1973 Pittsburgh Steelers season

The 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the team's 41st season in the National Football League. The team finished second in the AFC Central division, but qualified for the postseason for the second consecutive season. The Steelers got off to a terrific start winning eight of their first nine games. However, a costly three game losing streak would put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Steelers would recover to win their last two games, but had to settle for a Wild Card berth with a 10-4 record. The Steelers would lose in the playoffs to the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in Oakland.

The 1973 Steelers' pass defense is arguably the greatest in the history of the NFL. Their defensive passer rating—the quarterback passer rating of all opposing quarterbacks throughout the season—was 33.1, an NFL record for the Super Bowl era.

According to Cold Hard Football Facts:[1]

Pittsburgh's pass-defense numbers that year were stunning. Opposing passers compiled the following stat-line:

  • 164 of 359 (45.7%) for 1,923 yards, 5.36 [yards-per-attempt], 11 [touchdowns] and 37 [interceptions]

The figure that leaps screaming off the sheet is the amazing 37 picks in 14 games. The 2009 Jets, by comparison, allowed a puny 8 TDs in 16 games, but hauled in just 17 picks.

Pittsburgh's all-time best pass defense was an equal-opportunity unit: Mike Wagner led the team with 8 INT, but 10 other guys recorded at least one pick. Amazing. Eleven defenders boasted at least one INT for Pittsburgh that season. The entire starting secondary recorded 24 picks alone, and Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount was last on the list: Wagner (8), safety Glen Edwards (6), cornerback John Rowser (6) and Blount (4).

1973 Pittsburgh Steelers season
Head coachChuck Noll
OwnerArt Rooney
Home fieldThree Rivers Stadium
Results
Record10–4
Division place2nd AFC Central
Playoff finishLost Divisional Playoffs (Raiders) 33–14
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros
Team MVPRonnie Shanklin

Personnel

Staff

1973 Pittsburgh Steelers staff
Front office
  • President – Arthur J. Rooney
  • Vice President – John R. McGinley
  • Vice President – Daniel M. Rooney
  • Vice President – Arthur J. Rooney, Jr.
  • Public Relations Director – Ed Kiely
  • Traveling Secretary – James A. Boston
  • Controller – Robert P. Quinn
  • Publicity Director – Joe Gordon
  • Ticket Manager – Joseph H. Carr
  • Director of Player Personnel – Dick Haley
  • Assistant Director of Player Personnel – Bill Nunn
  • Director of Professional Scouting – V. Timothy Rooney

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength – Louis Riecke
  • Flexibility – Paul Uram
  • Team Physician, Orthopedic – Dr. John Best
  • Team Physician, M.D. – Dr. David S. Huber
  • Team Dentist – Dr. Robert Gray
  • Trainer – Ralph Berlin
  • Assistant Trainer – Robert Milie
  • Equipment Manager – Anthony Parisi
  • Field Manager – Jack Hart

[2]

Roster

1973 Pittsburgh Steelers final roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad

  • 21 Glenn Scolnik WR

[3] [4] [5] [6]


Rookies in italics
46 Active, 1 Inactive, 1 Practice squad

Offseason

NFL Draft

Team Rd Pick Name Pos College
PIT 1 24 J.T. Thomas DB Florida St.
PIT 2 50 Ken Phares DB Mississippi St.
PIT 3 76 Roger Bernhardt G Kansas
PIT 4 102 Gail Clark LB Michigan St.
PIT 5 106 Dave Reavis T Arkansas
PIT 5 128 Larry Clark LB Northern Illinois
PIT 6 140 Ron Bell RB Illinois St.
PIT 6 154 Glenn Scolnik WR Indiana
PIT 7 180 Nate Dorsey WR Miss Valley St.
PIT 8 192 Loren Toews LB California
PIT 8 206 Bill Janssen T Nebraska
PIT 9 232 Bracey Bonham G North Carolina Central
PIT 10 258 Don Wunderly DT Arkansas
PIT 11 284 Bob White DB Arizona
PIT 12 310 Willie Lee RB Indiana St.
PIT 13 336 Rick Fergerson WR Kansas St.
PIT 14 362 Roger Cowan DE Stanford
PIT 15 388 Charles Cross DB Iowa
PIT 16 414 Glen Nardi DT Navy
PIT 17 440 Mike Shannon DT Oregon St.

Preseason

Game summaries

Regular season

Game summaries

Week 4

Johnny Unitas playing for San Diego is knocked out of the game after completing only 3 of 15 passes for 24 yards and three interceptions.

