Franco Harris rushed for a career-high 179 yards, scoring two touchdowns, and Terry Bradshaw passed for two more TDs to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 28-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys today.

Harris broke loose for 61 yards on one of his touchdowns and plunged three yards for the other.

he defeat left the Cowboys with an 8-2 record in the NFC East, a game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals (7-3) and 2 1/2 ahead of the Washington Redskins (5-4), who play Green Bay at RFK Stadium Monday night.

The Steelers (6-4) remain tied with Cleveland atop the AFC Central, with Cincinnati and Houston a game back with 5-5 records.

The defeat spoiled the homecoming and first NFL start for rookie Tony Dorsett. He rushed for 73 yards on 17 carries in his first game here since he led Pitt to the national collegiate title a season ago.

Dorsett put the Cowboys in front in the first quarter on a 13-yard sprint, running through defensive tackle Joe Greene and linebacker Jack Ham for a touchdown.

The Steelers' Harris set up the drive when he fumbled and linebacker Tom Henderson recovered for Dallas on the Pittsburgh 37-yard line. Staubach passed 13 yards to tight end Billy Joe DuPree, but on third and one at the Pittsburgh 15, Dorsett was held without gain.

On a fourth-down gamble, Dorsett dived over for a two-yard gain, then scored on the next play. Efran Herrera's conversion attempt was blocked by linebacker Dennis Winston.

Jim Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards and on the first play from scrimmage, Harris got a block from center Mike Webster, broke an arm tackle by Ed (Too Tall) Jones, and ran 61 yards for a touchdown. Roy Gereta converted for a 7-6 lead.

Dallas went 75 yards to score, on a 23-yard pass from Staubach to tight end Jay Saldi. Dorsett faked the Steelers with a dive into the line on the third-and-one play to help make the pass work.

A 43-yard kickoff return by Alvin position and Bradshaw passed 21 yards to tight end Bennie Cunningham to the Dallas nine-yard line.

Wide receiver Lynn Swann faked a crack-back block but curled out into the end zone and caught a touchdown pass from Bradshaw. Gerela converted for a 14-13 lead at halftime.

The Steelers extended their advantage to 28-13 with two touchdowns in the third quarter.

The first was a 62-yard drive. Harris ran 17 yards before Bradshaw passed 28 yards to wide receiver John Stallworth for the touchdown.

The Steelers scored again when safety Jim Allen gambled on a hanging pass Staubach intended for running back Bob Newhouse and intercepted. He ran 48 yards to the Dallas two and Harris plunged for a touchdown on the next play.