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The Steelers 1979 season begins here>>>

Home Opener Has Kolb Ready for Oilers

Jon Kolb Upper deck imageThere was a special significance to the Steelers 16-13 overtime victory at New England. It was felt throughout the team, from President Dan Rooney down through the ranks.

Veteran Jon Kolb, who usually keeps his thoughts to himself, was so emotionally moved by it that he wants to share his response, and he hopes there will be a carryover to tomorrow’s big test with the Houston Oilers at Three Rivers.

“We’re a pretty quiet group,” said Kolb, “but that was the most noise I’ve heard in years in our locker room after a game – even the Super Bowl. The guys were really happy with how we pulled that one out.

We had our backs to the wall from the beginning in that ball game. From the time we left Pittsburgh, things started going wrong for us. We were short handed because of a series of injuries and we were going up against a good team that had a lot of emotion going for it.”

The Steelers did not play a pretty game, but they got out of New England with a victory on rookie Matt Bahr’s 41-yard field goal after being behind 13-6 at halftime.

“The thing that was most satisfying was that it seemed like we were getting stronger,” said Kolb, “and they were regressing. In the fifth quarter (that’s how he put it) there was a definite let up by the guys who were playing us.”

Kolb’s observation is one that is shared by offensive line coach Rollie Dotsch. “It’s something you can see and feel from the sidelines,” said Dotsch. “We had nine guys hurting out of 15. That leaves you with 38 players, except for using some guys in special situations. They were throwing fresh people at us, but our guys hung tough.”

Rooney remarked how well some of the fill-ins had performed, citing Steve Courson, Sidney Thornton and Ted Petersen on the offensive unit. “I expect a good tough game with Houston too,” said Rooney.

Some people in the Steelers organisation had been honest before the opener and expressed concern with how some of the young and really untested players would perform. Kolb contends that he and some of the older offensive linemen held no such fears for Courson and Petersen, who were filling in respectively for Gerry Mullins and Larry Brown.

“You could ask Sam Davis or Larry Brown and they will say the same thing,” said Kolb. “We thought those guys would come through all along. We know them and what they are all about. We’re always together and we work out all year long. We have confidence in each of them.”

Jim O’Brien Pittsburgh Press Sept 7 1979

Earl Campbell vs Franco Harris

In the 1978 season, rookie Earl Campbell had eight games when he rushed for over 100 yards. In Houston’s season opener last week against Washington, he rushed for 166 yards.

Campbell has played three games against the Steelers and has yet to have one with 100 yards on them. Pittsburgh’s home opener will see two of the leagues top three rushers compete against each other when Franco Harris shares the spotlight with Campbell.

“We are definitely different style runners,” said Harris. “With the Houston team, he’s the halfback, but he runs more like a fullback. I’m supposed to be the fullback with the Steelers, but a lot of the times I try to be a halfback.”

On the Oilers, Harris was prepared to acknowledge, “They’re really tough. They’re very physical people. Now, on top of that, they really have a winning attitude. They want to be Super Bowl champs.”

The Steelers go into the game as six-point favourites despite their injury woes.



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The Steelers 1979 season updated February 19th 2020.

Ben's early Steelers games.

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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