Now, I couldn't find enough clothes to keep my 50-year old bones from bursting out in occasional Tourette's syndrome-like shaking. Cold induced dementia had me rooting more like a fan than as a broadcaster as the game seemed to be getting away from Pittsburgh's favorite team. The sidelines of Heinz field were colder than a tin toilet in Siberia as the Steelers floundered in the second half against the Cowboys.
Things were not going swimmingly for the Steelers at this point. Down 13-3 as the game moved towards the end of the 3rd quarter, I kept thinking to myself "Where's the magic?" I need to see some thunder and lightning from number seven; it's that time of the year when championship teams find championship ways to pull a rabbit out of a hat. It starts with the belief in destiny, and it rides on the shoulders of your quarterback. Or the defense rises up with some acrobatics that bulldog the ‘boys. A game that becomes the reference point you look back on that tells a team they're readying their sword for some serious pillaging as each team eyes the playoff run. "C'mon show me the power, let's see what you got!" I felt like that little kid from the movie Angels in the Outfield, "It could happen!"
At this point in the game Ben is 8 of 23 for around 75 yards and been deposited on his duff 3 times. There's been nothing pointing to a comeback. Then it happened. Facing a third and 16 from their own 20 yard line, Big Ben starts the magic. Santonio Holmes goes Seinfeld and says "Hello Newman" on a go route up the sidelines and rips the ‘boys Terence Newman for 47 yards. There's a spark. A little bit of lightning. But it's a drive that flames out when somebody busts on a goal line assignment and Gary Russell gets crushed on a 4th and 1.
During the ensuing timeout as the Cowboys are woofing it up as they huddle in the end zone I'm thinking it's a little too early for these guys to be celebrating. There's still 12:20 left in the game. Mentally, when you take the foot off the gas, it's hard to reload. The video "Renegade" comes on and it's like patching a flat tire, the crowd pumps to the music, but it's leaking.
The defense does its job and holds. No thunder, but the intensity picks up. Again a little lightning cracks as Santonio hornswoggles the Dallas punt cover team and one-hops it catching them a little lazy in their coverage. Following the 4th sack of the second half, the Steelers settle for a field goal to make it 13-6.
Now I'm really muttering to myself. It's so cold my Jolly Ranchers won't melt, even in my mouth. I've seen a little magic, only to see it snuffed shortly after it appears, but I can't convince myself its over, unlike the Cowboys who seem to think this one's in the bag. Body language is big at field level. After another defense induced Dallas punt the Steelers take over at their own 33 yard line.
That's when the quarterback not dating Jessica Simpson heats up and goes 4 of 6 for 57 yards and a touchdown toss to Heath Miller. GADZOOKS! Lightning and thunder! Up in his box, Mr. Rooney wants to go for two, but Mike Tomlin shows Mr. Rooney is no Al Davis by kicking to tie the game at 13-13.
Maybe the most important call of the day comes down from the press box, and the order is given. Play the Renegade video again! Only two times has the Renegade video been played twice in one game, and it first happened a few years ago when the Steelers played Cleveland in the playoffs at Heinz Field. And everybody knows how that one ended. To quote the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughn, "The house is a rocking."
Right now, the Cowboys demeanor has changed. No longer is there a celebratory dance in between plays by the players, and the cocky arrogance the Cowboys were strutting around with just moments ago is gone, except for one. THE quarterback dating Jessica Simpson, Tony Romo is yapping his gums off at the Steelers D. He's honked off at the Steelers for calling a timeout.
Romo drops back to pass, Lamar Woodley busts inside on the rush and Romo has a good look at Woodley's teeth as Lamar scares him into another terrible throw. Looking more like Homer Simpson, Romo launches one up for grabs. DeShea Townsend, running a coverage that they haven't shown the Cowboys all day, heads off for a pick six that all but slams the door on the Cowboys! I'm watching as Mudville goes berserko and all of Heinz field erupts in a gigantic roar!
There's the magic, I think to myself. There it is. Yep, that's how it goes when you wear the burden of not just a team, but an entire Steelers Nation on your back. But its games like this that produce the belief that starts to jell into purpose. The season is so long you can't look ahead in September, or October. But when the snow flies, its "December football." And that means one thing. But I'm not going to say it. Not yet.