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The Steelers 1979 season begins here>>>

Browns Alter Defensive Alignment (UPI)

The Cleveland Browns have reconstructed their defensive line for their game against the Steelers.
Left end Lyle Alzado has been switched to right tackle and Mike St. Clair has been reinstalled as the regular left end – giving the team a front four of St. Clair, Alzado, Mickey Sims at left tackle and Jack Gregory at right end.

Coach Sam Rutigliano said the Browns would use a 3-4 defense in certain situations. Sims will be at nose guard, flanked by Alzado and Gregory with Robert L. Jackson moving in as the fourth linebacker to team with Dick Ambrose, Charlie Hall and Clay Matthews.

“I can’t play cat and mouse,” Rutigliano said. “I don’t give a damn whether Chuck Noll knows today or tomorrow (about the Browns 3-4 defense.)

The three-man line presents problems in rushing the passer, but it could give us extra pass coverage. Pittsburgh is so sophisticated in its offense with guard and tackle traps that having even one man who doesn’t know everything we’re doing can really kill us.”

1979 NFL playoff process

Houston beat Dallas 30-24 in the Thanksgiving game which made the situation at the top of the AFC Central even more concerning for Steeler fans who would be examining the NFL’s playoff procedure. Houston moved to top of the division with a 10-3 record while Pittsburgh were on 9-3 and Cleveland one game further behind.

The Steelers aim to get into the playoffs with home field advantage would require them to win the division and have the best record in the AFC. Under the league’s system, the two wild card teams (the teams other than the division champions with the best records) play each other in the first round.

The winner of the wildcard game then plays the division champion with the best record while the other two division champions meet.

A league rule doesn’t allow teams from the same division playing in anything less than the conference championship game to decide which team goes to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers needed to win their remaining games including their Monday Night game in Houston on December 10 to ensure they won the division title.

Pittsburgh Press cartoon

Steel Curtain Ready to Swipe at Sipe

The week 6 win in Cleveland saw the Steelers give up 35 points to the Browns when their quarterback Brian Sipe picked on Dirt Winston throughout the game. Steelers injuries forced Coach Noll to insert Winston at a strange outside linebacker position.

Mel Blount, who was the cornerback behind Winston, had his worst game of the season, giving up a pair of touchdowns to Dave Logan. The Steelers secondary sprung leaks, and Logan, Ozzie Newsome and Reggie Rucker were wide open and collected five touchdown passes from Sipe.

“It wasn’t just Winston’s fault, or Blunt’s fault,” acknowledged defensive backfield coach Dick Walker. “There was a general breakdown. It was our worst day, no doubt about it.”

Winston was out to put the past behind him when the Browns visit Pittsburgh. “I’m looking to redeem myself if I start,” Winston said. “I’ll be fired up. We’ll be at home and this time the defensive unit will be introduced at the start of the game. It’s our turn.

Sipe picked on me in our first game, I know that.  I knew it would happen before the game began. I was getting on the job training. Now I’m more accustomed to the position. We’ll see if they can throw on me now.

What happened the last time will make us want it that much more. We can play the pass better now and I’ve never had any problems against the run.


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The Steelers 1979 season updated October 19th 2020.

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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