In the stormiest game of the season, the Steelers plowed over the Bengals 7-3 to keep alive a winning streak that eventually stretched to nine straight.
In all but one respect, it was a typical season for the Raiders. As in nine of the past 10 years, Oakland won its division, relying mainly on Ken Stabler's passes to Fred Biletnikoff, Clifford Branch and Dave Casper. The big change for the Raiders came in the playoffs, where they had flopped nine times. After beating the Patriots 24-21, Coach John Madden found his next foes stressing pass defense. So the Raiders ran—past the Steelers 24-7 for the AFC title and the Vikings 32-14 in the Super Bowl.
Nothing gladdened Madden more than the Super Bowl win.
Clarence Davis had most frequently run like Avis, but his 191 yards in two games hit Pittsburgh and Minnesota where it hurts.
The Raider defense put the collar on Fran Tarkenton.
Stabler's 66.7 completion percentage was best since 1945.
Despite Raider running, Biletnikoff had 13 playoff catches. Three of them set up Super Bowl TDs, making him the game's MVP.
With runs reminiscent of Gale Sayers', Walter turned Chicago into Payton Place by finishing second to O.J. Simpson in rushing.
O.J. became resigned to Buffalo, but Coach Lou Saban quit.
The ribbing that the Colts gave Franco Harris was no joke.
With youthful stars like Defensive Rookie of the Year Mike Haynes, the unflagging Patriots made their first playoffs since 1963.
Quarterback Bert Jones took the measure of Colt opponents, leading his team to a 11-3 record and becoming the league's MVP.
Despite being between the uprights, it wasn't a three-point landing this plane made after the Colts-Steelers playoff game.
Led by Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett, the unbeaten Panthers of Pittsburgh completed Coach Johnny Majors' four-year rebuilding plan by becoming the first Eastern squad since Syracuse in 1959 to win the national title. Dorsett set 15 NCAA records, including most yards rushing in a career (6,082) and in a season (1,948). Pitt clinched the championship—and squelched critics who said its schedule was too soft to merit No. 1 ranking—by crushing Georgia, then No. 5, 27-3 in the Sugar Bowl.
Johnny quit Pitt to try a Majors revamping at Tennessee.
Led by the likes of Tackle Don Parrish, Pitt's defense rose up to intercept four Georgia passes and bat away several more.
Dorsett had a non-stop year, opening with 181 yards against Notre Dame and ending with a Sugar Bowl record of 202.
With star runner Ricky Bell often injured, Quarterback Vince Evans pitched in to lead Southern Cal to the No. 2 ranking.
Georgia's scrawny but scrappy defense, the Junkyard Dogs, showed its mettle by shutting out four of the team's 10 victims.
With Rob Lytle running roughshod, Michigan was high up in the rankings until two late losses left Coach Bo Schembechler low-down.
Even the old high thigh by Mike Williams didn't get New Mexico past upstart Wyoming, which waxed the WAC with a 6-1 record.
The College All-star game took a double dousing. It was called in the third period because of heavy rain, then canceled for good because of waning interest.
WALTER IOOSS JR.
PETER READ MILLER