Steelers’ Terry Bradshaw and Houston’s Craig Bradshaw: On This Day in NFL History


Rick Stewart/Getty Images Retired QB Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up his old number during halftme of an NFL game between the Steelers and Colts in 2002.

On September 7, 1980, the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the rival Houston Oilers at Three Rivers Stadium in the regular-season opener for both teams. It was on this day that Terry Bradshaw and his brother Craig made history by becoming the first brothers to be quarterbacks on opposing teams in an NFL game.

Terry: 4x Super Bowl Champion, Craig: Seventh-Round Draft Pick

The Pittsburgh Steelers were coming off their fourth Super Bowl title in six years, a 31-19 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV, with franchise QB Terry Bradshaw leading the way in all four victories.

Craig Bradshaw was trying to earn a place in the NFL, a seventh-round draft pick of the Oilers just months earlier, selected #182 overall out of Utah State. But with Craig Bradshaw serving as Houston’s third-string quarterback, that was enough to set a record.

As for the game itself, it started with plenty of drama. Pittsburgh’s kickoff returner Larry Anderson nearly returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and the Steelers opened up a 17-3 lead en route to a 31-17 victory. On Pittsburgh first play from scrimmage, Terry Bradshaw ran with the ball on a designed run and was flipped head over heels by a Houston defensive back, hardly what Steelers head coach Chuck Noll would have wanted to see on the team’s first offensive play of the season.

More notable, still, Oilers starting quarterback Ken Stabler had a truly dreadful day passing the ball, finishing 24 of 43 for just 196 yards while throwing five interceptions against zero touchdown passes. This as compared to Terry Bradshaw, who went 12 of 24 for 254 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Strangely, it was Oilers running back Earl Campbell who was Houston’s passing star on this day, as he threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to “widener” Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson, which equaled the punishing halfback’s 57 rushing yards on the day.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane during an era in which a “big” offensive lineman was 260 pounds—and Pro Football Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen (Los Angeles Rams) was the best color commentator on NFL broadcasts—watch the game in its entirety here:

1980 Steelers vs Oilers – 09/07/80Hundreds more classic Steelers games on our site: The World Champions come out guns blazing from the opening kick, scoring just 3 plays into the game and jumping out to a 17-0 lead courtesy of three 1st quarter Ken Stabler interceptions (2 by Mel Blount). Bradshaw is on fire early and Swann & Stallworth…2019-01-06T10:08:37Z

Craig Bradshaw’s NFL Career

Craig Bradshaw never really made it in the NFL, as 1980 was his only season in the league. He did, however, appear in two games, though he never attempted a pass.

As for Craig’s college career, he went to Louisiana Tech in 1977—the same school as Terry—but moved on to Utah State for the 1978 and 1979 seasons.

He had little in the way of passing success at either stop. He was 12 of 35 for 143 yards with one interception at Louisiana Tech. At Utah State he was 55 of 123 for 1,055 yards with nine touchdown passes against seven interceptions.

“The scouts say he can throw a football through the wall,” Oilers coach Bum Phillips told the Associated Press at the time.

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