The fired-up Baltimore Colts, led by Bert Jones, intercepted five Terry Bradshaw passes today and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-21.
Jones passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third as the Colts took sole possession of first place in the American Football Conference East with a 6-1 record.
The defeat dropped the Steelers one game behind the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Central. The surprisingly easy victory for the Colts partly avenged humiliating playoff defeats at the hands of Pittsburgh the last two seasons.
Bert Jones came out throwing on the first play from scrimmage.
He completed seven straight passes and hit for touchdowns to fullback Roosevelt Leaks, for 26 yards, and to halfback Lydell Mitchell, for 16 yards.
The Colts also scored in the first half on a 24-yard field goal by Toni Linhart.
The Steelers stopped the Colts at the end of the first quarter on a fourth-and -one gamble at the Pittsburgh one-yard line, when middle lineback Jack Lambert stopped fullback Don McCauley with no gain.
The Steelers reached the Baltimore 16-yard line in the second quarter on 16-yard lien in the second quarter on Jim Smith's 26-yard punt return and Terry Bradshaw's pass of 17 yards to wide receiver Lynn Swann. But Bradshaw fumbled and defensive end Ron Fernandez of the Colts recovered at the Baltimore 23.
Linhart missed a 29-yard field goal attempt near the end of the first half, leaving the Colts' lead at 17-0.
The Colts stepped into a 24-0 lead in the third quarter on a 25-yard touchdown run by fullback Ron Lee after free safety Lyle Blackwood of the Colts intercepted to Bradshaw pass and ran 26 yards to the Baltimore 29-yard line.
The Steelers finally scored after 34 minutes 2 seconds on a 32-yard pass from Bradshaw to wide receiver Lynn Swann, Roy Gerela converted. The Steeler drive for the touchdown covered 68 yards.
The Colts ran the score to 31-7 on a six yard run by quarterback Jones in the fourth quarter after Blackwood intercepted Bradshaw and ran 18 yards to the Pittsburgh 40.
The Steelers began to come apart at their 31-yard line when defensive end Dwight White became incensed at an offsides penalty, flung his helmet on the ground, and was charged with a personal foul. The ba11 was moved to Pittsburgh's 11-yard line after both penalties were assessed.
It was the ninth time the Colts got a first down by a penalty, setting a National Football League game record.
Bill Troup replaced Jones at quarterback for the Colts with four minutes remaining.
The Steelers went 71 yards to score on an 11-yard run by Franco Harris with 1:43 to go.
The Steelers recovered their ensuring onside kickoff and Bradshaw passed 49 yards to wide receiver Frank Lewis to the Baltimore 11-yard one.
On the fourth and two at the Baltimore three-yard line, Harris ran for another touchdown. Gerela converted with 71 seconds remaining, to cut the Steelers' lead to 31-21.
The Steelers have suffered 32 turnovers in seven games.
Following the 24-yard field goal by Toni Linhart on Baltimore's first possession, Bradshaw threw his first interception. The Colts were stopped at the one, but a face mask penalty on the ensuing punt gave Baltimore the ball at the Pittsburgh 26.
Jones then hit Leaks with a looping sideline pass to make it 10-0, and the TD reception by Mitchell came after the Colts forced another punt.
Harris, who gamed 10 of his 16 firsthalf yards on the final play of the second quarter, wound up with 85 on 20 carries. Mitchell, his old teammate at Penn State, ran 26 times for 99 yards.
Bradshaw, who had completed 67 per cent of his passes since suffering a hairline fracture of his left wrist three weeks ago, gained 234 yards passing on 11 completions in 26 attempts . Jones, was 10 for 20, gaining 170 yards.