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The Steelers 1979 season begins here>>>

Steelers Tight with Davis

Sam Davis media photoFor almost a decade, they have called him “Tight Man” or simply, “Tight.” A few of the older Steelers set the tone for the rest. Pull them back down when they get too full of themselves, the way they were before they went to Cincinnati in October and were embarrassed. Pump them up when they need it, the way they did coming back from a thrashing in San Diego six weeks ago.

They are the keepers of the flame. The ones who lead by example and attitude and character, and all of those other coachly virtues. The ones who say in a lot of ways, we have been there, and we are going back.

Tight man. That is what the Steelers call Sam Davis, 34 years of tough, smart, seasoned guard. Tight. L.C. Greenwood who has a penchant for those things, hung the nickname on Davis years ago with the simple explanation, “Tight?... he keeps us together.”

Tight. Do the right thing at the right time. Not too high on the good days, not too low on the bad ones. Tight. The way the Steelers were yesterday when they snatched a reasonably competent Miami team by the neck, cuffed it about at will and then flung it into a corner of Three Rivers Stadium to await the arrival of Houston and Sunday’s AFC Championship game.

“Every game now IS the Super Bowl,” Davis was saying after Miami had been dispatched, 34-14, to a large degree on the strength of an offensive line thought to be badly depleted by injuries. “We have to remember that we can’t live on today. You enjoy it a little better, but next week it all starts again.”

A tone. Not too high. Not yet. Miami had been easy. The Dolphins had been looking for the classic Steeler trap blocking running game. They got helmets in the sternums, were blown off the line of scrimmage early and succumbed more than anything to a Steeler running game that built a 13-0 lead in the first eleven minutes and made Miami so vulnerable to the pass.

“When it counts,” Davis says, “we put it there. You get a taste of money; it makes it more valuable to you. It’s kill or be killed now. You can’t say ‘We’re the champions, we’re here.’ In the playoffs, you prove yourself… and you do it by taking it to them.”
Playing beside and steadying young left tackle Ted Petersen, Sam Davis took it to the Dolphins the way only a 34-year-old, slick, quick, seasoned NFL offensive lineman can take it to the guy on the other side of the football.
Power? On the second Steeler touchdown drive, two of the three pivotal plays were run by Sidney Thornton. Both were over left guard Sam Davis.

Quickness? On the third Steeler touchdown drive, Franco Harris swept left for five yards to keep it alive behind Davis lead block on linebacker Larry Gordon.

Finesse? Dolphin defensive end A.J. Duhe slipped inside a Petersen block and was reaching for Bradshaw. Davis picked him off. Bradshaw launched a pass to Lynn Swann.

Pass-protection? Bradshaw was sacked just once and had so much time to throw early on that at one point, he was 16 for 24 for two touchdowns, and the Dolphins were already dead.

“We fooled them a little,” Davis said, giggling at the thought. “It’s sort of an ego thing. A lot of people think that we can only trap block. People around the league say, ‘Well, they’re either going to pass or trap you.’ We did more straight blocking today.”

Trap blocking is largely deceit. Lure a defensive lineman or linebacker into the backfield, blow him away from the side. Straight blocking is muscle. Fire out, put your hat in his numbers, trample him. The lines which explode get the recognition; the finesse lines get yawns.

“Maybe our line is starting to get some of the recognition,” allows Davis, to whom attention is finally coming after a mere thirteen seasons. “I’ve gotten ticked off about it. We led the NFL in rushing, passing… almost broke the all-time offensive record… and even a player like Jon Kolb gets overlooked.

The Steelers do not overlook Davis. Before Super Bowl XIII, Joe Greene kept saying, “Watch Tight, watch Tight Man, he’s going to be important.” Davis was neutralising Dallas defensive tackle Randy White, considered by many the league’s premier defensive lineman. Later, one magazine referred to Davis and Kolb as the “league’s premier trapping combination.”

“Stability… that’s Tight.” Greene smiled yesterday. “He keeps people together. It’s the way he carries himself, the way he plays the game.”

And the way Davis was playing it in the fourth quarter against Miami, when he steered defensive end Doug Betters wide of Bradshaw on a pass, then slipped back inside to pick off a blitzing linebacker. Bradshaw’s pass led to the final Steeler touchdown.

Phil Musick
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 31



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The Steelers 1979 season updated March 8th 2021.

Ben's early Steelers games.

The Pittsburgh Americans' 1936 season added June 2020.

The Steelers 1978 season in full.
The Steelers 1977 season in full.
The Steelers 1976 season in full.

The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

The first NFL champions the 1902 Pittsburgh Stars added June 2016

The Pittsburgh Americans added August 2015.

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