#TBT Sports Blog: Pittsburgh Steelers’ Steel Curtain

The Steel Curtain

This immovable football wall stood stoutly as the best defensive team ever assembled in the history of the National Football League.

It blitzes into today’s #TBT sports blog.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s totally tyrannized opposing NFL offenses.

The stellar defense helped the Steelers franchise capture all four Super Bowls they appeared in during that era – IX in 1975, X in 1976, XIII in 1979 and XIV in 1980.

Football fans apply the Steel Curtain nickname to Pittsburgh’s defensive ends L.C. Greenwood and Dwight White and defensive tackles Ernie Holmes and Mean Joe Greene, who won NFL Defensive Player of the Year in both 1972 and 1974.

Steel Curtain Reference Began as a Pittsburgh Radio Station Promo

However, the Steel Curtain reference began as part of a 1971 Pittsburgh radio station promotion.

The sports station asked fans to create interest from the Steelers’ fan base and coin a clever name to capture the team’s ultra tough and stingy 11 man defense.

Out of only 17 entries, WTAE Radio chose ninth grader Gregory Kronz’s Steel Curtain entry.

Blue-collared steel mill working Pittsburgh Steelers fans immediately embraced the Steel Curtain nickname. It quickly became a source of pride not only for the team, but also for the City of Pittsburgh.

Led by four future Hall of Famers, defensive tackle Greene, defensive back Mel Blount and linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert, the 1976 Steel Curtain defense is perhaps the best the NFL has ever witnessed.

The team led the league in scoring defense with a 9.86 ppg average and total defense average of 260 ypg.

Anchored by the 1976 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Jack Lambert, the Steelers recorded five shutouts. Pittsburgh kept teams out of the end zone a remarkable eight of nine games during one stretch.

Pittsburgh’s Defense Dominated the 1970’s

During the 1970s the dominant Steel Curtain finished in all top 10 defensive categories every season. As a result of the play of two of their Hall of Fame athletes, the NFL instituted new rules.

Because of their inability to block defensive lineman Joe Greene, NFL offensive linemen could now utilize their hands to block.

And, because of defensive back Mel Blount’s blanketing bump and run coverage, receivers could not be touched after they were five yards off the line of scrimmage.

Admiring fans may struggle to find the right words, like immovable or invincible, to accurately label the Steelers’ defense of the 1970s.

My suggestion is simple. Just refer to these Steel Curtain defenders as four time Super Bowl Champions.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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