So two former Raiders receivers – Tim Brown and Jerry Rice – are claiming their coach, Bill Callahan, changed the game plan just several days before Super Bowl XXXVII in an attempt to sabotage their chances against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Nobody made those claims when Chuck Noll changed the entire offense in the week leading up to the AFC Championship game in 1976.
Noll changed the offense, though, for a specific reason, even though he later admitted it was a mistake.
In a lopsided divisional playoff victory in Baltimore, the Steelers lost both of their 1,000-yard rushers – Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier – to injuries. They were unable to play against the Raiders.
So, during the week, Noll changed the offense from a two-back set to a one-back set featuring Reggie Harrison.
Now, the 1976 team might have been the best Steelers team of all-time, maybe greater than any of their four Super Bowl-winning teams. They were riding a 10-game winning streak, had a defense that allowed just 28 points in the final nine games (including five shutouts) and had destroyed the Colts, 40-14, in the first round of the playoffs.
But, with a whole new offensive scheme, they went to Oakland and were badly beaten by the Raiders, 24-7, ending their chance of winning three consecutive Super Bowls.
After the game, Noll said it was a mistake to think he could change the offense in a week and be successful.
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