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Hell with the Lid Off

Inside the Fierce Rivalry between the 1970s Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers

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Hell with the Lid Off looks at the ferocious five-year war waged by Pittsburgh and Oakland for NFL supremacy during the turbulent seventies. The roots of their rivalry dated back to the 1972 playoff game in Pittsburgh that ended with the “Immaculate Reception,” Franco Harris’s stunning touchdown that led the Steelers to a win over the Raiders in their first postseason meeting. That famous game ignited a fiery rivalry for NFL supremacy. Between 1972 and 1977, the Steelers and the Raiders—between them boasting an incredible twenty-six Pro Football Hall of Famers—collided in the playoffs five straight seasons and in the AFC title game three consecutive years. 

Both teams favored force over finesse and had players whose forte was intimidation. Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense featured Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Mel Blount, the latter’s heavy hits forcing an NFL rule in his name. The Raiders countered with “The Assassin,” Jack Tatum, Skip Thomas (aka “Dr. Death”), George Atkinson, and Willie Brown in their memorable secondary. Each of their championships crowned the eventual Super Bowl winner, and their bloodcurdling encounters became so violent and vicious that they transcended the NFL and had to be settled in a U.S. district court. 

With its account of classic games, legendary owners, coaches, and players with larger-than-life personalities, Hell with the Lid Off is a story of turbulent football and one of the game’s best-known rivalries.

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