1973 Pittsburgh Steelers season

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1973 Pittsburgh Steelers season
Head coach Chuck Noll
Owner Art Rooney
Home field Three Rivers Stadium
Results
Record 10–4
Division place 2nd AFC Central
Playoff finish Lost Divisional Playoffs (Raiders) 33–14
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros
Team MVP Ronnie Shanklin

The 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the team's 41st season in the National Football League. The team finished second in the AFC Central division, but qualified for the postseason for the second consecutive season. The Steelers got off to a terrific start winning eight of their first nine games. However, a costly three game losing streak would put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Steelers would recover to win their last two games, but had to settle for a Wild Card berth with a 10-4 record. The Steelers would lose in the playoffs to the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in Oakland.

The 1973 Steelers' pass defense is arguably the greatest in the history of the NFL. Their defensive passer rating—the quarterback passer rating of all opposing quarterbacks throughout the season—was 33.1, an NFL record for the Super Bowl era.

According to Cold Hard Football Facts:[1]

Pittsburgh's pass-defense numbers that year were stunning. Opposing passers compiled the following stat-line:

  • 164 of 359 (45.7%) for 1,923 yards, 5.36 [yards-per-attempt], 11 [touchdowns] and 37 [interceptions]

The figure that leaps screaming off the sheet is the amazing 37 picks in 14 games. The 2009 Jets, by comparison, allowed a puny 8 TDs in 16 games, but hauled in just 17 picks.

Pittsburgh's all-time best pass defense was an equal-opportunity unit: Mike Wagner led the team with 8 INT, but 10 other guys recorded at least one pick. Amazing. Eleven defenders boasted at least one INT for Pittsburgh that season. The entire starting secondary recorded 24 picks alone, and Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount was last on the list: Wagner (8), safety Glen Edwards (6), cornerback John Rowser (6) and Blount (4).

Personnel[edit]

Staff[edit]

1973 Pittsburgh Steelers staff
Front office
  • President – Arthur J. Rooney
  • Vice President – John R. McGinley
  • Vice President – Daniel M. Rooney
  • Vice President – Arthur J. Rooney, Jr.
  • Public Relations Director – Ed Kiely
  • Traveling Secretary – James A. Boston
  • Controller – Robert P. Quinn
  • Publicity Director – Joe Gordon
  • 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, Orthopedic – Dr. John Best
  • Team Physician, M.D. – Dr. David S. Huber
  • Team Dentist – Dr. Robert Gray
  • Trainer – Ralph Berlin
  • Assistant Trainer – Robert Milie
  • Equipment Manager – Anthony Parisi
  • Field Manager – Jack Hart

[2]

Roster[edit]

1973 Pittsburgh Steelers final roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad

[3] [4] [5] [6]


Rookies in italics
46 Active, 1 Inactive, 1 Practice squad

Offseason[edit]

NFL Draft[edit]

Team Rd Pick Name Pos College
PIT 1 24 J.T. Thomas DB Florida St.
PIT 2 50 Ken Phares DB Mississippi St.
PIT 3 76 Roger Bernhardt G Kansas
PIT 4 102 Gail Clark LB Michigan St.
PIT 5 106 Dave Reavis T Arkansas
PIT 5 128 Larry Clark LB Northern Illinois
PIT 6 140 Ron Bell RB Illinois St.
PIT 6 154 Glenn Scolnik WR Indiana
PIT 7 180 Nate Dorsey WR Miss Valley St.
PIT 8 192 Loren Toews LB California
PIT 8 206 Bill Janssen T Nebraska
PIT 9 232 Bracey Bonham G North Carolina Central
PIT 10 258 Don Wunderly DT Arkansas
PIT 11 284 Bob White DB Arizona
PIT 12 310 Willie Lee RB Indiana St.
PIT 13 336 Rick Fergerson WR Kansas St.
PIT 14 362 Roger Cowan DE Stanford
PIT 15 388 Charles Cross DB Iowa
PIT 16 414 Glen Nardi DT Navy
PIT 17 440 Mike Shannon DT Oregon St.

Preseason[edit]

Game summaries[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Game summaries[edit]

Week 1[edit]

1 234Total
Lions 0 0100 10
• Steelers 0 3714 24
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

Week 2[edit]

1 234Total
Browns 3 003 6
• Steelers 10 6107 33
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 12 – Steelers 3–0
  • Cleveland – FG Cockroft 43 – Tie 3–3
  • Pittsburgh – Fuqua 4 run (Gerela kick) – Steelers 10–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 40 – Steelers 13–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 26 – Steelers 16–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 44 – Steelers 19–3
  • Pittsburgh – Lewis 8 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick) – Steelers 26–3
  • Cleveland – FG Cockroft 28 – Steelers 26–6
  • Pittsburgh – Lewis 53 pass from Hanratty (Gerela kick) – Steelers 33–6

Week 3[edit]

1 234Total
• Steelers 3 31317 36
Oilers 0 700 7
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 20 – Steelers 3–0
  • Houston – Alston 7 pass from Pastorini (Butler kick) – Oilers 7–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 47 – Oilers 7–6
  • Pittsburgh – Bradshaw 1 run (kick failed) – Steelers 12–7
  • Pittsburgh – Russell 45 interception return (Gerela kick) – Steelers 19–7
  • Pittsburgh – Shanklin 26 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick) – Steelers 26–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 26 – Steelers 29–7
  • Pittsburgh – Edwards 86 interception return (Gerela kick) – Steelers 36–7

Week 4[edit]

1 234Total
Chargers 0 0021 21
• Steelers 17 2100 38
Game summary[edit]

Johnny Unitas playing for San Diego is knocked out of the game after completing only 3 of 15 passes for 24 yards and 3 interceptions.