Week 8 vs Redskins

Joe Gilliam makes Monday Night Football debut

Week 10

1 234Total
• Broncos 3 3710 23
Steelers 3 307 13

Scoring Drives:

  • Denver – FG Turner 32 – Broncos 3–0
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 15 – Tie 3–3
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 13 – Steelers 6–3
  • Denver – FG Turner 11 – Tie 6–6
  • Denver – Little 10 run (Turner kick) – Broncos 13–6
  • Pittsburgh – Shanklin 42 pass from Hanratty (Gerela kick) – Tie 13–13
  • Denver – FG Turner 46 – Broncos 16–13
  • Denver – Odoms 2 pass from Johnson (Turner kick) – Broncos 23–13

Week 11

1 234Total
Steelers 7 333 16
• Browns 7 707 21

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – Shanklin 9 pass from Gilliam (Gerela kick) – Steelers 7–0
  • Cleveland – Phipps 1 run (Cockroft kick) – Tie 7–7
  • Cleveland – Pruitt 15 pass from Phipps (Cockroft kick) – Browns 14-7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 24 – Browns 14-10
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 14 – Browns 14-13
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 20 – Steelers 16–14
  • Cleveland – Pruitt 19 run (Cockroft kick) – Browns 21–16

Week 12 (Monday December 3, 1973): Miami Dolphins

1 234Total
Steelers 0 3716 26
• Dolphins 20 1000 30

Scoring Drives:

Week 13

1 234Total
Oilers 7 000 7
• Steelers 3 14106 33

Scoring Drives:

Week 14

1 234Total
• Steelers 7 71310 37
49ers 0 707 14

John Brodie's number was retired prior to game

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh – Rowser 71 interception return (Gerela kick) – Steelers 7–0
  • San Francisco – Hall recovered blocked punt in end zone (Gossett kick) – Tie 7–7
  • Pittsburgh – P. Pearson 1 run (Gerela kick) – Steelers 14–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 27 – Steelers 17–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 27 – Steelers 20–7
  • Pittsburgh – Lewis 50 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick) – Steelers 27–7
  • Pittsburgh – FG Gerela 35 – Steelers 30–7
  • Pittsburgh – Steve Davis 1 run (Gerela kick) – Steelers 37–7
  • San Francisco – Atkins 3 run (Gossett kick) – Steelers 37–14

Standings

AFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Cincinnati Bengals 10 4 0 .714 4–2 8–3 286 231 W6
Pittsburgh Steelers 10 4 0 .714 4–2 7–4 347 210 W2
Cleveland Browns 7 5 2 .571 4–2 6–3–2 234 255 L2
Houston Oilers 1 13 0 .071 0–6 1–10 199 447 L6

Postseason

Game summaries

AFC Divisional Playoff

1 234Total
Steelers 0 707 14
• Raiders 7 31310 33
  • Date: December 23
  • Location: Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California
  • Game attendance: 50,094
  • Referee: Pat Haggerty

Scoring Drives:

  • Oakland – Hubbard 1 run (Blanda kick) – Raiders 7–0
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 25 – Raiders 10–0
  • Pittsburgh – B. Pearson 4 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick) – Raiders 10–7
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 31 – Raiders 13–7
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 22 – Raiders 16–7
  • Oakland – Brown 54 interception return (Blanda kick) – Raiders 23–7
  • Oakland – FG Blanda 10 – Raiders 26–7
  • Pittsburgh – Lewis 26 pass from Bradshaw (Gerela kick) – Raiders 26–14
  • Oakland – Hubbard 1 run (Blanda kick) – Raiders 33–14

