The 1974 AFC Championship Game was the fifth title game[lower-alpha 1] of the American Football Conference. Played on December 29, 1974, the game was hosted by the AFC West champion Oakland Raiders who played the AFC Central champion Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. Along with the 1974 NFC Championship Game played on the same day, this game constituted the penultimate round of the 1974-75 NFL playoffs which had followed the 1974 regular season of the National Football League.
Pittsburgh defeated Oakland 24-13 to earn the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl IX.
This was the second consecutive AFC title game contested by the Raiders, and also their third AFC Championship Game and sixth title game in the Super Bowl era.[lower-alpha 2] Oakland won the AFC West with a 12-2 regular season record and defeated the AFC East champion, three-timedefendingAFC champion and two-timedefending Super Bowl championMiami Dolphins 28-26 at Oakland Coliseum in the Divisonal Round to advance to the AFC Championship game.
This was the second AFC title game contested in the past three seasons by the Steelers. Pittsburgh won the AFC Central with a 10–3–1 regular season record and defeated the AFC East runner-up Buffalo Bills 32-14 at Three Rivers Stadium in the Divisonal Round to reach the AFC title game.
This was the third playoff meeting in as many seasons between these teams (and third such meeting overall) and their first meeting in an AFC title game. Both previous meetings came in the AFC Divisional Round, with the Steelers winning in 1972 and the Raiders winning in 1973.
The teams met at Three Rivers Stadium in Week 3 of the regular season, with the visiting Raiders shutting out the Steelers 17-0. The Raiders entered the game as heavy favorites.
After trailing 10–3 at the end of the third quarter, the Steelers scored three touchdowns in the final period to earn their first championship appearance in team history.
The first half was controlled by both defenses. Oakland got a big opportunity in the first quarter when they recovered a muffed punt by Lynn Swann on the Steelers 41-yard line, but Mel Blount‘s deflection of a 3rd down pass by Ken Stabler forced them to settle for a 40-yard field goal from George Blanda. Meanwhile, the Steelers got close to the Oakland end zone twice, but each time they had to settle for Roy Gerela field goal attempts. He missed his first one from 20 yards in the first quarter but kicked a 23-yard field goal in the second to tie the game at 3 going into halftime.
Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert blocked a Blanda field goal in the second quarter, however in the second half, the Raiders eventually took a 10–3 lead with Ken Stabler’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Cliff Branch. But Pittsburgh tied the game again six seconds into the fourth quarter with Franco Harris‘ 8-yard touchdown run at the end of a 61-yard drive. Then linebacker Jack Ham intercepted a pass from Stabler (his second interception of the day) and returned it to the Raiders’ 9-yard line, setting up Bradshaw’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Swann. Oakland responded with a drive to the Steelers 7-yard line, featuring a 45-yard reception by Fred Biletnikoff, but on 3rd down, a blitz by defensive back Mike Wagner forced Stabler to throw the ball away, and the team to setting for a 24-yard Blanda field goal, and the Steelers still led, 17–13.
Oakland got the ball back for a chance to drive for a go-ahead touchdown, but J. T. Thomas made a clutch interception and returned the ball 37 yards to the Raiders 24. Harris then scored on a 21-yard rushing touchdown to put the game away.
Harris rushed for 111 yards and 2 scores, while Rocky Bleier added 98 rushing yards and 2 receptions for 25. Branch finished the game with 9 receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown.