1970 Pittsburgh Steelers Season
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1970 Pittsburgh Steelers Season
1970 Pittsburgh Steelers season
OwnerArt Rooney
Head coachChuck Noll
Home fieldThree Rivers Stadium
Division place3rd AFC Central
Playoff finishdid not qualify
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Prosnone
Team MVPJoe Greene

The 1970 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the franchise's 38th in the National Football League. They improved from a league-worst 1-13 record the previous year, finishing with a 5-9 record and third place in the newly formed AFC Central. The Steelers began the decade in a new conference and a new stadium with a new quarterback. After nearly 40 years in the NFL they shifted to the AFC, to complete the merger between the NFL and AFL. It was the NFL's weakest division that season, as the Steelers finished three games behind the division-winning Cincinnati Bengals--a team that was only in its third year of existence that season.


Coach Chuck Noll's reshaping of the squad from the year before continued for 1970.

Undoubtedly the greatest change that took place was Chuck Noll's trade of the team's lone superstar, Roy Jefferson. Although Jefferson was among the league leaders in receiving in 1968 and 1969, despite playing for the worst team in football with mediocre quarterbacks, he was sent packing after being publicly vocal in criticizing team management.[1] The trade sent Jefferson to Baltimore, where he earned a Super Bowl ring. Years later, Jefferson pinpointed what he had done to get traded.

"I was [in Baltimore] to make a statement. I wanted to show Pittsburgh they'd made a mistake in getting rid of me. I mean, I wasn't a 'yes' man for coach Chuck Noll. If you cursed me, I cursed you back. I messed over the curfew rules a lot and, in training camp, I'd park my car in the coaches' spaces."[2]

Hence, 1970 brought change with Ron Shanklin emerging as a steady receiver for the next few years until John Stallworth and Lynn Swann joined the team in 1974.[3][4]

As a result of the NFL-AFL merger being finalized for the 1970 season, three teams from the "old" NFL were moved to the newly formed AFC alongside the former AFL teams. The Steelers agreed to be one of them after their archrivals, the Cleveland Browns, volunteered to join the AFL franchises in the AFC. The Browns mainly joined because of the possibility of an intrastate rivalry with the AFL's Cincinnati Bengals (now known as the Battle of Ohio), largely due to the animosity at the time between Browns owner Art Modell and Bengals owner & coach Paul Brown, who was fired from the Browns by Modell after the 1962 season. The Steelers joined the AFC in order to keep the Browns-Steelers rivalry alive on a regular basis, due to the proximity of the cities of Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Another change came in the draft. For the first time since 1956, the Steelers owned the number one selection in the draft after winning a coin toss with the Chicago Bears for the top pick, as the two teams had identical 1-13 records in 1969. (The Steelers would have won the tiebreaker under the modern NFL tiebreaker rules anyway, since the Bears' one win was against the Steelers in week 8 of that season.)

1970 Pittsburgh Steelers draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 1 Terry Bradshaw * +  QB Louisiana Tech
2 28 Ron Shanklin *  WR North Texas
3 53 Mel Blount * +  CB Southern
4 80 Ed George  T Wake Forest
5 105 Jon Staggers  DB Missouri
6 132 Manuel Barrera  LB Kansas State
6 155 Clarence Kegler  T South Carolina State
7 157 Terry Brennan  T Notre Dame
8 184 Dave Smith  WR Indiana (Pa.)
9 209 Carl Crennel  LB West Virginia
10 236 Isaiah Brown  DB Stanford
11 261 Calvin Hunt  C Baylor
12 288 Rick Sharp  DT Washington (St. Louis)
13 313 Billy Main  RB Oregon State
14 340 Bert Askson  LB Texas Southern
15 365 Glen Keppy  DT Wisconsin-Platteville
16 392 Frank Yanossy  DT Tennessee
17 417 Harry Key  TE Mississippi Valley State
      Made roster    +   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

In the 1970 NFL Draft, only two Hall of Famers were selected in all 17 Rounds and 442 Picks. One being 1st Round, 1st Pick selection Terry Bradshaw, and the second being 3rd Round, 53rd Pick Mel Blount. Bradshaw would later become a Hall of Fame Inductee in 1989, and Blount became an inductee in 1989 as well. Also, both players were part of the 70s Steeler Dynasty. In his 14-year professional career, Bradshaw got off on a bumpy start from 1970-1975. Bradshaw threw a career-high 24 interceptions and only 6 touchdown passes. In wasn't until 1976 when Bradshaw's career had begun to peak. Blount's career was an overall consistent one. In 1975, he intercepted 11 passes for 121 yards.

In 1966, the NFL agreed on a merger with the rival AFL (American Football League). In 1970, the merger became final, as a result of the merger, the AFC (American Football Conference) featuring all the AFL teams and the NFC (National Football Conference) featuring all the "old" NFL teams. Two teams from the NFL were asked to join the AFL in the AFC, the Baltimore Colts, and the Cleveland Browns (the Browns owner, Art Modell asked the NFL Commissioner, Pete Rozelle if he could join to play the Cincinnati Bengals in the Battle of Ohio). Upon hearing this, Art Rooney (Steelers Owner) asked Rozelle if he could join to keep the Steelers-Browns rivalry alive. So, the Steelers would begin playing in the AFC and would leave the Eagles rivalry and many others they had playing the NFC teams. Also, the Steelers moved into the then state-of-the-art, Three Rivers Stadium and left Pitt Stadium. The new Three Rivers was one of the many "cookie-cutter" stadiums across the league and became an icon to Pittsburgh.

