Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
3rd season in pro football & with Steelers
College: Kent State
Height: 6’4” Weight: 220
Lambert was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference linebacker in college and the Steelers chose him in the second round of the 1974 NFL draft. Injuries to MLB Henry Davis opened an opportunity for Lambert to start right away, and his addition was to make an already sound defense more complete. The Steelers won the Super Bowl and Lambert followed up his outstanding rookie season by gaining Pro Bowl recognition for the first of nine straight seasons in 1975, which also ended in a NFL Championship.
1976 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]
Interceptions – 2
Most interceptions, game – 1 at Minnesota 10/4, vs. Cincinnati 10/17
Int. return yards – 32
Most int. return yards, game – 22 (on 1 int.) vs. Cincinnati 10/17
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 8
Postseason: 2 G
Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 0
TD – 0
Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-AFC: AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Steelers went 10-4 to finish first in the AFC Central Division while leading the NFL in fewest yards allowed (3323), fewest rushing yards allowed (1457), and fewest points allowed (138). Won AFC Divisional playoff over Baltimore Colts (40-14). Lost AFC Championship to Oakland Raiders (24-7).
Lambert followed up with his third straight Pro Bowl season in 1977. A terrific run-stuffer with outstanding range and the ability to drop back effectively into pass coverage, he became a key contributor to the “Steel Curtain” defense that helped make the Steelers a contender for the rest of the decade and included two more Super Bowl victories. In addition to his Pro Bowl selections, Lambert received consensus first-team All-NFL honors six times – including five consecutive from 1979 to ’83 – and had at least some first- or second-team recognition in two other years. He missed only six games due to injury in his first ten seasons (three of them in 1977), but a severe toe injury forced Lambert’s retirement following the 1984 season. Overall, he intercepted 28 passes and recovered 17 fumbles. Lambert was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1990. Three other players drafted by the Steelers in 1974 – Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster – would also be enshrined in Canton.
MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). Also includes Associated Press NFL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.