The defending champion Dallas Cowboys march back to Super Bowl XIII was very similar to that of the previous season though they bettered their 1977 numbers by leading the NFC in fewest points allowed (208) and once again led the NFL in points (384). However, with the two-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers standing in the way, the results in this NFL title game were drastically different than in Super Bowl XII. Both teams were vying to become the first three-time Super Bowl victors with Pittsburgh finishing the regular seasons with a league best 14-2 record and Dallas posted a 12-4. (For the 1978 season, the NFL extended the regular season by increasing games from 14 to 16.) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach once again had a stellar year throwing for more than 3,100 yards and 25 touchdowns while backfield mates Tony Dorsett and Robert Newhouse each scored ten TDs. Tight end Billy Joe Dupree was also a favorite target for Staubach as the connected nine times for six points. The "Doomsday Defense" was once again suffocated the competition as the ‘Boys went 10-4 and then beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-20 in the divisional playoff and then shut out the Los Angeles Rams 28-0 in the NFC Conference Championship Game. (Atlanta topped the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC's first ever "Wild Card Playoff" game which was introduced in 1978.) The Steel Curtain defense on the other side of the field also smothered opponents as Mean Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert ran around or over offensive lines. Pittsburgh's offense was run by NFL Most Valuable Player Terry Bradshaw, who enjoyed a career year in 1978, as he led the NFL in touchdown passes (28) and posted career numbers for completion (56.3) and TD (7.6) percentages. Running back Franco Harris rushed for more than 1,000 for the fifth straight year, and the Steelers offense was stacked with talent like running back Rocky Bleier and future Hall of Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Pittsburgh lost only two games during the regular season to the Houston Oilers and Los Angeles Rams, but they clobbered the Denver Broncos 33-10 in the divisional playoff and then redeemed themselves by pummeling the Oilers in the AFC Conference Championship game 34-5.
Dallas and Pittsburgh faced off on January 21, 1979 in the Orange Bowl held in Miami, Florida, the fifth and final time the Super Bowl was held at the historic stadium. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, who enjoyed all of the spoils of the Denver Broncos' sloppy play in Super Bowl XII, suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Steelers who seemed to capitalize on every Dallas mistake. Bradshaw came right out firing as he hit Stallworth with a 28-yard touchdown pass on the Steelers first possession. Dallas answered when Roger Staubach threw a 39-yard TD strike to Tony Hill to even the score. In the second quarter, Pittsburgh scored twice more on Bradshaw TD passes to Stallworth once again and running back Rocky Bleier. Dallas had a TD of their own as the two teams headed to halftime with the Steelers leading 21-14. In the third, the Steel Curtain and Doomsday defenses held scoring to only one field goal from the foot of Steelers kicker Raphael Septien. Pittsburgh's Franco Harris started off the fourth quarter scoring with a 22-yard rushing touchdown and then Bradshaw threw his record-breaking fourth touchdown pass to wide receiver Lynn Swann to increase the score to 35-17. Unwilling to retreat, the Dallas offense continued to attack and Roger Staubach's scrambling ability was on full display in the fourth quarter. He threw a 7-yard TD pass to tight end Billy Joe Dupree and then a 4-yard touchdown pass to Butch Johnson to cut their deficit to 35-31. Sadly for Cowboys players and fans, the comeback fell short as the game ended with Pittsburgh topping Dallas 35-31. Terry Bradshaw passed for a career-high Super Bowl record 318 yards and four touchdowns, also a Super Bowl record. He was an easy choice for the Super Bowl XIII MVP, adding yet another trophy to go along with his AP MVP and Bert Bell (Player of the Year) Awards. Pittsburgh was the first ever three-time Super Bowl champion.