The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl football game today, 35-31, over the Dallas Cowboys, and if other Supies have put America to sleep, this one will keep us up all night. Seven touchdown passes! Lynn Swann flies! A guy steals the ball from Terry Bradshaw and runs to a TD! Fumbles and fights! Seminaked streakers and beer-sotted crazies! Supie lives!
Because the first 12 Super Bowls so often matched a great team against a nervous team, the games were dull. The good team had only to wait for the inferiors to make mistakes. Not today. The Steelers and Cowboys were the best teams ever matched in this game, and it showed.
Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers, the best quarterback in the National Football League, threw four touchdown passes, a game record.His favorite receiver, Swann, caught six passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Two quick touchdowns in the last quarter put Pittsburgh ahead, 35-17. But before any of the estimated 100 million television could as much yawn here came the Cowboys scoring twice themselves in the last five minutes.
And only when the Steelers' Rocky Bleier covered an onside kick in the last 20 seconds were the Steelers safe in victory, a victory that made them the first team ever to win three Super Bowls, a victory celebrated long into the night at the Derby Bar in Pittsburgh.
Chuckie Wright owns that saloon. He says there is a fight there every night. Outside the Orange Bowl today, Chuckie figured it was 1,500 miles, 23 1/2 hours and 12 cases of Iron City beer from Pittsburgh to Miami. He drove a motor home.
"We're the biggest pigs in the world," said Wright, 30, who is built like a beer keg. "But us Steeler fans are real people. We ain't afraid to get arrested."
"Them Cowboy fans," said Pork, who said he had no last name and couldn't remember if he had a job, "are hiding in their 65-acre gardens in Fort Lauderdale. Them's rasslin' swans and ducks. We threw a nekkid girl up in the air all night."
This was two hours before kickoff. Wright, Pork and about 20 buddies circled the Orange Bowl in their motor home. In a stunning upset, they were not arrested, though they seemed hard at work on public intoxication, indecent exposure and cruelty to Cowboy fans. Look at this: Wright's motor home carries two bed-sheet banners, "Lambert's Looney Legion" and "Bradshaw's Bombers," in honor of the quarterback and linebacker Jack Lambert. The Steeler theme song blares from a loudspeaker atop the vehicle, where five Iron City's crazies are dancing in facsimiles of Steeler uniforms.
Only now they are not dancing. As they pass a rival motor home decorated in the elegant silver and blue of the Cowboys, the five Steeler dancers are unbuttoning their football pants.
"We mooned 'em good," said Chuckie Wright. "Them Cowboy fans ain't real people. They just sat there, counting their cows."
Unlike ballet, whose patrons sit in reverent silence as art unfolds, football makes its paying customers part of the show. So the World Championship Game, as Supie is officially known, brings the fans to the top of their games. Blinded by love, they pay $10 for a Super Bowl T-shirt, $75 for a portrait of Tony Dorsett, $20 to park a block from the stadium, $6.50 for a record of the game's halftime show, and $100 for a $30 ticket to the game.
Nearly 80,000 people came to the Orange Bowl today under gray clouds lingering after an early-morning rainstorm. Pete Rozelle, the National Football League commissioner, said security was about the same as in years past, but policemen seemed at work every five feea. Attack dogs stood at the corner of the enr zones and plainsclothes Miami detectives worked the crowd as part of an antiterrerist plan.
So with 9 zillion cops working to prevent a "Black Sunday" incident -- in the movie by that name, terrorists hijack the Goodyear blimp and threaten to attack the Super Bowl -- what happens? A guy wearing only a yellow towel around his waist runs the length of the field after Pittsburgh's last touchdown, gathering cheers all the way.
Though the clouds forced cancellation of a three-man parachute drop into the stadium with the American flag -- the NFL would not mind if the world believed football was a patriot's gift from heaven -- connoiseurs of wretched excess applauded the appearance of the 36 Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in a pre-game routine, to say nothing of NFL pioneer George Halas diving to midfield in a 1920 touring car to do the coin flip.
The Rozelle's estimate, the NFL spent $1 million to put on this Super Bowl. Hard-hearts say at least 15 cents of that went into the halftime show. The show featured 400 singers and dancers cavorting on 10,000 square feet of sail cloth painted as a map of the Caribbean Sea islands. At one point, a boat "sailed" the sea; it lost verisimilitude when a motor went bad and five men had to walk-push the ship across the ersatz sea.
In years past, such wretched excess saved the day by giving the paying customers something to remember other than numbing defensive play that may turn on a George Allen, say, but leaves the rest of us in dreamland. At last, though, football was the thing, with the teams scoring five first-half touchdowns when the best any other Supie teams had done was three.
Bradshaw completed 11 of 18 passes in the first half for 253 yards, three more than the full-game record set in the very first Super Bowl by that leg-end of yore, Bart Starr. By game's end, Bradshaw had thrown for 318 yards, a personal career high.
There were four fumbles, two interceptions, a half-dozen quickly extinguished fights and, that rarest of sights, a stomp of disgust from Dallas Coach Tom Landry when an official's disputed call hurt the Cowboys terribly in the fourth quarter.