The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is really that good.
The Steelers, who lead the league with 42 sacks (two more than the Dallas Cowboys), haven’t allowed anyone to rush for 100 yards all year. That even includes the game against the NFL’s best running team, the New York Giants, who were held to 83 yards on the ground. The NFL average is about 114 yards per game. But keep in mind that the Giants WON THE GAME 21-14. We will get to that later.
The Steelers defense also has not allowed more than 300 yards passing. Tony Romo has thrown for more than 300 yards in every game since his return.
If you remember in the Giants-Steelers game, the Steelers dominated the Giants for most of the game, but fell apart late. Ben Roethlisberger threw four interceptions. The Steelers were1-of-14 on third and fourth downs. They converted just 1 of 10 third-down attempts and failed on all four fourth-down attempts. The game also had a bizarre safety and numerous backup players starting for injured players on the Steelers. And they still almost won, and they probably should have won. With backups.
They are that good.
So, what are the Steelers bad at? Punting and penalties.
The Steelers are last in the NFL with 39 yards a punt. They also have more penalty yards than each of their opponents. However, it should be noted that the Cowboys actually have more penalized yards than the Steelers, the first time the Steelers face an opponent like that all season. Yikes.
If we assume that the Steelers defense is going to come prepared and perform as usual, the Dallas Cowboys will have to rely on field position and mistakes to win this game. The Steelers are just a better overall team chiefly because of their secondary and overall defense. The Cowboys are nothing to laugh at defensively, but their secondaries do not compare.
We have to assume that the Cowboys will have a real difficult time rushing the ball no matter who is back there. Since the Steelers have never given up 300 yards in the air, we can assume Tony Romo will be held to under 300 yards, which has helped the Cowboys win three games in a row.
But the Cowboys can capitalize on good field position, an average of 19 extra yards after a punt. They can also capitalize on Steelers mistakes, including penalties on third downs that keep drives alive. In fact, the Cowboys MUST capitalize on what the Steelers do regularly. They have a lot of penalties that keep drives alive and they punt poorly.
So on those two times, hypothetically, when the Cowboys start on their 45 yard line, they have to get points on the board. And when the Steelers have a penalty when the Cowboys are driving to score, the Cowboys must put points on the board.
Oftentimes, the Steelers have made these errors, but the other teams did not capitalize on those errors. The Giants did. And they won.