Looking for the Christmas trifecta

There is perhaps nothing that will put a smile on the face of Pittsburgh Steelers fans more than back-to-back victories over the Patriots and Cowboys.

There is perhaps nothing that will put a smile on the face of Pittsburgh Steelers fans more than back-to-back victories over the Patriots and Cowboys.

OK, maybe a win next week at Baltimore would really be the Christmas trifecta, but you get the idea.

The Steelers are smack dab in the middle of a four-game stretch that was supposed to show just how good they really are. They're 2-0.

I guess that means they're pretty good.

Sunday's win over Dallas wasn't pretty – despite head coach Mike Tomlin's claim that it was – but it was a victory.

And few of the Steelers' victories this season have been particularly pretty. When you win by playing suffocating defense, that's going to be the case.

The Steelers are now 10-3 and even the most ardent of fans would not have predicted that when the team's schedule was released earlier this year.

© Dallas picked up five sacks Sunday, but really, only two were the fault of the offensive line.

The first sack came on a corner blitz and two others were a case of Ben Roethlisberger holding the ball well past the point he should have.

Then again, Roethlisberger made a play scrambling around in the fourth quarter, so once again, things have a way of evening out.

© Was there a worse use of a challenge in the history of challenges than Wade Phillips' decision to challenge whether Roethlisberger's knee was down late in the third quarter?

Phillips had already used a challenge in the first half and loss and even though he won the second challenge – giving Jason Hatcher a sack – was there really any difference between second-and-10 from the 18 and second-and-18 from the 26?

I'm guessing Phillips realized that with about five minutes to go when Nate Washington had a questionable catch in front of the Dallas bench on the Steelers' game-tying touchdown drive.

I don't know if Washington got both hands under the ball or not, but neither does Phillips. And he won't know for sure until he looks at the film.

© Just a note for all of the Mike Tomlin bashers out there. He's the first coach in Steelers' history to win 10 games in each of his first two seasons.

© It was dicey at the end, but the Steelers defense has now held 13-straight opponents under 300 yards of offense this season, the second-longest such streak since the NFL merger in 1970.

Dallas finished with 289 yards and rookie running back Tashard Choice hurt them a couple of times. But forcing five turnovers in back-to-back games against quality competition more than makes up for that.

© The running game was back to its sporadic old self Sunday and that has to be a concern.

Then again, when your backs only carry the ball 21 times, the running game isn't going to have a lot to show for it.

Maybe Bruce Arians liked the Steelers' matchups in the secondary better than he did their ability to run the ball, but the conditions for throwing the ball weren't all that good Sunday. In fact, they were really bad.

But he's the offensive coordinator of a 10-3 team and I'm not, so what the heck do I know?

© Tony Romo hadn't thrown an interception in the fourth quarter this season until Sunday.

Way to break the seal on that one.

© Fans who were booing punter Mitch Berger needed to take a closer look at the conditions.

The wind was definitely in their face going into the close end of the field and when both teams were moving in that direction, that's when bad things happened.

All three touchdowns were into the open end zone - including Townsend's.

And every bad punt in this game was booted toward the closed end. That's why the Steelers deferred after winning the coin toss and chose to open the game kicking toward the open end zone.

© The Steelers' kick coverage teams are the best that I've seen in the 16 seasons I've covered this team. And I'm talking about opposing teams as well.

And we've even begun to see some flashes in the return game in recent weeks, most notably Santonio Holmes' 35-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.

© We've now seen James Harrison and DeMarcus Ware on the same field together and Harrison is by far the more disruptive force.

Ware had five tackles and a sack Sunday, while Harrison had eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

He also nearly killed Adam Jones on a punt return early in the game.

Harrison has to be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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