References

  1. ^ Cold Hard Football Facts: Shutdown! The greatest pass defenses in history
  2. ^ 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  3. ^ 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  4. ^ 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  5. ^ About Three Bricks Shy... and the Load Filled Up.
  6. ^ "1973 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP DET PIT
2 Steelers 11-yard field goal by Roy Gerela 0 3
3 Steelers Bradshaw 1-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick good 0 10
3 Lions Jessie 84-yard touchdown reception from Landry, Mann kick good 7 10
3 Lions 40-yard field goal by Mann 10 10
4 Steelers McMakin 24-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good 10 17
4 Steelers Shanklin 6-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good 10 24
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 10 24
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP CLE PIT
1 Steelers 12-yard field goal by Gerela 0 3
1 Browns 43-yard field goal by Cockroft 3 3
1 Steelers Fuqua 4-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick good 3 10
2 Steelers 40-yard field goal by Gerela 3 13
2 Steelers 26-yard field goal by Gerela 3 16
3 Steelers 44-yard field goal by Gerela 3 19
4 Steelers Lewis 8-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good 3 26
4 Browns 28-yard field goal by Cockroft 6 26
4 Steelers Lewis 53-yard touchdown reception from Hanratty, Gerela kick good 6 33
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 6 33
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP PIT HOU
1 Steelers 20-yard field goal by Gerela 3 0
2 Oilers Alston 7-yard touchdown reception from Pastorini, Butler kick good 3 7
2 Steelers 47-yard field goal by Gerela 6 7
3 Steelers Bradshaw 1-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick no good 12 7
3 Steelers Interception returned 45 yards for touchdown by Russell, Gerela kick good 19 7
4 Steelers Shanklin 26-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good 26 7
4 Steelers 26-yard field goal by Gerela 29 7
4 Steelers Interception returned 86 yards for touchdown by Edwards, Gerela kick good 36 7
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 36 7
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP SD PIT
1 Steelers Shanklin 12-yard touchdown reception from Bradshaw, Gerela kick good 0 7
1 Steelers Bradshaw 1-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick good 0 14
1 Steelers 38-yard field goal by Gerela 0 17
2 Steelers Davis 1-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick good 0 24
2 Steelers Blocked punt recovered in end zone for touchdown by Wagner, Gerela kick good 0 31
3 Steelers Shanklin 37-yard touchdown reception from Hanratty, Gerela kick good 0 38
4 Chargers LeVias 13-yard touchdown reception from Fouts, Wersching kick good 7 38
4 Chargers Jones 3-yard touchdown run, Wersching kick good 14 38
4 Chargers Holmes 1-yard touchdown run, Wersching kick good 21 38
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 21 38
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP PIT CIN
1 Bengals 20-yard field goal by Muhlmann 0 3
1 Bengals 19-yard field goal by Muhlmann 0 6
2 Bengals 20-yard field goal by Muhlmann 0 9
3 Bengals Clark 3-yard touchdown run, Muhlmann kick good 0 16
4 Bengals 41-yard field goal by Muhlmann 0 19
4 Steelers Pearson 1-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick good 7 19
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 7 19
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP NYJ PIT
1 Jets Riggins 1-yard touchdown run, Howfield kick good 7 0
2 Steelers 27-yard field goal by Gerela 7 3
2 Steelers 29-yard field goal by Gerela 7 6
2 Jets Caster 28-yard touchdown reception from Demory, Howfield kick good 14 6
2 Steelers 36-yard field goal by Gerela 14 9
3 Steelers 13-yard field goal by Gerela 14 12
4 Steelers Shanklin 16-yard touchdown reception from Hanratty, Gerela kick good 14 19
4 Steelers Harris 2-yard touchdown run, Gerela kick good 14 26
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 14 26
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP CIN PIT
1 Steelers 15-yard field goal by Roy Gerela 0 3
2 Bengals 17-yard field goal by Horst Muhlmann 3 3
2 Bengals 41-yard field goal by Horst Muhlmann 6 3
2 Steelers Ron Shanklin 51-yard touchdown reception from Terry Hanratty, Roy Gerela kick good 6 10
3 Steelers 18-yard field goal by Roy Gerela 6 13
3 Steelers John Fuqua 1-yard touchdown run, Roy Gerela kick good 6 20
4 Bengals Essex Johnson 16-yard touchdown reception from Ken Anderson, Horst Muhlmann kick good 13 20
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 13 20
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP WSH PIT
1 Redskins 30-yard field goal by Curt Knight 3 0
1 Steelers Preston Pearson 7-yard touchdown reception from Terry Hanratty, Roy Gerela kick good 3 7
2 Redskins 12-yard field goal by Curt Knight 6 7
2 Steelers Ron Shanklin 24-yard touchdown reception from Terry Hanratty, Roy Gerela kick good 6 14
3 Redskins 16-yard field goal by Curt Knight 9 14
4 Steelers Barry Pearson 46-yard touchdown reception from Joe Gilliam, Roy Gerela kick good 9 21
4 Redskins Larry Brown 17-yard touchdown reception from Billy Kilmer, Curt Knight kick good 16 21
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 16 21
Game information
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP PIT OAK
2 Steelers Ron Shanklin 14-yard touchdown reception from Terry Hanratty, Roy Gerela kick good 7 0
2 Raiders 40-yard field goal by George Blanda 7 3
3 Steelers Franco Harris 1-yard touchdown run, Roy Gerela kick good 14 3
4 Steelers 17-yard field goal by Roy Gerela 17 3
4 Raiders Fred Biletnikoff 27-yard touchdown reception from Daryle Lamonica, George Blanda kick no good 17 9
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 17 9
Franchise
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Division championships (23)
Conference championships (8)
League championships (6)
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Seasons (87)

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