This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress
This was the second of three-straight AFC Finals that the Raiders and Steelers played against each other. 1974-76, Steelers won the first two and the Raiders finally broke through after losing six straight AFC Finals from 68-75. Six in eight years and this game in 75 was one of the better games in this rivalry, which I believe was the best rivalry in the 1970s in the NFL. Especially conference rivalry and between teams from different divisions. Even better than the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry in the NFC. Because these teams were better and they were playing in the playoffs every year and played three conference finals against each other.
Rivalries are only good and even real if the teams are good. And great rivalries are only great if the teams are great. And that is what separates the Raiders-Steelers rivalry from I believe the rest that we’ve seen ever. Because in the 1970s both teams year after year only had one goal, which was to win the Super Bowl. And they knew if they were going to do that they were going to have to beat the other team. Probably in the AFC Final just to get to the Super Bowl. Two very tough well coached teams, that both had power running games. That both had vertical passing games and great quarterbacks.
Both teams were very similar that they won by beating their opponents up. Running the ball right at the defense and doing it over and over and having very tough defense that could stuff the run, attack the quarterback and pound the receivers in the secondary. But they did it differently which gave fans something else to se. The Raiders, with their 3-4 defense that would use their DL to occupy the offensive line and have their linebackers make the plays and blitz the quarterback. The Steelers, were a 4-3 two-gap defense that could attack the QB and stuff the run just with their great defensive line. And play their linebackers and DB’s deep. And these teams were great at what they did, similar in how they did, but different enough to make their games even more interesting.