The opening of Three Rivers ended their relatively brief stay at Pitt Stadium, where they had only been playing on a full-time basis for six years. Before that, the Steelers played most of their home games at Forbes Field, with occasional games being played at Pitt Stadium to take advantage of the larger capacity. The Steelers later returned the favor to the University of Pittsburgh in 2000 when the Pitt Panthers football team moved into Three Rivers for one season as an interim home before Heinz Field was ready in 2001. Pitt would also play their Backyard Brawl games against West Virginia in years Pitt hosted the game during the existence of Three Rivers.

WTAE-TV sportscaster Myron Cope joined the Steelers radio network as color commentator for the 1970 season. Cope remained a fixture of the Steelers radio network through the 2004 season and became beloved by fans due to his enthusiasm and catchphrases behind the announcing booth. In 1975, Cope invented the Terrible Towel, originally conceived as a gimmick in the Steelers playoff game against Baltimore and now a staple among Steelers fans.




Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result
1 September 20, 1970 Houston Oilers L 19-7
2 September 27, 1970 at Denver Broncos L 16-13
3 October 3, 1970 at Cleveland Browns L 15-7
4 October 11, 1970 Buffalo Bills W 23-10
5 October 18, 1970 at Houston Oilers W 7-3
6 October 25, 1970 at Oakland Raiders L 31-14
7 November 2, 1970 Cincinnati Bengals W 21-10
8 November 8, 1970 New York Jets W 21-17
9 November 15, 1970 Kansas City Chiefs L 31-14
10 November 22, 1970 at Cincinnati Bengals L 34-7
11 November 29, 1970 Cleveland Browns W 28-9
12 December 6, 1970 Green Bay Packers L 20-12
13 December 13, 1970 at Atlanta Falcons L 27-16
14 December 20, 1970 at Philadelphia Eagles L 30-20

Game summaries

Week 1

1 234Total
• Oilers 7 723 19
Steelers 0 007 7

Scoring Drives:

The Steelers played their first regular season game at the brand new Three Rivers Stadium. Terry Bradshaw made his NFL debut, but struggled, going 4 for 16 for 40 yds. Bradshaw was also sacked for a safety, the first of three straight games in which this would happen. With the loss, the Steelers dropped to 0-1.

Week 2

1 234Total
Steelers 0 1030 13
• Broncos 7 090 16

Scoring Drives:

With the loss, the Steelers fell to 0-2.

Week 3

1 234Total
Steelers 0 700 7
• Browns 2 0130 15

Scoring Drives:

With the loss, the Steelers fell to 0-3.

Week 4

1 234Total
Bills 3 070 10
• Steelers 3 7310 23

Scoring Drives:

The Steelers won their first game, improving to 1-3.

Week 5

1 234Total
• Steelers 0 700 7
Oilers 3 000 3
  • Date: October 18
  • Location: Houston Astrodome
  • Game attendance: 42,799
  • Referee: Bob Finley

Scoring Drives:

With the win, the Steelers improved to 2-3 and split the regular season series with the Oilers.

Week 6

1 234Total
Steelers 0 770 14
• Raiders 7 1770 31

Scoring Drives:

In the first in what would become many regular and postseason games between these 2 teams, the Steelers would lose the very first game to the Raiders as the team dropped to 2-4.

Week 7

1 234Total
Bengals 0 730 10
• Steelers 0 7014 21

Scoring Drives:

The Steelers won the very first game between them and the Bengals and the teams' record improved to 3-4.

Week 8

1 234Total
Jets 3 077 17
• Steelers 7 770 21

Scoring Drives:

With the win, the Steelers improved to 4-4.

Week 9

1 234Total
• Chiefs 3 7714 31
Steelers 0 077 14

Scoring Drives:

With the loss, the Steelers fell to 4-5.

Week 10

1 234Total
Steelers 0 070 7
• Bengals 6 7714 34

Scoring Drives:

In their first ever game in Cincinnati, the Steelers would lose it by 27 points as the team dropped to 4-6.

Week 11

1 234Total
Browns 3 330 9
• Steelers 7 777 28

Scoring Drives:

With the win, the Steelers improved to 5-6 and finished 3-3 in their division.

Week 12

1 234Total
• Packers 6 077 20
Steelers 3 063 12

Scoring Drives:

Week 13

1 234Total
Steelers 6 1000 16
• Falcons 7 3107 27

Scoring Drives:

Week 14 (Sunday December 20, 1970): Philadelphia Eagles

1 234Total
Steelers 7 733 20
• Eagles 6 14010 30
  • Date: December 20
  • Location: Franklin Field
  • Game attendance: 55,252
  • Referee: Bob Finley

Scoring Drives:


AFC Central
Cincinnati Bengals 8 6 0 .571 3-3 7-4 312 255 W7
Cleveland Browns 7 7 0 .500 4-2 7-4 286 265 W1
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 9 0 .357 3-3 5-6 210 272 L3
Houston Oilers 3 10 1 .231 2-4 3-7-1 217 352 L3

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.


  1. ^ "How the Steelers Traded Roy Jefferson" http://www.footballperspective.com/how-the-steelers-traded-roy-jefferson-and-won-four-super-bowls/
  2. ^ "Catching Up With Former Colt Roy Jefferson, Baltimore Sun, November 7, 2013
  3. ^ Ron Shanklin Career Statistics https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/S/ShanRo00.htm
  4. ^ "The Legend of Ron Shanklin" http://stillcurtain.com/2015/04/29/steelers-draft-legend-ronnie-shanklin/
  5. ^ 1970 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  6. ^ 1970 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  7. ^ 1971 Pittsburgh Steelers Preseason Prospectus.
  8. ^ "1970 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved .

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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