Played on January 21, 1979, in Miami, Super Bowl XIII would mark the third time the Cowboys had been to the championship in four years and their fifth trip in nine years. It was the Steelers' third trip in five years. Pittsburgh would return for a fourth time the following year.
Imagine that: In a single decade, the NFC had been represented five times by the same team and the AFC had sent the same team to the contest four times. Yet, only one of those dynasties would emerge as the team of the '70s. That team would be determined in the fairest way possible: two head-to-head meetings.
Had the Cowboys won just one of those games against the Steelers, they would have had bragging rights for the 1970s by virtue of their remarkable five trips to the Super Bowl. Alas, it was not to be. Though the games against the Steelers were among the most exciting Super Bowls ever played, the Cowboys came up short both times.
Super Bowl XIII was the one where Dallas linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson famously said that Terry Bradshaw could not spell "cat" if you spotted him the "c" and the "a". Bradshaw responded by throwing for 318 yards and four touchdowns, both Super Bowl records at the time. The Pittsburgh QB was named the game's MVP despite throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble on the day.
Bradshaw's heroics may have won the game, but his miscues very nearly cost his team the game. He might have as easily been the goat as the hero had it not been for one of the Super Bowl's all-time notable goats, Jackie Smith.
The Cowboys had lured Smith, a Hall of Fame-bound tight end, formerly of the Cardinals, out of retirement when the injury bug hit them. It was the third quarter and Smith was wide open in the middle of the end zone. Quarterback Roger Staubach hit him in the chest with a pass. Smith dropped it. The Cowboys settled for a field goal.
The rest is history...and still a raw memory for so many Cowboys' fans.
The Steelers won the game, 35–31.
(See the Jackie Smith drop on video here.)