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The Steelers 1976 season begins here>>>

1976 Exhibition game 3: The Pittsburgh Steelers at the Philadelphia Eagles

Monday Night Football in Philadelphia was played in torrential rain that began in the afternoon and continued throughout the game filling field with puddles. The conditions were always going to prove difficult for both teams to play any effective football.

After Andy Russell recovered an Eagles’ fumble in the first quarter, Rocky Bleier sparked a scoring drive of 61 yards with his 25-yard run around left end. Extending the drive on a fourth and two on the Eagles’ 15 with a three-yard run from Franco Harris, Bleier scored with a goal line plunge from the one-yard to put the Steelers ahead.

In the wet conditions, fumbles were prevalent and Frenchy Fuqua’s giveaway in the second period on the Steelers 27 set the Eagles up to tie the game.

Terry Hanratty took over for the Steelers in the second half and the idea of putting rookie Mike Kruczek in for the final quarter didn’t materialise because of the conditions while Bradshaw’s punting was also put on hold. 

Late in the third quarter, the Steelers started the drive that produced the winning touchdown. Jack Deloplaine splashed his way to seal the game with a 20-yard touchdown run. Deloplaine finished with 83 yards on 14 carries.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 14 at the Philadelphia Eagles 7
August 9th Veterans Stadium; 16,823

“It’s just not ideal,” admitted Bradshaw. “Sure you gotta face the elements during the season, but it’s hard for us now because we have so many other things to worry about. Now you have to say to yourself, ‘Don’t fumble, don’t slip.’ You’re just not yourself out there.”

“I think the winner was Belle,” observed coach Noll, a reference to Hurricane Belle that had dumped the monsoon on Veterans Stadium. “The conditions were less than favourable to evaluate our people. We didn’t even have a chance to work our rainy-day offense. You usually don’t have that much rain.”

HANRATTY IN OR OUT?

Terry Hanratty media photoTerry Hanratty got more playing time in the Eagles game than he had in the previous three years. Hanratty and coach Noll are both in their eighth year with the Steelers, but Hanratty has never been the apple of his coaches’ eye.

After being placed on waivers before the Eagles game, the rumours about the player leaving Pittsburgh to play for another team went the rounds again. Hanratty said, “It’s tough to understand anything around here. You can’t fault anybody, you can’t fault their direction. They’ve won two Super Bowls.”

Hanratty’s agent took a realistic stance on his client’s playing time. “The way they played him so much Monday night, I’ve got to believe the deal, whatever it was, has fallen through. I don’t think they would have taken a chance on him getting hurt if they had the deal set.”

The official reason given by the team for his extended playing time was that Mike Kruczek was scheduled to take over in the fourth quarter, but he wasn’t sufficiently familiar with the offense to run it in a hurricane.


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Last updated April 18th 2015.

The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

Keeping the Faith with Chuck Noll added September 2014.
Chuck Noll tribute added June 2014.
Byron White's 1938 season with the Pirates added July 2014
The Thirties Pirates updated April 2014.
SteelerNationUK on tour 2013 added February 2014.
The story of Steeler Nation's visit to London added October 2013.

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