1983 Pittsburgh Steelers Season
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1983 Pittsburgh Steelers Season
1983 Pittsburgh Steelers season
OwnerArt Rooney
Head coachChuck Noll
General managerDick Haley
Home fieldThree Rivers Stadium
Division place1st AFC Central
Playoff finishLost Divisional Playoffs (Raiders) 38-10
Pro BowlersPK Gary Anderson
LB Jack Lambert
C Mike Webster
AP All-ProsJack Lambert (1st team)
Mike Webster (1st team)
Gary Anderson (2nd team)
Team MVPGary Anderson

The 1983 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the franchise's 51st season in the National Football League. They were good enough to win ten games and claim the AFC Central Division title over the 9-7 Cleveland Browns. The clincher came in the penultimate game of the regular season, against the New York Jets in what was the final NFL game to be played at Shea Stadium. But to Steelers fans, this was a game that always will be remembered as Terry Bradshaw's final appearance at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.


By the start of the 1983 season, the Steelers had endured many retirements, they had been forced to adapt to many changes. The Steel Curtain was no more, both from the standpoint of personnel, what with Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White Ernie Holmes and Jack Ham all retired, but also from the fact the scheme had been switched from a 4-3 to the 3-4, which the Steelers still use as their base defense in 2020.

However, nothing was as dramatic as what they were about to live through for the first time since coach Chuck Noll's first season of 1969: life without Terry Bradshaw.

In another season, Jack Lambert's career would be ended by a dislocated big toe, but at this point in franchise history the most important appendage to them was Bradshaw's right arm. More specifically, his right elbow.

Sometime in the months after the 1983 NFL season, a doctor would perform surgery on that very valuable elbow, but in September 1983, the medical plan agreed to by the Steelers and Bradshaw called for rest and treatment. Several times over the season, the false hope for Bradshaw's return to the starting lineup crystallized and then evaporated. Deadlines passed. More deadlines were set. They passed as well. And on and on it went.

The sporting press in Pittsburgh dutifully would attend each practice session from the start of the 1983 season and report the one thing everyone wanted to know, and it usually read like this:

Bradshaw didn't throw today.

Noll never was one who spent any time worrying - or even talking - about injured players, and so when the Steelers opened their regular season at Three Rivers Stadium against the Denver Broncos and rookie sensation John Elway, it was Cliff Stoudt starting at quarterback and fourth-year pro Mark Malone as the No. 2.

The 1983 Steelers had some talent, but they also had their flaws, and when they turned the ball over and/or were highly penalized they were unable to make the kinds of plays necessary to overcome those things. When they did that - five interceptions vs. Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, three fumbles and two interceptions vs. Cincinnati, two interceptions combined with 11 penalties in Cleveland - they lost decisively.

That it would be Bradshaw's last NFL game wasn't known at the time, but what was known was the Steelers needed a hero because they needed a win. They were a team that started 9-2 but found itself mired in a three-game losing streak that had it reeling at 9-5 and facing back-to-back road trips - at New York and then at Cleveland.






Week Date Opponent Game Site Kickoff (ET) TV Result Record
1 Saturday, July 30 vs. New Orleans Saints Fawcett Stadium (Canton, Ohio) 2:00 p.m. ABC W 27-14 1-0
2 Saturday, August 6 vs. New England Patriots Neyland Stadium (Knoxville, Tennessee) 7:30 p.m. WPXI W 27-16 2-0
3 Friday, August 12 New York Giants Three Rivers Stadium 8:00 p.m. ABC L 22-13 2-1
4 Saturday, August 20 at Dallas Cowboys Texas Stadium 9:00 p.m. NBC W 24-7 3-1
5 Thursday, August 25 at Philadelphia Eagles Veterans Stadium 7:30 p.m. WPXI W 10-3 4-1

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Game Site Kickoff (ET) TV Result Record
1 Sunday, September 4 Denver Broncos Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. NBC L 14-10 0-1
2 Sunday, September 11 at Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field 1:00 p.m. NBC W 25-21 1-1
3 Sunday, September 18 at Houston Oilers Astrodome 1:00 p.m. NBC W 40-28 2-1
4 Sunday, September 25 New England Patriots Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. NBC L 28-23 2-2
5 Sunday, October 2 Houston Oilers Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. NBC W 17-10 3-2
6 Monday, October 10 at Cincinnati Bengals Riverfront Stadium 9:00 p.m. ABC W 24-14 4-2
7 Sunday, October 16 Cleveland Browns Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. NBC W 44-17 5-2
8 Sunday, October 23 at Seattle Seahawks Kingdome 4:00 p.m. NBC W 27-21 6-2
9 Sunday, October 30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. CBS W 17-12 7-2
10 Sunday, November 6 San Diego Chargers Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. NBC W 26-3 8-2
11 Sunday, November 13 at Baltimore Colts Memorial Stadium 2:00 p.m. NBC W 24-13 9-2
12 Sunday, November 20 Minnesota Vikings Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. CBS L 17-14 9-3
13 Thursday, November 24 at Detroit Lions Pontiac Silverdome 12:30 p.m. NBC L 45-3 9-4
14 Sunday, December 4 Cincinnati Bengals Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 p.m. NBC L 23-10 9-5
15 Saturday, December 10 at New York Jets Shea Stadium 12:30 p.m. NBC W 34-7 10-5
16 Sunday, December 18 at Cleveland Browns Cleveland Municipal Stadium 1:00 p.m. NBC L 30-17 10-6

Week 1: vs. Denver Broncos

Week 2: at Green Bay Packers

Week 3: at Houston Oilers

Week 4: vs. New England Patriots

Week 5: vs. Houston Oilers

Week 6: at Cincinnati Bengals

Week 7: vs. Cleveland Browns

Week 8: at Seattle Seahawks

Week 9: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 10: vs. San Diego Chargers

Week 11: at Baltimore Colts

The Colts' first sellout since 1977, and last in Baltimore, came about because thousands of Steelers fans who normally could not purchase tickets at Three Rivers Stadium found them cheap and plentiful in Maryland. Pittsburgh returned to Memorial Stadium with the birth of the Baltimore Ravens in 1996.

