1969 Pittsburgh Steelers season

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1969 Pittsburgh Steelers season
Head coach Chuck Noll
Home field Pitt Stadium
Results
Record 1–13
Division place 4th NFL Century
Playoff finish did not qualify
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros Roy Jefferson (1st team)
Team MVP Roy Jefferson
Timeline
Previous season Next season
< 1968 1970 >

The 1969 Pittsburgh Steelers season constitutes what many consider to be the turning point of this once-moribund franchise. 1969 was the first season for Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Noll, the first season for defensive lineman "Mean Joe" Greene and L. C. Greenwood, the first season for longtime Steelers public relations director Joe Gordon, and the team's last season in Pitt Stadium before moving into then-state-of-the-art Three Rivers Stadium the following season.

Although considered a turning point in the team’s history, the results were not immediate; after winning the season opener against the Detroit Lions, the Steelers would go on to lose every game afterwards to finish 1–13. The Steelers would become the first team in NFL history since the 1936 Philadelphia Eagles to win its season opener and go on to lose every game remaining afterwards, a feat not matched until 2001 when the Carolina Panthers won its season opener against Minnesota before losing every game en route to a 1–15 finish. The Steelers finished 1969 as 4th in the NFL Century Division and tied with the Chicago Bears for last in the NFL. With the Steelers finishing 1–6 at Pitt Stadium, it would also mark the last time the Steelers would finish the season with a losing record at home until 1999.

As a result of their 1–13 records, Art Rooney of the Steelers would win a coin toss with George Halas of the Bears to determine who would select Louisiana Tech quarterback Terry Bradshaw (the consensus number 1 selection among league teams) with the number one pick in the 1970 draft. By modern NFL tiebreaking rules, the Steelers would have automatically been given the first pick anyway, as the Bears' one win came against the Steelers in week 8.

Offseason[edit]

In the 1969 offseason, the Steelers hired former defensive coordinator Chuck Noll from the Baltimore Colts days after his loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. Noll became the team's 14th head coach in the franchise's history up to that point. But while it took 36 seasons to go through the first 13, Noll would stay through 1991 and would set the ground for coaching stability for the Steelers not seen in other NFL franchises today. Since Noll's retirement, only Bill Cowher and current head coach Mike Tomlin have been head coach of the Steelers.

In camp, one of Chuck Noll's first tasks was to rid the team of all the "dead wood", or the players who couldn't perform well enough for him. He wanted only players willing to give their best effort to the team. Only a handful of players were carried over from the 1968 squad to the 1974 Super Bowl Squad, most notably veterans Ben McGee, Andy Russell, Ray Mansfield, and Dick Hoak, the latter of which would become the team's running backs coach a few years later and would remain with the team in that capacity through the 2006 season. Rocky Bleier, who played his rookie season the year before and would later be a major contributor to the Super Bowl championship teams, was fighting in Vietnam during this time and would actually be wounded in combat just before the start of the season. This method of going through the "dead wood" of the team was similar to what Marvin Lewis would do decades later when he took over as the Cincinnati Bengals' head coach in 2003.

1969 NFL Draft[edit]

1969 Pittsburgh Steelers draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 3 Joe Greene *   DT North Texas #32
2 30 Terry Hanratty  QB Notre Dame #5
2 42 Warren Bankston  RB Tulane #46
3 56 Jon Kolb  C Oklahoma State #55
4 82 Bob Campbell  RB Penn State
7 160 Chuck Beatty  DB North Texas #37
8 186 Joe Cooper  WR Tennessee State
9 212 John Sodaski  DB Villanova #49
10 238 L.C. Greenwood *   DE Arkansas AM&N #68
11 264 C. Washington  DT Arkansas AM&N
12 290 Doug Fisher  LB San Diego State
13 315 John Lynch  LB Drake
14 342 Bob Hourman  RB Ohio
15 368 Ken Liberto  WR Louisiana Tech
16 394 Dock Mosley  WR Alcorn A&M
17 420 Bill Eppright  PK Kent State
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

Although the Pittsburgh Steelers missed out on Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson, Chuck Noll absorbed the 1st Round pick wisely by drafting North Texas State Defensive Tackle, Joe Greene. Noll would say years later that Greene would've been selected even if they had the top overall pick, passing over Simpson. Although Simpson himself would also go on to a Hall of Fame career before legal troubles overshadowed his NFL accomplishments, this would set the groundwork of the Steelers excellent scouting in the draft, a practice that carries today.

