Let's Learn From the Past: Super Bowl IX

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The Pittsburgh Steelers emphatically proved that defense wins championships with their first Super Bowl victory on Jan. 12, 1975, in New Orleans.

Super Bowl IX pitted two of the NFL's most legendary (and best nicknamed) defenses in a hard-fought defensive struggle. In the first half, Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" defense held the Minnesota offense to zero yards rushing, while the Vikings' "Purple People Eaters" defense limited the Steelers high-powered offensive attack to just 15 passing yards and four first downs.

The first half's only points came midway through the second quarter when Steelers defensive end Dwight White, who was playing the game with a 103-degree fever, downed Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the end zone for a safety -- the first safety in Super Bowl history.

A low-scoring game was expected, but the Steelers' 2-0 lead remains the lowest halftime score in Super Bowl history. The defensive trend continued in the second half, as the Steelers forced and recovered a Viking fumble on the opening kickoff. Three plays later, second-year running back Franco Harris scored on a 9-yard touchdown for the only points of the third quarter.

The Vikings got on the board in the fourth quarter with a blocked punt in the Steelers end zone -- but missed the extra point -- cutting the lead to 9-6. The Steelers then put the game out of reach with an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ran nearly seven minutes off the game clock. Terry Bradshaw's touchdown pass to tight end Larry Brown put the finishing touches on a 16-6 victory, the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

Two years removed from his famous "Immaculate Reception," Harris rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown to earn the game's Most Valuable Player award -- the first African-American to merit the honor. After the game, the team presented the game ball to longtime owner Art Rooney in the locker room in one of the most iconic moments in Steelers' history, symbolizing the unwavering commitment made by the Rooney family to build a winning franchise.

Visitors to the Heinz History Center can get up and get active before Sunday's championship game at the NFL Play 60 Training Camp, sponsored by Dick's Sporting Goods, Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Parents and children of all ages will enjoy five floors of fun football-related activities, including mini-NFL Combine drills, an appearance by former Steelers offensive lineman and current radio personality Craig Wolfley, a touchdown dance contest and more. For more information, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org.


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