Blog Entry

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

Posted on: December 2, 2008 6:54 am
Edited on: December 2, 2008 12:23 pm

It was once a storied rivalry in the NFL, going as far back to when there was an only an NFL and the AFL was starting out.  A rivalry that would end up providing a true “hatred” against the others team and spark passion with their fans each time they meet up.  It would lead Sports Illustrated to declare the quarterback rivalry of Bradshaw and Staubach as the top quarterback rivalry in the history of the NFL.  No doubt, when you talk about rivalries, this one will top all rivalries to come. 

Not to diminish the division rivalries or conference rivalries because these, for the most part are seen year in and year out on the way to the big game.  But, this one would go as far as the final game of the year, the Superbowl. In fact, if you go through the history of the Superbowl era teams that have faced each other for the Lombardi Trophy, the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers will have faced each other more then any other teams.  Three times, in fact.  In those three meetings, the Steelers would hold the advantage 2-1. 
The younger ones may only remember only the Aikmann/O’Neill game, but those of us old enough to remember, those of us that are now sipping geritol and getting around on our walkers remember the true spirit of this rivalry. 

But, this isn’t the Superbowl and as much as I would love to muse on the possibilities of two 5 time superbowl champions meeting under the lights in February, I should focus on the now and present. 

The meetings between the Cowboys and the Steelers have become few and far between now.  In fact, the last time these two teams met was in week 6 of 2004 at Texas Stadium.  In that matchup, the Steelers won 24-20.  Now, four years later, the Cowboys will be going to Heinz Field.  It will be the first time that Tony Romo and this Cowboy team as a team has played here (though one or two of their players can remember losing there).

For the Cowboys, this game could very well be a must win, to stay alive in the race for the playoffs, for the Steelers, well, a win would continue to give them breathing room to stay on top of the AFC North and not have them rely on another team, ironically, the Cowboys in their last game at Baltimore. 

What can we analyze about this game that would give us an accurate barometer.  We can go on common opponents, both teams having won their respective games against Cincinnati, Cleveland and Washington. Defensive stats, well both defenses are extremely good in the pass-rush and getting to the quarterback.  Dallas is a close second in leading the league in sacks at 40, the Steelers have registered only 2 more sacks.  Sacks allowed, well, it’s no secret that the Steelers oline has had it’s problems.  Of course, the Cowboys oline has, in itself, done a good job at protecting their quarterback with allowing only 18 sacks.  Each respective defense have registered 9 forced fumbles and in passing defense and interceptions the Steelers have the edge with 13 interceptions to the Cowboys six. 

I can dwell on stats all day, but this game will be based on the intangibles.  Both quarterbacks are getting healthy from injuries.  Ben Roethlisberger plagues by a shoulder injury and Tony Romo having just come back from a finger fracture.  Though Romo has only been sacked an average of 1 per game, what’s not shown in those stats is that he was sacked 3 times by the Packers defense and 3 by the Cardinals defense.  And though Romo may not have been sacked 4 times against the Giants defense, the Dallas oline did give up those sacks.  So when faced with formidable pass rush, yes, the Cowboys quarterback can be gotten to.  Of course the same can be said about the Steelers oline. 

But again, back to the intangibles.  They are calling for snow in Pittsburgh in the 10-day forecast.  It will be cold, it will be windy and it’s this time of year that is not good for the long deep balls.  Don’t let the scores on the Steelers offense fool you.  The best way to handle a high powered offense is to keep them on the bench.  In the last three games, the Steelers offense had maintained control of the ball for 35 minutes or more.  In the last two games, the offense had found away, not only to get it in the endzone on 3d and shorts.  Had the receivers caught the balls that were placed in their hands, Ben’s numbers would be just a wee bit better.  In fact, the Steelers offense is starting to click at the right time, when it counts. 