Greene’s selection would not be met without controversy, however. The front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the next morning had a headline posted Who’s Joe Greene?, owing to his relative obscurity despite being named a consensus All-American selection his senior year. The team would also go on to draft Greene's defensive line mate, Arkansas AM&N defensive end L. C. Greenwood, in the tenth round. Greene and Greenwood would form the core of the famed Steel Curtain defensive line and would play their entire career as teammates, with both retiring at the end of the 1981 season. The following year, Noll would switch the team to a 3–4 defense, partially as a result of the retirement of two of his best defensive players.

Joe Gordon was also hired as the team’s public relations director this season. Though his role was more behind-the-scenes, he would remain with the team in that capacity through the 1998 season, second only to Dick Hoak in terms of tenure with the team outside of the Rooney family, third counting Steelers radio commentator Myron Cope, who was not employed by the team but through WTAE Radio and later WDVE on the official Steelers radio network.

Regular season[edit]

Summary[edit]

The 1969 Season started off well in Week 1 for the Steelers. After defeating the Detroit Lions 16-13, much of the roster believed they were on a Super Bowl run. However, after losing three straight times, first at Philadelphia 41-27, then at home against the Cardinals 27-14, and at New York against the Giants 10-7, the team then stopped believing that theory. The Steelers then lost the next 10 games and became the first team in league history since the 1936 Philadelphia Eagles to win their season opener but then lose every other game until the 2001 Carolina Panthers. Though after these losses, Art Rooney Sr. still had faith in Chuck Noll, and kept him going for 1970. With the 1-13 record, the Steelers would win a coin toss against the Chicago Bears (who were also 1-13) and for the first time since 1956, the Steelers would get the 1st Pick in the NFL Draft. With the pick, the team's fortunes would continue to turn to the better when they drafted Louisiana Tech quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result
1 September 21, 1969 Detroit Lions W16–13
2 September 28, 1969 at Philadelphia Eagles L41–27
3 October 5, 1969 St. Louis Cardinals L 27–14
4 October 12, 1969 at New York Giants L 10–7
5 October 18, 1969 at Cleveland Browns L 42–31
6 October 26, 1969 Washington Redskins L 14–7
7 November 2, 1969 Green Bay Packers L 38–34
8 November 9, 1969 at Chicago Bears L 38–7
9 November 16, 1969 Cleveland Browns L 24–3
10 November 23, 1969 at Minnesota Vikings L 52–14
11 November 30, 1969 at St. Louis Cardinals L 47–10
12 December 7, 1969 Dallas Cowboys L 10–7
13 December 14, 1969 New York Giants L 21–17
14 December 21, 1969 at New Orleans Saints L 27–24

Game summaries[edit]

Week 1 (Sunday September 21, 1969): Detroit Lions[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Lions 3 0 3 7 13
Steelers 3 6 0 7 16

at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EST
  • Game weather: 80 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny at kickoff
  • Game attendance: 51,360
  • Referee: Pat Haggerty
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Detroit – FG Mann 23 yds, 0–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 27 yds, 3–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 18 yds, 6–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 40 yds, 9–3
  • Detroit – FG Mann 23 yds, 9–6
  • Detroit – McCullouch 12 yd pass from Munson (Mann kick), 9–13
  • Pittsburgh – Bankston 6 yd run (Mingo kick), 16–13

Week 2 (Sunday September 28, 1969): Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 13 0 7 7 27
Eagles 0 17 14 10 41

at Franklin Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 60,658
  • Referee: Bernie Ulman
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 36 yds, 3–0
  • Pittsburgh – Gros 8 yd pass from Shiner (Mingo kick), 10–0
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 15 yds, 13–0
  • Philadelphia – Hawkins 28 yd pass from Snead (Baker kick), 13–7
  • Philadelphia – FG Baker 35 yds, 10–13
  • Philadelphia – Hawkins 28 yd pass from Snead (Baker kick), 13–17
  • Philadelphia – Hawkins 47 yd pass from Snead (Baker kick), 13–24
  • Philadelphia – Hawkins 15 yd pass from Snead (Baker kick), 13–31
  • Pittsburgh – Hoak 3 yd run (Mingo kick), 20–31
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 14 yd pass from Shiner (Mingo kick), 27–31
  • Philadelphia – FG Baker 41 yds, 27–34
  • Philadelphia – Jackson 56 yd pass from Snead (Baker kick), 27–41

