Pittsburgh Steelers: Super Bowl Contender or Lucky Pretender?

Matt CraigContributor IDecember 9, 2008

Last Sunday, when Deshea Townsend intercepted Tony Romo on the Dallas 26-yard line and ran into the end zone for the go ahead touchdown that ultimately won the game, Bill Hillgrove was going nuts.

After reading Mike Craig's picks for Week 14, I left a comment and told him the Steelers would win the game.

After the game, I bragged about it in his comments. Mike told me the Steelers were lucky, which is something I have been hearing a lot.

There was nothing lucky about the Steelers' victory over the Cowboys. 

It was not lucky that Santonio Holmes returned a punt 33 yards that set up a Jeff Reed field goal which made it a one possession game. The Steelers defense was dominating all day, making Romo throw errant passes.

The only blemishes against the Steelers were three plays.

The first was a 3rd-and-3 play when Tashard Choice ran for 22 yards, keeping the drive alive. That led to a Romo pass to Terrell Owens for a touchdown on a broken play. 

Take away Choice's run—no touchdown. 

The last play was a Romo pass to Choice that went for 50 yards and led to a Folk field goal which would be the last time Dallas scored.

The Steelers had a drive that saw them march down the field only to get shut down on the goal line by a good Dallas defense. 

So after the 4th-and-goal, there was less than eight minutes left in the game. 

Pittsburgh scored 17 points in eight minutes with good offense and defense, not luck.

Holmes' return, then the eight-play, 67-yard drive capped by a Ben Roethlisberger pass to Heath Miller for a touchdown to knot up the game, were not luck.

Townsend's pick was not lucky either.

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley pressured Romo into throwing when he was not ready and sailed the ball too high.  Townsend was there to pick it off and score. 

Mike Ditka from ESPN's NFL Countdown said the best team won—good teams find a way to win and average teams find a way to lose.  Dallas found a way to lose.

To all the naysayers, Pittsburgh, in my opinion, is the team to beat in the AFC. 

Keep this in mind—the Steelers had four comeback victories when they trailed in the fourth quarter: week 11 against San Diego, week five against Jacksonville, week four against Baltimore, which was won in overtime, and now the Dallas Cowboys fall victim to the last quarter heroics of the Steelers. 

It wasn't lucky the Steelers started playing football at the right time and Dallas decided to quit playing.

The next two weeks will be real challenges for the Steelers, as they face Baltimore and Tennessee, who are the second and third ranked defenses in the league. Both games are on the road and will probably be like the Pittsburgh/Dallas game—low scoring. 

Pittsburgh is a team that is up to the challenge. They are 8-1 versus the AFC this year.

Unlike the Steelers from last season, they are getting healthy at the right time and I'm personally looking forward to the next two weekends of the NFL. 

Final Diagnosis: Super Bowl Contenders.

Will they make it there? I don't want to say yes and be disappointed later, but they will make a run for it. 

The 2008 Steelers have the same qualities as the 2005 Steelers. It would be cool to see the Steelers write history again by being the first to six, but you have to play one week at a time and there is still a lot of football left.