Super Bowl Time Capsule: Bill Cowher’s onside kick call

As NFL fans across the globe prepare for Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, Steel City Underground opened up the Super Bowl time capsule to find a memorable moment in Super Bowl history for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Most Pittsburgh Steelers fans remember Super Bowl XXX. The game is considered one of the greatest Super Bowls in NFL history.

Held at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, the game pitted head coach Bill Cowher of the Steelers against first-year NFL coach Barry Switzer of the Cowboys. Switzer had not coached any football team since his exit from the University of Oklahoma after the 1988 season.

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Cowher and Switzer played the mental game as the men in uniform, on the field, played the physical game; it was that, very physical. Unfortunately, the Steelers lost to the Cowboys, 17-27.

“Up-front physical… If there’s one silver lining in this dadgummed dark cloud, you can say that we came to play, and we played Steelers football.” – Kevin Greene

Both teams battled back and forth. The Steelers, 13.5-point underdogs, got things moving on offense to set up a Norm Johnson field goal, but it may be the successful onside kick that set up a Steelers touchdown that could have given Pittsburgh a real chance at a Super Bowl win that might be best remembered.

The kick was a gamble that worked. Deon Figures was able to scoop up the bouncing football for the Steelers. Quarterback Neil O’Donnell then went to work moving the offense, but it was Bam Morris, running behind the block of John L. Williams, that got Pittsburgh to within three points of a tie with Dallas.

In an interview with NFL analysts Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe, Cowher admitted that he’d talked to Phil Simms about possibly opening the game with an onside kick but was dissuaded.

“I feel if I do it then, I really don’t get a possession… I knew we were going to (use an onside kick) at some point… and it just, it was the right time in the first quarter, we’d just scored and it kind of got us back into the game.” – Bill Cowher

Unfortunately, on the next Steelers offensive drive, O’Donnell threw his second of two interceptions on the day to cornerback Larry Brown (the Super Bowl MVP) that set up a short touchdown run that sealed the win for the Cowboys.

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