The play on the oline has begun to improve, not only on pass protection but also on opening up the holes.  How well will the oline do now against the Cowboys defense, well hard to say, they haven’t faced a formidable pass rushing team since their improvement, but should be at least a little better then in the past given that we’re seeing more mixup in plays, Ben getting out of the pocket and/or releasing the ball more quickly.  It will also depend on the status of Cowboys DeMarcus Ware and his status. 

This game may more then likely come down to who has more mistakes.  The turnover ratio could be an indicator with Pittsburgh with a plus 4 to the Cowboys minus 5. 

No, the Steelers offense is not a high powered offense and this game is an NFL game in December, not BCS football.  Given that the Steelers haven’t allowed one team all season to go 300 yds total on them, this won’t be a high powered shootout but will be dependent on the run, and the quarterback who makes the least mistakes. 

Historical Reference :  Due to the thought there may have been a reference to the Steelers being in the AFL, I should clarify.  The reference to the NFL and AFL was to establish a timeline.  It would be 1960 when the Dallas Cowboys would enter the NFL and play their first professional football game against...the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Both teams were part of the original NFL.  That same year, the American Football League had been formed.  . 


Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2008 10:40 am

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

Hey Momluvs,

Its been a while, just got back home on Thanksgiving night, albeit if only for a couple of weeks before I'm off again soon. Haven't been able to post very much since I've got back as everything is pretty hectic to say the least ! LOL Belated congrats on the Steelers dominating win over the Patriots last week, the second half was all theirs and the defense flat out kicked the Pats butt ! It wasn't pretty unless of course you're a Steelers fan LOL

This weeks game should be a good one with two old rivals renewing unpleasantries in Pittsburg. The weather and conditions favor the Steelers especially since Marion Barber is supposed to be out for this game. Both defenses are excellent at getting to the QB, I think Ben Roethlisberger will have to make his reads and get rid of the ball quickly this week. The Pats pass rush most of this season has been non-existent, so he wont have the luxury of last week. I think he will go to Heath Miller a lot as well as Hines Ward on short stuff. Dallas' secondary is not very good. If you can buy you're QB time, they can be had. That, and I think they (Pittsburgh) will continue to pound the ball and mix it up which they also did very well last week.

I think Tony Romo will be looking to go short a lot this week, with the weather conditions and the pass rush that he will face, so the Steelers will be seeing a lot of Jason Witten all game, no big surprise there. He's one of the best TEs in the game and is Romo's safety valve. I think if they can take him away then the game will be won fairly easily. I think initially he''ll be looking to Terrell Owens in the short to medium game a lot also, but if he has time, they will try to take a shot downfield. But no Barber will hurt the Dallas offense today.

Anyway best of luck this week, and for the rest of the season. Holiday wishes to you, your family and Steehat and some of the other Steeler fans who we correspond with all the time.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2008 10:20 am

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry


Last meeting between the Boys and the Steelers, the Steelers won it by a close one in Texas stadium.  The Boys hold the edge in the past 14-12, but the Steelers hold the series by one when in Pittsburgh.  It's not Three Rivers.  The winds swirl on one side of the field.  It will be windy, it will be cold.  Ike Taylor covered T.O. pretty well the last time that TO met the Steelers when he was with the Eagles. 

If the Steelers offense does as well as it has done in the past few games, I'm seeing shades of '05 with this season.  But the defense needs to continue to play the way they're playing. 

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2008 10:12 am

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry


It will be interesting to see how the olines do match up.  A lot depends on how well the QB is going to react to the rush.  When we've seen Ben against the rush in the Eagles and Giants game, there wasn't alot of change in plays.  No screens, staying in the pocket, holding on to the ball too long, plus couldn't get the running game going.  Watching some of the clips of Romo against the rush, the oline doesn't provide him the same type of protection and has been questionable for Dallas too.  I've seen quite a few five step drop backs that caught Romo in the sack.