Scoring Drives:

Week 5[edit]

1 234Total
Steelers 0 007 7
• Bengals 6 373 19
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

  • Cincinnati – FG Muhlmann 20 – Bengals 3–0
  • Cincinnati – FG Muhlmann 19 – Bengals 6–0
  • Cincinnati – FG Muhlmann 20 – Bengals 9–0
  • Cincinnati – Clark 3 run (Muhlmann kick) – Bengals 16–0
  • Cincinnati – FG Muhlmann 41 – Bengals 19–0
  • Pittsburgh – P. Pearson 1 run (Gerela kick) – Bengals 19–7

Week 6[edit]

1 234Total
Jets 7 700 14
• Steelers 0 9314 26
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

Week 7[edit]

1 234Total
Bengals 0 607 13
• Steelers 3 7100 20
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

Week 8 (Monday November 5, 1973): Washington Redskins[edit]

1 234Total
Redskins 3 337 16
• Steelers 7 707 21
Game summary[edit]

Joe Gilliam makes his Monday night debut.

Scoring Drives:

Week 9[edit]

1 234Total
• Steelers 0 773 17
Raiders 0 306 9
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

Week 10[edit]

1 234Total
• Broncos 3 3710 23
Steelers 3 307 13
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

  • Denver – FG Turner 32 – Broncos 3–0
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 15 – Tie 3–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 13 – Steelers 6–3
  • Denver – FG Turner 11 – Tie 6–6
  • Denver – Little 10 run (Turner kick) – Broncos 13–6
  • Pittsburgh – Shanklin 42 pass from Hanratty (Gerela kick) – Tie 13–13
  • Denver – FG Turner 46 – Broncos 16–13
  • Denver – Odoms 2 pass from Johnson (Turner kick) – Broncos 23–13

Week 11[edit]

1 234Total
Steelers 7 333 16
• Browns 7 707 21
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – Shanklin 9 pass from Gilliam (Gerela kick) – Steelers 7–0
  • Cleveland – Phipps 1 run (Cockroft kick) – Tie 7–7
  • Cleveland – Pruitt 15 pass from Phipps (Cockroft kick) – Browns 14-7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 24 – Browns 14-10
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 14 – Browns 14-13
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 20 – Steelers 16–14
  • Cleveland – Pruitt 19 run (Cockroft kick) – Browns 21–16

Week 12 (Monday December 3, 1973): Miami Dolphins[edit]

1 234Total
Steelers 0 3716 26
• Dolphins 20 1000 30
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

Week 13[edit]

1 234Total
Oilers 7 000 7
• Steelers 3 14106 33
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

Week 14[edit]

1 234Total
• Steelers 7 71310 37
49ers 0 707 14
Game summary[edit]

John Brodie's number was retired prior to game

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – Rowser 71 interception return (Gerela kick) – Steelers 7–0
  • San Francisco – Hall recovered blocked punt in end zone (Gossett kick) – Tie 7–7
  • Pittsburgh – P. Pearson 1 run (Gerela kick) – Steelers 14–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 27 – Steelers 17–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 27 – Steelers 20–7
  • Pittsburgh – Lewis 50 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick) – Steelers 27–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 35 – Steelers 30–7
  • Pittsburgh – Steve Davis 1 run (Gerela kick) – Steelers 37–7
  • San Francisco – Atkins 3 run (Gossett kick) – Steelers 37–14

Standings[edit]

AFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Cincinnati Bengals 10 4 0 .714 4–2 8–3 286 231 W6
Pittsburgh Steelers 10 4 0 .714 4–2 7–4 347 210 W2
Cleveland Browns 7 5 2 .571 4–2 6–3–2 234 255 L2
Houston Oilers 1 13 0 .071 0–6 1–10 199 447 L6

Postseason[edit]

Game summaries[edit]

AFC Divisional Playoff[edit]

1 234Total
Steelers 0 707 14
• Raiders 7 31310 33
  • Date: December 23
  • Location: Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California
  • Game attendance: 50,094
  • Referee: Pat Haggerty
Game summary[edit]

Scoring Drives:

  • Oakland – Hubbard 1 run (Blanda kick) – Raiders 7–0
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 25 – Raiders 10–0
  • Pittsburgh – B. Pearson 4 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick – Raiders )10–7
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 31 – Raiders 13–7
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 22 – Raiders 16–7
  • Oakland – Brown 54 interception return (Blanda kick) – Raiders 23–7
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 10 – Raiders 26–7
  • Pittsburgh – Lewis 26 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick) – Raiders 26–14
  • Oakland – Hubbard 1 run (Blanda kick) – Raiders 33–14

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cold Hard Football Facts: Shutdown! The greatest pass defenses in history
  2. ^ 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide. 
  3. ^ 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide. 
  4. ^ 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide. 
  5. ^ About Three Bricks Shy... and the Load Filled Up. 
  6. ^ "1973 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-12-17.