The Pittsburgh Steelers will meet the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in the wild card round of the AFC playoffs. Despite numerous appearances by both franchises, this will be only the fourth time they will have played each other in the playoffs. Both teams were power houses during the 70’s accounting for 6 of the 10 Super Bowl champions. Even with that dominance, the two franchises only met twice during the decade. They would clash once more in 1985, and then not again until this season.
1972 AFC Championship – Miami 21 – Pittsburgh 17
The first time these two storied franchises met in the playoffs was in the 1972 AFC championship game. Miami was on there way to being the first and only undefeated Super Bowl champion. For Pittsburgh, it was just the beginning in what would turn out to be an NFL dynasty that would last through the rest of the decade. Bob Griese would not start the game, but would come in and lead the Dolphins to victory in the second half. Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw would injure himself on the opening drive of the game. He would not return until the fourth quarter to lead Pittsburgh on a touchdown drive that would cut the Dolphin lead to 21-17. Unfortunately, Bradshaw would throw interceptions in the next two drives of the game sealing the victory for Miami. To get an idea how much the NFL has changed over the years, the two teams only had 36 total passing attempts combined in the entire game! Landry Jones had 37 attempts on his own in last Sunday’s win over the Browns.
1979 AFC Divisional round – Pittsburgh 34 – Miami 14
These teams would not meet again until the divisional round of the 1979 playoffs. This time it was the Steelers who were on their way to a Super Bowl victory. It would be the last of the four Super Bowls that coach Chuck Knoll and his team would enjoy. Pittsburgh jumped out to a quick 20 – 0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Bob Griese was sacked eight times, and Larry Csonka was held to 20 yards rushing in what turned out to be the final game in his career. On offense, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth would each catch a touchdown pass while Franco Harris had 83 yards on the ground. Pittsburgh would go on to defeat the Houston Oilers in the AFC championship on their way to beating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.
1985 AFC Championship Miami 45 – Pittsburgh 28
In 1985, the Steelers still had a few holdovers from their 70’s dynasty teams. Players like Mike Webster, John Stallworth, and Donne Shell were still starting for the team. They were fresh off an upset of John Elway and the Denver Broncos when they traveled to Miami to face the Dolphins. Unfortunately the Steelers were no match for emerging super star Dan Marino. Marino torched the Steelers for 569 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Pittsburgh had a 14-10 lead midway through the second quarter on a 65 yard touchdown pass by quarterback Mark Malone to John Stallworth. Malone would throw for 312 yards himself, but 3 interceptions would be his undoing. Miami answered back with a 41 yard touchdown strike of it’s own to Mark Duper. Up 17-14, the Dolphins went on to rout the outmanned Steelers. Miami would not be able to continue the legacy of the winner of these two teams getting a Super Bowl ring. They ran into their own buzz saw in the form of Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. After that season the teams would head in opposite directions. Dan Marino and the Dolphins would never again reach the Super Bowl. Following a few down years, Pittsburgh would go back to there winning ways gaining two more Super Bowl titles.