Super Bowl X Memories: Harris’ Fourth-Down Collision Preserves Dallas Lead
Memories of big hits in Super Bowl X invariably revolve around the Steel Curtain and their hard-nosed front-seven. Any mentions of Cliff Harris usually have the Dallas safety on the receiving end of a body-slam from Pittsburgh linebacker Jack Lambert. But a closer look at this heavyweight battle at the Orange Bowl reveals a significant moment when a big hit from “Captain Crash” snuffed out a Pittsburgh drive in the second quarter, keeping the Cowboys in control for the time being.
Just moments after the Cowboys had claimed a 10-7 lead with a 36-yard Toni Fritsch field goal, the heavily-favored Steelers were back on the march, having crossed midfield on the strength of strong running from Franco Harris and a nifty scamper from quarterback Terry Bradshaw. But when Dallas defensive end Harvey Martin dropped Harris for a short-gain on a third-and-2 play from the Cowboys 37-yard line, it appeared that the Steelers had been stopped. But head coach Chuck Noll waved his offense back on the field, setting up a sideline collision between Harris & Harris to end the drive.
Cliff was already boiling from a ruling earlier in the drive that awarded John Stallworth with a reception, despite Harris having knocked the ball loose on the way to the ground. Cliff wanted an incompletion. Instead, the officials gave the Pittsburgh wide receiver a 12-yard gain. Now, on fourth-and-1, Cliff realized his opportunity to set aright what he believed had been a grave injustice by the referee.
A play-fake from Bradshaw to Rocky Bleier from the left side allowed Franco to slip past Dallas’ other safety, Charlie Waters, and turn up-field along the right sideline. Bradshaw’s pass, which had been begun its flight to a wide-open target, arrived with the coverage window closing fast. The ball hit Franco in the hands. Just an instant later came Cliff, flying in from his outfield position and barreling into Franco at the 23-yard line, jarring the ball loose. While Franco spent a few moments on the ground to contemplate what might have been, Cliff and his Cowboy teammates celebrated the can’t miss collision which preserved the Dallas lead.