Steelers Flashback: Don’t Mess With Jack Lambert

New series I’ll pop up from time to time to try and make the offseason at least feel a little quicker.

The Internet is a great place for some wayback Pittsburgh Steelers‘ games that you and I have long forgotten about (or not been alive to remember in the first place). That in mind, we’ll occasionally post clips of random – and sometimes meaningful – plays from at least a decade ago.

Most Steelers fans know, you certainly do if you lived through it, the lore of the Steelers’ 1976 team. Arguably the best they ever assembled during their dynasty run, even if that squad didn’t win one of their four Lombardi’s of the 70s. A historically great defense, a rugged offense, led by stellar coaching.

But there’s one moment, which some of you may have seen before, that captures the heart and soul of the team. The terrible start they got off too, 1-4 through the first five weeks, and losing Terry Bradshaw after Turkey Joe Jones’ dirty tackle that knocked the Blonde Bomber out for several weeks.

That put the onus on the defense to step up with rookie QB Mike Kruczek all that was left. The Cincinnati Bengals knew it too and did their darndest to knock him out of the game. Kruczek rolled to his right, dashed to the sidelines, and took two steps out of bounds before linebacker Bo Harris blasted him.

Jack Lambert, leaping off the bench, voiced his displeasure, and probably would’ve done a lot more if not for teammates holding him back.

Consider that a spark, a blessing in disguise, Pittsburgh desperately needed. A wake-up call, cold water on the face, and from there, the Steelers never looked back. Kruczek did the bare minimum that day, completing only five passes and a sixth wound up in the hands of the Bengals, but the defense told him to step aside that day.

Bengals QB Ken Anderson was picked off twice – once by Glen Edwards and then again, appropriately by Lambert shown below – and Cincy was held to only 171 total yards of offense and six points.

The Steelers won 23-6, Franco Harris carried the ball 41 times – still a single-game franchise record, by the way – for 143 yards. Pittsburgh controlled the ball, the clock, and for the rest of the season, their destiny. They won the final nine games of the regular season, storming back to win the AFC Central.

Pittsburgh would go on to beat the Baltimore Colts in their first playoff matchup but battered and bruised against Oakland in the AFC Championship, they finally fell, halting their win streak to 11 games.

There’s plenty more we could talk about that year. How dominant that defense was, how committed the Steelers were to running the football (their 653 attempts is also a Steelers record, even in a 14 game season), and the resiliency they showed with their backs against the wall. I could write 1500 more words on it.

But that clips speaks volumes. Lambert was tired of losing.

So the Steelers simply didn’t lose again.

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