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Tom Brady may have finished his career with three more rings than Terry Bradshaw, but as the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is fond of saying, he’s never had to spend a single day of his life explaining what it feels like to lose a Super Bowl.

Bradshaw and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana belong to an exclusive club. Both won four Super Bowls in their careers without a loss, the most wins with an unblemished record in Super Bowl history.

But Bradshaw holds the distinction of having reached 4-0 first. Bradshaw’s fourth Super Bowl win came two seasons before Montana’s first.

Here are all four of Bradshaw’s Super Bowl performances ranked:

4. Super Bowl 9: Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6

The Steelers won four Super Bowls in a span of six seasons, but the team that won the first pair in 1974-75 and the second back-to-back teams in 1978-89 could not have been more different.

The first set of Super Bowl winners was led by their incredible “Steel Curtain” defense and a punishing running attack, led by Franco Harris and supplemented by Rocky Bleier. The passing game, especially in Super Bowl 9 before Lynn Swann and John Stallworth began developing as dangerous receiving threats, was almost an afterthought, with Bradshaw in true game-manager mode.

Super Bowl 9 followed the script. The defense played arguably the greatest game in Super Bowl history, limiting the dynamic Chuck Foreman and the Vikings running game to 17 yards. On offense, Harris set a Super Bowl record with 158 yards rushing on 38 carries and scored a key touchdown in the third quarter to give the Steelers a 9-0 lead.

But ultimately, it was Bradshaw who passed Steelers down the field after the Vikings closed to within 9-6 and hit Larry Brown for the game-clinching touchdown with just under four minutes left. Bradshaw finished 9-for-14 for 96 yards and the Brown touchdown.

3. Super Bowl 14: Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19

The Steelers’ dynasty of the 1970s ended on a January night in 1980 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. It ended with a victory, the Steelers’ fourth Super Bowl title in six years, but it was clear the best days of the Hall of Fame core were behind them.

The upstart Rams, who went 9-7 before ending Roger Staubach’s career in a Divisional Round upset of the Dallas Cowboys, were led by backup quarterback Vince Ferragamo. Despite the mismatch on paper, the Rams threw a huge scare into the Steelers, leading 19-17 after three quarters.

Bradshaw through those first three quarters was not having a great game. He was intercepted three times and lost the services of Swann to a concussion in the third quarter. But in the fourth, he and Stallworth combined on two receptions that won the game.

The first came on a 3rd-and-8 from the Steelers’ 27-yard line. Eluding a blitz, Bradshaw hit Stallworth in stride deep down the middle, just past the outstretched arm of Rams defensive back Rod Perry for a 73-yard touchdown and a 24-19 lead.

Then after Ferragamo’s only interception of the game, Bradshaw converted a 3rd-and-7 with 4:16 left to Stallworth for 45 yards to the Rams’ 22 that set up Harris’ game-clinching touchdown run in a 31-19 victory.

Bradshaw completed 14-of-21 passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

2. Super Bowl 10: Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

The first of two epic Super Bowl showdowns with the Cowboys that came to define the NFL in the 1970s, the Steelers survived a trio of “Hail Mary” attempts from the Steelers’ 39-yard line by Staubach in the final seconds to hold on for a 21-17 victory.

This first of two Super Bowl meetings at the Orange Bowl in 1976 was also the live-action backdrop for the movie thriller, “Black Sunday,” about an attempted terrorist attack on the Super Bowl.

The game itself needed had a bit of Hollywood – Cowboys defensive end Thomas Henderson – and a breakout star in Swann, who made three highlight-reel catches, including the game-breaking touchdown late in the fourth quarter, as part of his Super Bowl MVP performance.

In the supporting role was Bradshaw, whom the Cowboys dared to beat them by shutting down Harris and the running game. And Bradshaw responded, completing 9-of-19 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. His passer rating of 122.5 was the best of his four Super Bowls.

But numbers do not tell the story. His 64-yard touchdown pass to Swan with 3:31 left that gave the Steelers a 21-10 lead came under extreme duress, with Bradshaw having to elude an all-out blitz, stepping up to shake a sack attempt by linebacker D.D. Lewis, then releasing the ball just as defensive end Larry Cole smashed into the side of Bradshaw’s helmet, leaving the quarterback concussed, but having made the play that ultimately won the game.

1. Super Bowl 13: Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

The wildest of the four Steelers’ Super Bowls in the 1970s that made Pittsburgh the first team to win three was also the finest performance for Bradshaw. His four touchdown passes set a Super Bowl record as the Steelers built a huge fourth-quarter lead, then held on to beat the late-charging Cowboys by four points.

The was a true statement game for Bradshaw, despite having previously won two Super Bowls, as this was the game played the same week Cowboys’ flamboyant linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson insulted Bradshaw, saying he couldn’t spell the word “cat” if you spotted him the “C” and the “A.”

Bradshaw got the last laugh, throwing three touchdown passes in the first half – two to Stallworth – to offset an interception and two fumbles, one of which was literally ripped out of his hands by linebacker Mike Hegman while being sacked and returned for a touchdown.

But it was his fourth touchdown pass of the game, an 18-yard leaping grab in the end zone by Swann with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter, that gave the Steelers a 35-17 lead. That touchdown proved critical, as Dallas responded with two touchdowns in the final three minutes to make it close.

Bradshaw finished the game 17-for-30 for 318 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He earned the first of his two Super Bowl MVP awards.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference


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