Week 3 (Sunday October 5, 1969): St. Louis Cardinals[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Cardinals 0 20 0 7 27
Steelers 7 0 7 0 14

at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 45,011
  • Referee: George Rennix
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 2 yd pass from Shiner (Mingo kick), 7–0
  • St. Louis – FG Bakken 42 yds, 7–3
  • St. Louis – Crenshaw 26 yd run (Bakken kick), 7–10
  • St. Louis – FG Bakken 35 yds, 7–13
  • St. Louis – Crenshaw 4 yd run (Bakken kick), 7–20
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 48 yd pass from Nix (Mingo kick), 14–20
  • St. Louis – Gilliam 58 yd pass from Hart (Bakken kick), 14–27

Week 4 (Sunday October 12, 1969): New York Giants[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 0 0 7 7
Giants 7 0 0 3 10

at Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, New York

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 62,987
  • Referee: Bud Brubaker
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • New York Giants – Morrison 7 yd pass from Tarkenton (Gogolak kick), 0–7
  • New York Giants – FG Gogolak 14 yds, 0–10
  • Pittsburgh – Shiner 18 yd run (Mingo kick), 7–10

Week 5 (Saturday October 18, 1969): Cleveland Browns[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 10 0 21 31
Browns 7 7 7 21 42

at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 84,078
  • Referee: Pat Haggerty
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Cleveland – Collins 4 yd pass from Nelsen (Cockroft kick)0–7
  • Pittsburgh – Hoak 4 yd run (Mingo kick)7–7
  • Cleveland – Kelly 1 yd run (Cockroft kick)7–14
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 38 yds 10–14
  • Cleveland – Sumner 40 yd interception return (Cockroft kick)10–21
  • Pittsburgh – Gros 15 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick)17–21
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 10 yd pass from Nix (Mingo kick)24–21
  • Cleveland – Morrison 1 yd run (Cockroft kick)24–28
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 15 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick)31–28

Week 6 (Sunday October 26, 1969): Washington Redskins[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Redskins 0 0 14 0 14
Steelers 7 0 0 0 7

at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 46,557
  • Referee: Tommy Bell
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – Gros 8 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick), 7–0
  • Washington – Jurgensen 10 yd run (Knight kick), 7–7
  • Washington – Taylor 17 yd pass from Jurgensen (Knight kick), 7–14

Week 7 (Sunday November 2, 1969): Green Bay Packers[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Packers 0 14 10 14 38
Steelers 10 7 7 10 34

at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 46,403
  • Referee: Bernie Ulman
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 19 yds, 3–0
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 38 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick), 10–0
  • Green Bay – Horn 2 yd run (Mercer kick), 10–7
  • Green Bay – T. Williams 83 yd punt return (Mercer kick), 10–14
  • Pittsburgh – Hoak 3 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick), 17–14
  • Pittsburgh – Williams 6 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick), 24–14
  • Green Bay – FG Mercer 15 yds, 24–17
  • Green Bay – T. Williams 96 yd kickoff return (Mercer kick), 24–24
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 53 yd pass from Shiner (Mingo kick), 31–24
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 32 yds, 34–24
  • Green Bay – Dale 43 yd pass from Starr (Mercer kick), 34–31
  • Green Bay – Starr 1 yd run (Mercer Kick), 34–38

Week 8 (Sunday November 9, 1969): Chicago Bears[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 0 0 7 7
Bears 16 13 9 0 38

at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 45,856
  • Referee: Fred Silva
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Chicago – Piccolo 25 yd pass from Douglass (Percival kick), 0–7
  • Chicago – Safety, Hanratty tackled in end zone by O'Bradovich, 0–9
  • Chicago – Sayers 2 yd run (Percival kick), 0–16
  • Chicago – FG Percival 27 yds, 0–19
  • Chicago – Wallace 12 yd pass from Douglass (Percival kick), 0–26
  • Chicago – FG Percival 35 yds, 0–29
  • Chicago – Safety, Shiner tackled in end zone by Butkus, 0–31
  • Chicago – Sayers, 1 yd run (Percival kick), 0–38
  • Pittsburgh – Gros 2 yd run (Mingo kick), 7–38

Week 9 (Sunday November 16, 1969): Cleveland Browns[edit]

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

at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 47,670
  • Referee: George Rennix
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Cleveland – Collins 26 yd pass from Nelsen (Cockroft kick), 0–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 31 yds, 3–7
  • Cleveland – FG Cockroft 28 yds, 3–10
  • Cleveland – Warfield 12 yd pass from Nelsen (Cockroft kick), 3–17
  • Cleveland – Kelly 1 yd run (Cockroft kick), 3–24

