Vic Carucci reports from the Cowboys-Steelers game. Check back later for his complete column.
PITTSBURGH — It’s always the same with the Steelers, isn’t it? Great defense carries the day, and perhaps the season.
We’ve seen this story time and again for the last, oh, 30 years or so. We’ve seen it with the final chapter being written with a Super Bowl victory … multiple Super Bowl victories.
So what if Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked all day? So what if the Steelers can’t run and their offense can only produce 13 points?
Pittsburgh’s defense is strong enough to overcome, and it did so again with the Steelers’ 20-13 victory over the Cowboys. Deshea Townsend scored the winning points on a 25-yard INT return in the final minutes Sunday.
The tone for this game was set in the first half when the Steelers forced four turnovers and twice stopped the Cowboys on fourth-down conversion attempts.
The Steelers, who turned the ball over twice and were stopped on fourth-and-goal from the Dallas 1-yard line, played poorly enough on offense to fall into a 13-3 hole in the second half.
But they seemed inspired by the fact that the Cowboys defense celebrated a bit too much after the goal-line stand, which came with 12:20 left in the fourth quarter. It was, clearly, way too early to celebrate, and you just sensed that the Steelers would have something to say about it later.
I will say this about Cowboys, however: They have pretty good depth in their backfield. The absence of starting running back Marion Barber, who was inactive with a dislocated toe, did not prove all that damaging — even with their No. 2 back, rookie Felix Jones, already lost for the season. Another rookie, Tashard Choice, picked up the slack nicely by rushing for 88 yards and catching five passes for 78 yards.
Of course, with the Giants having clinched the NFC East on Sunday and the Eagles being revived, the Cowboys could find themselves missing the postseason even if they win their final three games.