Week 12: vs. Minnesota Vikings

Week 13: at Detroit Lions

Pittsburgh's first trip to the Motor City since 1967 was nothing short of disastrous. It was the Steelers' most lopsided loss under Noll, eclipsed only by a 51-0 embarrassment by the Browns at home in the 1989 opener.

Week 14: vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Week 15: at New York Jets

After having been sidelined with an elbow injury for the first 14 games of the season, 36-year old Terry Bradshaw started his first game of the season. Despite still clearly being hampered by his elbow, he was able to impress in limited time. Bradshaw played two complete series and directed touchdown drives of 77 yards in eight plays, and 72 yards in nine plays. He completed 5-of-8 for 77 yards and two touchdowns, 17 yards to Gregg Garrity and 10 yards to Calvin Sweeney, enough to inspire the Steelers to a 34-7 win that clinched the division championship and a second straight appearance in the playoffs.

It would the final time Bradshaw would see the field as a player, as he felt a pop in his elbow while throwing his final pass, a 10-yard touchdown to Sweeney. Bradshaw did not play during the play-offs and retired after the season.[19]

Week 16: at Cleveland Browns

Eight days after Bradshaw threw his last pass, Brian Sipe started his last NFL game in what turned out to be a hollow victory for the Browns, who were eliminated from the playoffs three hours later when the Seahawks defeated the Patriots in Seattle.


AFC Central
Pittsburgh Steelers(3) 10 6 0 .625 4-2 8-4 355 303 L1
Cleveland Browns 9 7 0 .563 3-3 7-5 356 342 W1
Cincinnati Bengals 7 9 0 .438 4-2 4-8 346 302 L1
Houston Oilers 2 14 0 .125 1-5 1-11 288 460 L1


AFC Divisional Playoff: at Los Angeles Raiders

Against a first-round opponent as formidable as the 1983 Raiders - who would go on to win the Super Bowl in a rout of the Washington Redskins - the Steelers would find themselves woefully short on weapons. Bradshaw's situation had drawn the most attention, but the 1983 Steelers also were without John Stallworth for the bulk of the season. Franco Harris averaged just 3.6 yards a carry, and after Calvin Sweeney, who led the team with 39 catches, no other wide receiver had even as many as 20.

If anything, the Steelers went to the West Coast for a playoff game against the Raiders on the strength of their defense, a unit that rolled up 50 sacks and 45 takeaways. Cliff Stoudt would finish with 12 touchdown passes as the starting quarterback in 15 games; the Steelers' defense scored seven touchdowns itself.

Any hope the Steelers had to upset the 12-4 Raiders rested with its defense, but looming over everything was the specter of the turnovers.

The game was played on Sunday, January 1, and it wasn't much of one for long, and the fact it wasn't can be traced to two poor decisions by the Steelers, the first by their coach and the second by their quarterback.

Taking the opening kickoff, the Steelers marched 78 yards in eight plays, but Chuck Noll took the oomph factor out of the whole thing by opting for a field goal on fourth-and-inches from the Raiders goal line. The Steelers defense then forced a Raiders punt, and after Ray Guy pinned the Steelers offense deep in its territory, Stoudt was next in line to make a poor decision.

His out-pattern to Calvin Sweeney on first down was intercepted by Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes and returned 18 yards for a touchdown, and the impact on the respective teams was far more than the seven points it added to the scoreboard.

Hayes' interception simultaneously inflated the Raiders and deflated the Steelers. The Raiders scored 10 more points before the end of the half, and then 17 more in their first three possessions of the second half.

When the 38-10 debacle was over, the Raiders were on their way to the third Super Bowl championship in their history, while the Steelers were about to embark on life without Terry Bradshaw. This time, permanently.[1]


  1. ^ 1983 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  2. ^ 1983 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  3. ^ 1984 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  4. ^ "1983 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Pro Football Reference Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers - September 4th, 1983
  6. ^ Pro Football Reference Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers - September 11th, 1983
  7. ^ Pro Football Reference Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Oilers - September 18th, 1983
  8. ^ Pro Football Reference New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers - September 25th, 1983
  9. ^ Pro Football Reference Houston Oilers at Pittsburgh Steelers - October 2nd, 1983
  10. ^ Pro Football Reference Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals - October 10th, 1983
  11. ^ Pro Football Reference Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers - October 16th, 1983
  12. ^ Pro Football Reference Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks - October 23rd, 1983
  13. ^ Pro Football Reference Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers - October 30th, 1983
  14. ^ Pro Football Reference San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers - November 6th, 1983
  15. ^ Pro Football Reference Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Colts - November 13th, 1983
  16. ^ Pro Football Reference Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers - November 20th, 1983
  17. ^ Pro Football Reference Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions - November 24th, 1983
  18. ^ Pro Football Reference Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers - December 4th, 1983
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Pro Football Reference Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns - December 18th, 1983
  21. ^ Pro Football Reference Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Raiders - January 1st, 1984

  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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