Week 10 (Sunday November 23, 1969): Minnesota Vikings[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 7 7 0 14
Vikings 7 10 14 21 52

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 47,202
  • Referee: Pat Haggerty
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Minnesota – Krause 77 yd interception return (Cox kick), 0–7
  • Minnesota – FG Cox 22 yds, 0–10
  • Pittsburgh – McCall 101 yd kickoff return (Mingo kick), 7–10
  • Minnesota – Brown 1 yd run (Cox kick), 7–17
  • Minnesota – Henderson 28 yd pass from Cuozzo (Cox kick), 7–24
  • Pittsburgh – Henderson 10 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick), 14–24
  • Minnesota – Beasley 60 yd fumble return (Cox kick), 14–31
  • Minnesota – Reed 6 yd pass from Cuozzo (Cox kick), 14–38
  • Minnesota – Reed 1 yd run (Cox kick), 14–45
  • Minnesota – Henderson 7 yd pass from Lee (Cox kick), 14–52

Week 11 (Sunday November 30, 1969): St. Louis Cardinals[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 3 0 7 10
Cardinals 6 6 7 28 47

at Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 43,721
  • Referee: Jim Tunney
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • St. Louis – Williams 7 yd pass from Hart (kick blocked), 0–6
  • St. Louis – FG Bakken 32 yds, 0–9
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 19 yds, 3–9
  • St. Louis – FG Bakken 12 yds, 3–12
  • St. Louis – Edwards 2 yd run (Bakken kick), 3–19
  • St. Louis – Williams 5 yd pass from Hart (Bakken kick), 3–26
  • St. Louis – Williams 9 yd pass from Hart (Bakken kick), 3–33
  • St. Louis – Hart 1 yd run (Bakken kick), 3–40
  • St. Louis – Shivers 1 yd run (Bakken kick), 3–47
  • Pittsburgh – Henderson 20 yd pass from Hanratty (Mingo kick), 10–47

Week 12 (Sunday December 7, 1969): Dallas Cowboys[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 3 7 0 0 10
Steelers 0 0 0 7 7

at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 24,990
  • Referee: Bernie Ulman
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Dallas – FG M. Clark 32 yds, 0–3
  • Dallas – Morton 12 yd run (M. Clark kick), 0–10
  • Pittsburgh – Henderson 29 yd pass from Shiner (Mingo kick), 7–10

Week 13 (Sunday December 14, 1969): New York Giants[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Giants 7 7 0 7 21
Steelers 0 14 0 3 17

at Pitt Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 21,067
  • Referee: Fred Silva
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • New York Giants – Koy 34 yd pass from Tarkenton (Gogolak kick), 0–7
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 15 yd pass from Shiner (Mingo kick), 7–7
  • Pittsburgh – Jefferson 9 yd pass from Shiner (Mingo kick), 14–7
  • New York Giants – Morrison 10 yd pass form Tarkenton (Gogolak kick), 14–14
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 41 yds, 17–14
  • New York Giants – Koy 4 yd pass from Tarkenton (Gogolak kick), 17–21

Week 14 (Sunday December 21, 1969): New Orleans Saints[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 14 0 7 3 24
Saints 0 10 7 10 27

at Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Game time:
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 72,256
  • Referee: Fred Swearingen
  • TV announcers:

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – Gros 8 yd run (Mingo kick), 7–0
  • Pittsburgh – Gros 16 yd run (Mingo kick), 14–0
  • New Orleans – Poage 3 yd pass from Kilmer (Dempsey kick), 14–7
  • New Orleans – FG Dempsey 38 yds, 14–10
  • New Orleans – Poage 3 yd pass from Kilmer (Dempsey kick), 14–17
  • Pittsburgh – Gros 7 yd run (Mingo kick), 21–17
  • Pittsburgh – FG Mingo 11 yds, 24–17
  • New Orleans – FG Dempsey 40 yds, 24–20
  • New Orleans – Livingston 3 yd run (Dempsey kick), 24–27

Standings[edit]

NFL Century
W L T PCT PF PA STK
Cleveland Browns 10 3 1 .769 351 300 L-1
New York Giants 6 8 0 .429 264 298 W-3
St. Louis Cardinals 4 9 1 .308 314 389 L-3
Pittsburgh Steelers 1 13 0 .071 218 404 L-13

References[edit]