Going into this week’s game the Pittsburgh Steelers understood what was on the line. The Cincinnati Bengals had already won and the Indianapolis Colts had already lost, so the playoffs were still firmly in sight, but they had to show up and beat the Dallas Cowboys to hold serve. One half into the game and you are starting to see it’s sinking in after they trailed early and drew even at the end of the half 10-10.
The good news is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appears to be healthy and hitting on all cylinders. You need to look no further than that touchdown in the closing minutes of the half that he’s back and better than ever. He and tight end Heath Miller are on the same page and the Cowboys have no answer for that connection.
The bad news is the run game just can’t get moving and the offensive line isn’t helping at all. I really expected the Steelers to come out and set up the run, but the Cowboys defense has stuffed the run at every turn and forced the Steelers to throw the football. In the second half they are going to have to come up with some ways to convert some first downs and that means using the run to make them more manageable.
On defense the Steelers continue to play rock solid forcing stops when they have to, and even getting a turnover. The bad news is they have not gotten any real pressure on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and I have to think defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is going to work hard at halftime to fix that. Romo is too good to allow to just stand back there and throw the football on a hobbled Steelers secondary.
Overall, I am pleased with how the Steelers finished the half, finally waking up in the 2nd quarterback just how important this game is. In the 2nd half look for more Big Ben on offense and some unique ways to pressure Romo on defense, possibly committing more bodies to it, and forcing their corners to cover man without deep safety help. The Steelers just need to hold onto the momentum they went into halftime with and they can win this big road matchup and hold onto their playoff hopes.