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The Steelers 1976 season begins here>>>


The Chargers coach Tommy Prothro had been watching film of the Steelers in preparation for their matchup in Pittsburgh. “The last two weeks they’ve looked just like they did last year,” offered Prothro and he would know how good they were as his team were beaten 37-0 in last year’s season opener.

“All teams to play near their best have to be a little desperate,” Prothro acknowledged. “It just took the Steelers a while to get desperate.”

With the development of quarterback Dan Fouts and aided by offensive assistant coach Bill Walsh and ex-Bengals wide receiver Charlie Joiner, the Chargers had improved from their 2-12 record of 1975. The running of Rickey Young has also added an extra dimension to the Chargers offense.

Prothro won a Rose Bowl at UCLA with a successful onside kick in the first half, so the Steelers would have to watch out for trick plays.

Steelers were favoured by 10.

1976 week 8: The Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4) vs the San Diego Chargers (4-3)

Mike Kruczek started the game as Coach Noll wanted to ease Terry Bradshaw back in. The Steelers offense stumbled through three quarters despite the introduction of Bradshaw at the end of the second period.

Larry Brown recovered a San Diego fumbled punt attempt midway through the second quarter, enabling Roy Gerela to kick a 36-yard field goal that was the only score in fifty minutes of football.

It took a trick play to pull the Steelers and the game out of its lethargy.

Frank Lewis media photoLooking like a sandlot version of a flea-flicker, Frank Lewis ran to his right on a reverse and was looking either to continue the run or pass to Ernie Pough. As Pough was covered and with the Chargers defense converging, Lewis spotted Bradshaw waving his arms so shot the ball laterally to his quarterback. Bradshaw ran a few yards and then fired it downfield to Randy Grossman who made a diving catch for a 19-yard gain.

That completion set the Steelers up on the Chargers 9 and two plays later, Bradshaw took the ball in from the one to inject some sparkle into the game and give Pittsburgh a 10-0 lead.

Five minutes later, the Steelers increased their lead when Bradshaw threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pough that completed a drive of 64 yards.

The Chargers brought on Neal Jeffrey at quarterback and his misdirected lateral was scooped up by John Banaszak who ran the 27 yards to the end zone. The touchdown was called back as the defense is not allowed to advance the ball, but Frenchy Fuqua took it over on third down with a 3-yard run to complete the scoring while Gerela missed the extra point.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 23 vs the San Diego Chargers 0
Three Rivers Stadium October 31st 1976; 45,484

Passing: Kruczek 2-6-20-0-0; Bradshaw 9-19-104-1TD-1INT
Fouts 11-26-97-0TD-1INT

Rushing: Harrison 13-108, Bleier 17-69, Kruczek 4-17, Harris 11-32, Deloplaine 3-17, Fuqua 3-11-1TD, Bradshaw 1-1-1TD

Receiving: Pough 3-29-1TD, Grossman 2-29, Lewis 1-15, Harrison 2-19, Bleier 2-21, Harris 1-11

The Steelers trick play was put in the game plan because Coach Noll thought the Chargers didn’t penetrate well and “that gives you time to horse around.”

“Chuck’s such a basic football teacher, I can’t see how he’d be doing things like that,” observed L.C. Greenwood. “I didn’t think it would work. I didn’t even see it.” Shaking his head, Greenwood added, “I didn’t think Chuck would try it. I guess he fooled me too.”

“Until that play,” said the Chargers Coach Prothro, ”we were in the ball game. Could we have won it? I don’t know. But when it’s three points, anything can happen.”

Bradshaw admitted that he was scared about returning from injury, adding, “I didn’t realise how nervous I was. Chuck sensed it too.”

“The defense against the run was extra special,” commented Noll on the low 44 yards they gave up.

AFC Central

Cleveland 6 Cincinnati 21
Houston 14 Baltimore Colts 38

Cincinnati 6-2
Houston 4-4
Pittsburgh 4-4
Cleveland 4-4









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