The newspaper kid who hits your roof with the morning Bugle could have thrown four touchdown passes against the Redskins today.
Terry Bradshaw did it, and the Steeler quarterback couldn't even remember two of them. He was knocked out at the time, only he didn't know it until later.
"I couldn't think that well," Bradshaw said, speaking of the half-hour's work he did today after the Redskins rang the bell.
Patton's tanks couldn't have reached Bradshaw behind his offensive linemen. Safe back there forever, Bradshaw waited until his pass-catchers, those marvels of nature named Swann and Stallworth, eluded their defenders. Such evasive action sometimes took, oh, two seconds. How wide open did they get? If a Redskin defender wanted to talk to Swann, he had to dial an area code.
Some of this Terry Bradshaw remembered. The 65-yard touchdown pass to John Stallworth early in the second half, he didn't remember. He didn't even remember if he, a 10-year veteran quarterback, called the play. By then, center Mike Webster was working overtime as Bradshaw's brain. Webster called some plays for him.
"Webbie! Hey, Webbie!" Bradshaw shouted across the Steelers' dressing room. "Did I call the play to John?"
"You called it," Webster said.
"All I called were the passes, right?" Bradshaw said, trying to help newspapermen understand how a part-time unconscious quarterback passes for 311 yards.
"You were fine on the passes," Webster said. "It was the runs you couldn't handle."
About here, the devil took control of Webster.
"You looked good," the center said to the quarterback. "Your eyes were about this dilated." Webster made a circle with his fingers about the size of a half dollar.
"Like I been smokin' something good huh?" Bradshaw said.
"You were saying, 'Hey, Webbie. you gotta help me, I don't know where I am,'" Webster said. "I told Chuck (Noll, the Steeler coach) and he said, 'If Terry throws that way dingy, we ought to get him dingy all the time.'"
"He said that?" Bradshaw said.
"He said, 'You think he's not that way all the time? You ought to see him in quarterback meetings.'"
"Thanks, Webbie, you're really helping my image," Bradshaw said.
The world knows Terry Bradshaw can't spell cat if you spot him the C and A. That's Thomas Henderson's line from the last Super Bowl. If Bradshaw is a dumb quarterback, how come he is the only quarterback, how come he is the only quarterback in history to win three Super Bowls? Einstein figuring out relativity didn't do much better than Bradshaw figuring out the Redskin's tricks today.
The Redskins tried everything. They wanted to stop the Steeler running attack. So they brought their safetymen up close to the line. They blitzed their linebackers. They said,"'here we are, fellas, we are going to stop your run, so you better pass the ball if you expect to move it." And Terry Bradshaw said, "I'll come out throwing on first down if that's what they want,"
They did and he did, and Pittsburgh won so easily that you had to think the Redskins were a terrible team today.
Not at all. The Redskins were all right. Pittsburgh is simply wonderful. In three weeks now, the Steelers have beaten Denver, 42-7; Dallas, 14-3, and the Redskins, 38-7. The Steelers have a whole lot of what the Redskins don't have much of: ectraordinary talent.
The Steelers can win with frightening defense, runners who are made of steel, a quarterback who can do it in a daze, and flying pass catchers who by NFL law ought to play with one hand tied behind their backs.
As if that would matter. On his 65-yard touchdown play, Stallworth caught the ball with one hand. First the pass bounced off Stallworth's shoulder. A mere mortal Redskin tried to knock down the pass. The ball bounced into the air, looping crazily, and when it came down a little, Stallworth reached out with his left hand and grabbed it, the way a guy would grab a loaf of bread off the grocery shelf.
Why didn't Stallworth reach over with his right hand, to catch the ball with both hands?
"I didn't need it," Stallworth said.
Stallworth smiled. "I had a good time today," said the fellow who caught six passes for 126 yards.
He thought it would be a good day from the time the Steelers first studied films of the Redskins this week. The Steelers saw the Redskins liked to play man-to-man coverage on the receivers, instead of the zones and double coverage most teams use. The Redskins go man to man because their cornerbacks, Lemar Parrish and Joe Lavender, are exceptional players able to handle most receivers. By not doubling on receivers, the Redskins have more defenders against the run. A nice idea against most people. Not against the Steelers.
"John and I always prefer man to man," said Lynn Swann, who alone among receivers ought to be called elegant. "If a team wants to do that, and the Redskins did it most all day, John and I will get open."
Someone put the basic question to Swann: If the Steelers can kill you with Franco Harris running or Bradshaw passing to Stallworth and Swann, what sort of defense would beat them?
"I don't know," Swann answered.
A smile. "But I do know I wouldn't play man to man all day long." Swann caught five passes for 106 yards.
"Contrary to what was said last week by Dallas." said Mean Joe Green, the Steelers' patriarchal defensive tackle, "we are not just a physical ball club. We do a pretty great job of figuring out what other teams are trying to do to us. Nobody is better prepared than Terry Bradshaw. Preparation and execution, that's what we have."
Greene compares this Pittsburgh offensive line to the great lines that made Larry Csonka famous in Miami.
"Our offense can do about anything imaginable," Greene said. "They can play the way Dallas does, trying to overpower you. And passing, that offensive lines gives Terry an hour if he needs it.
"That offensive line is pretty astute, too. They can pull, they can trap, they can pass block, they can blow you off the ball. And around the league, nobody knows who coaches our offensive line."
The coach's name is Rollie Dotsch, whose arrival on the staff last season coincided with the Steelers' emergence as a team that not only could run but also could pass. Rollie Dotsch. The Redskins ought to cross him off their Christmas list.