As expected, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles won their respective conference championships and advanced to Super Bowl XIV, to be played Jan. 20 in Pasadena, Calif.
Utilizing a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense, the Steelers qualified for their fourth Super Bowl trip with a 27-13 victory over Houston in the AFC title game. Los Angeles was just as tough defensively, allowing Tampa Bay only seven first downs and 177 yards total offense in the Rams' 9- 0 NFC triumph over their young opponents.
Pittsburgh fell behind early when Vernon Perry, the hero in houston's upset of San Diego, picked off an errant Steeler pass and raced 75 yards for the game's opening score. The touchdown was the only one the Oilers registered all day. Houston thought it had another TD in the third quarter, when Dan Pastorini tossed to Mike Renfro in the corner of the end zone, but the play was ruled an incompletion on a controversial decision. (After reviewing game films, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said Renfro appeared to juggling the ball on the apparent touchdown.)
Unruffled by Perry's theft, Terry Bradshaw became the leading TD passer in playoff history with a pair of second-quarter scoring strikes, the first a 16- yarder to Bennie Cunningham followed by a 20- yarder to John Stallworth. Rocky Bleier, who completed the scoring with a clinching four-yard run late in the game, joined with Franco Harris in giving Pittsburgh a huge 161-to-24 yard rushing advantage. The Steelers limited Earl Campbell, the NFL's top runner to just 15 yards on 17 carries.
In posting its shutout of Tampa Bay, Los Angeles limited Buccaneer QB Doug Williams to 2-of-13 and 12 yards before he left the game with an injured elbow late in the third quarter. Frank Corral accounted for the game's only points with three field goals, 19-and 21-yarders in the second quarter followed by a 23 -yard boot midway through the final period.