No doubt the Steelers do have a better turnover ratio with a +4 to Dallas's -5.  Given that Troy Polamalu now leads the league in interceptions, plus Bryant McFadden, who unlike Ike Taylor, does catch balls thrown directly to him, I'm a little more comfortable with our secondary.  It's not the opponents secondary that's bothered me this season, Ben's interceptions have been more at the hands of defenders who have been playing short coverage, rather then long balls down the field.  If Ben plays the way he's been doing the last few games, then it should be a little more even out. 

Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2008 6:39 pm

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

I will be sitting by the fireplace in my Eames Era soft pad lounge chair rooting for the Steelers

Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: December 4, 2008 9:14 am

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

Good Morning Mom,

First things first, love the avatar...

This is football at its finest... the Steelers and the Cowboys...

I think back to when I was a child and this game would have been played in yard 100 times prior to Sunday, mimicking Terry Bradshaw throwing to Lynn Swann, Joe Greene tackling Tony Dorsett... ah the good old days when football was just that a game...

Now some 30 years later, it has become so much more... understanding that each game can not be replayed in the yard once it is over was a frightening revelation... my game did not count??? So here I sit thinking about Sunday, analyzing the match-ups, thinking about play calling, worrying about weather... the agony of waiting for the game to start, because my yard can no longer suffice as a pre-game ritual...

So memories of Bradshaw and Staubach, Harris and Dorsett, White and Green and of course Lambert and Harris (how is your head???) will get me through this week... but images of Harrison and Ware, Roethlisberger and Romo, Ward and Owens are all getting ready for Sunday...

To a wonderful Rivalry renewed... not quite a Superbowl... yet... but it will be a wonderful game... and I am looking forward to waving my Terrible Towel much like I did with Stalworth and Swann in 78...

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!!!

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: December 2, 2008 3:01 pm

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

     Nostalgia.  Nice stuff.
     Going over your analysis of possible indicators, mum,
Steelers have the defensive edge in 3rd down efficiency;
Dallas, as you point out, exert significantly more QB pressure
than Pittsburgh, but substantially less in their Away games.
      On turn-overs, by venue, both suffer, although Dallas
away suffers more than Pittsburgh Home.
      As you point out, the recent improvement in the performance
of the Steelers' O line has not been against quality opposition;
on the other hand, Dallas away doesn't exert nearly the same
pressure (so far).
      Dallas' principal defensive weakness is its' secondary
which is beatable everywhere - IF you can get your ball out,
and out to someone who will catch the football.
      You'll remember that I am no longer calling Steeler
games ATS.  So, the curse may be off of them.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 2, 2008 12:13 pm

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

In other words...I don't think I ever said that the Steelers were part of the AFL...just used the time lines to note the birth of the rivalry.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 2, 2008 12:11 pm

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

Actually poetz, I guess it can be assumed that I was inferring that the team rivalry came about due to the Steelers being in the AFL. Not sure where I said that either team was part of the AFL...but I guess I can see where the assumption comes in.  Cowboys first game when they came into the NFL in 1960 was against the Steelers at the Cotton Bowl.  The AFL actually was formed the same year. 


Since: Feb 25, 2007
Posted on: December 2, 2008 11:41 am

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry

Good post mom.  But the Steelers were a part of the NFL long before the Cowboys were and were never in the AFL; they moved to the American Conference, along with the Browns and the Colts, to give each conference 13 teams at the start of the 1970 season.  Even though the Steelers and the Browns are rivals, I have havere been able to root for the Cowboys after reading North Dallas Forty.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 2, 2008 11:01 am

Remnants of An Age Old Rivalry


LOL on the icicles from Romo's nose.  I'm hoping to see a good defense too.  Though Romo has been pretty good against good defenses, the number of points he's put up aren't as many as they were, say against the more average defenses, so it's not impossible to hold Dallas to a few 3d and out.

Eh, I felt bad for Jackie Smith, even though I'm a Steelers fan...a day or two after the game that is.  for as good as Smith was, his shining legacy is that play in the SB. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or