Cliff Parsley got it away. Bradshaw, needing 80 yards in 30 seconds, had his deep pass picked off... and the Oilers had the game.
Houston matches up very well with the Steelers, but Pittsburgh does have the better chart. Sometimes you get the rolls though... and this was one of those games for the Oilers. The win moves their replay record to 10-4, with the Saints on-deck.