Terry Bradshaw had little snap in his passes today, but Green Bay center Buddy Aydelette had too much and the Pittsburgh Steelers escaped their fourth straight loss through the heroics of bit player Rocky Bleier late in the fourth quarter.
Bleier handled the ball on five straight plays, the last a four-yard touchdown pass from Bradshaw that gave the Steelers a 22-14 lead and ensured the 22-20 victory over the Packers.
The two-point difference could be traced to a snap by rookie Aydelette that sailed over the head of punter David Beverly and beyond the Green Bay end zone for a safety 2:48 into the game.
The Packers contributed to a Steeler touchdown in the second period on another poor snap by Aydelette that influenced punter Beverly to pass the ball, unsuccessfully, rather than kick it.
Referring to the points that his special teams yielded to the Steelers, including a blocked Green Bay conversion attempt, Coach Bart Starr said, "I don't think you give away a game, but that is how the game got away from us."
"I don't think the artificial turf here had anything to do with it," Ayadelette said. "It didn't bother me as I practiced snaps for 30 minutes before the game. On the first one, I must have released the ball too late and then had too much follow-through on it. On the second one, they (his teammates) said Beverly mishandled it."
"I could have kicked it," he said. "It was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I made the wrong decision.I felt sick about it."
That gave the Steelers possession on downs at the Green Bay 24. Bradshaw went to work on cornerback Eustus Hood on successive passes to wide receiver Lynn Swann, the second a seven-yarder for the touchdown and a 9-7 lead.
The thumb on Bradshaw's throwing hand was swollen twice the normal size at the joint and some of the throws sailed like Frisbees. He considered removing himself from the game.
He also suffered a bruised right elbow and was nursing a pinched nerve in his neck and a bruised left shoulder from a loss two weeks ago to Oakland.
The Steelers were nursing a 15-14 lead in the fourth quarter when Beverly got off a 28-yard punt, to the Pittsburgh 46.
At the Green Bay 42, Bleier entered the game and produced gains of 19, seven, five and seven yards, giving the Steelers a second and three at the Green Bay four. Bradshaw rolled to his right and found Bleier open in the end zone. Matt Bahr's conversion boosted the Steeler margin to 22-14, with 4:51 to play.
The Packers then went 84 yards to score, on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Dickey to wide receiver Aundra Thompson.