Steel rusts, they said. Old age and two straight years out of the playoffs guarantee corrosion.

So tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers defied physics. They did so by defying the Dallas Cowboys.

Pittsburgh defeated Dallas, 36-28, before 63,431, the 44th straight sellout at Texas Stadium, in a nationally televised National Football League game.

Consequently, achieving stadium capacity was the only streak still alive late tonight as the Cowboys lost their streak of 17 consecutive season-opening victories and 18 consecutive wins at Texas Stadium. They had not lost here since the Los Angeles Rams beat them, 21-19, in the 1979 playoffs. They had never lost here with Danny White starting at quarterback. But the Steelers have beaten the Cowboys five straight times.

"Age," said 34-year-old Pittsburgh cornerback Mel Blout, "is only a state of mind. The press can say we are old, but they can't steal our abilities."

Pittsburgh won for these reasons: Terry Bradshaw, age 33, threw three touchdown passes; Franco Harris, age 32, ran for 103 yards; John Stallworth, age 30, caught seven passes for 137 yards and one touchdown.

But these were only the names. The notion of significance was this: the Steelers reversed a 14-13 halftime deficit by turning a blocked punt and two interceptions into 17 third-quarter points. Pittsburgh led, 33-14, early in the fourth quarter.

All of which left Dallas Coach Tom Landry saying, "We sputtered in the third quarter. The whole game was the third quarter . . . I think we beat ourselves."

But Dallas did not confront that unfamiliar 0-1 record until Gary Anderson, Pittsburgh's 23-year-old rookie kicker, made a 40-yard field goal with 1:02 left, meaning that even a desperation touchdown couldn't affect the outcome.

Afterward, the press pinched and poked, but couldn't get Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh coach since 1969, to talk about the past. He would only say, "I just have this feeling about this football team . . . I think we will get better and better."

After White and Bradshaw matched two first-half touchdown passes, only a missed extra point gave Dallas the edge at halftime.

From then on, the game was positively Pittsburgh.

Three minutes into the third quarter, defensive tackle Keith Willis blocked a punt by White from the Dallas five and the Steelers recovered on the 19. Six plays later, Frank Pollard ran one yard for the touchdown that gave Pittsburgh the lead, 20-14.

On the next Dallas possession, White was intercepted by safety Rick Woods on the Dallas 35. Five plays later, Bradshaw threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jim Smith, the wide receiver's second scoring catch off the humid evening. With 6:53 left in the third quarter, Pittsburgh led, 27-14.

Three plays later, linebacker Jack Ham, age 33, intercepted a pass by White on the Dallas 32. Six plays later, Anderson kicked a 26-yard field goal and Pittsburgh led, 30-14. That made 17 straight Pittsburgh points.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Anderson kicked a 43-yard field goal and it was 33-14.

White, who completed 25 of 36 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns, then threw a 45-yard scoring pass to Tony Hill with 10:41 left. Pittsburgh's lead was cut to 33-21.

Then, White threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Billy Joe DuPree with 5:47 left. Pittsburgh's lead was down to 33-28. There was tension.

But the steel on the east sideline didn't melt in the heat.

This is the time when the Steelers of the '70s -- Bradshaw and Harris -- showed how they have avoided becoming nomadic, while wandering in the generation gap. Five times Harris pounded into the line. Each play, Bradshaw maintained his offensive cool. These two helped take four minutes off the clock. Experience, their play told critics, is the antidote to corrosion.

So, with 1:02 left, Dallas out of time outs and out of luck, Anderson kicked 'Old' Steelers Age Cowboys With Passing By Gary Pomerantz Washington Post Staff Writer

IRVING, Tex., Sept. 13--Steel rusts, they said. Old age and two straight years out of the playoffs guarantee corrosion.

So tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers defied physics. They did so by defying the Dallas Cowboys.

Pittsburgh defeated Dallas, 36-28, before 63,431, the 44th straight sellout at Texas Stadium, in a nationally televised National Football League game.

Consequently, achieving stadium capacity was the only streak still alive late tonight as the Cowboys lost their streak of 17 consecutive season-opening victories and 18 consecutive wins at Texas Stadium. They had not lost here since the Los Angeles Rams beat them, 21-19, in the 1979 playoffs. They had never lost here with Danny White starting at quarterback. But the Steelers have beaten the Cowboys five straight times.

"Age," said 34-year-old Pittsburgh cornerback Mel Blout, "is only a state of mind. The press can say we are old, but they can't steal our abilities."

Pittsburgh won for these reasons: Terry Bradshaw, age 33, threw three touchdown passes; Franco Harris, age 32, ran for 103 yards; John Stallworth, age 30, caught seven passes for 137 yards and one touchdown.

But these were only the names. The notion of significance was this: the Steelers reversed a 14-13 halftime deficit by turning a blocked punt and two interceptions into 17 third-quarter points. Pittsburgh led, 33-14, early in the fourth quarter.

All of which left Dallas Coach Tom Landry saying, "We sputtered in the third quarter. The whole game was the third quarter . . . I think we beat ourselves."

But Dallas did not confront that unfamiliar 0-1 record until Gary Anderson, Pittsburgh's 23-year-old rookie kicker, made a 40-yard field goal with 1:02 left, meaning that even a desperation touchdown couldn't affect the outcome.

Afterward, the press pinched and poked, but couldn't get Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh coach since 1969, to talk about the past. He would only say, "I just have this feeling about this football team . . . I think we will get better and better."

After White and Bradshaw matched two first-half touchdown passes, only a missed extra point gave Dallas the edge at halftime.

From then on, the game was positively Pittsburgh.

Three minutes into the third quarter, defensive tackle Keith Willis blocked a punt by White from the Dallas five and the Steelers recovered on the 19. Six plays later, Frank Pollard ran one yard for the touchdown that gave Pittsburgh the lead, 20-14.

On the next Dallas possession, White was intercepted by safety Rick Woods on the Dallas 35. Five plays later, Bradshaw threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jim Smith, the wide receiver's second scoring catch off the humid evening. With 6:53 left in the third quarter, Pittsburgh led, 27-14.

Three plays later, linebacker Jack Ham, age 33, intercepted a pass by White on the Dallas 32. Six plays later, Anderson kicked a 26-yard field goal and Pittsburgh led, 30-14. That made 17 straight Pittsburgh points.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Anderson kicked a 43-yard field goal and it was 33-14.

White, who completed 25 of 36 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns, then threw a 45-yard scoring pass to Tony Hill with 10:41 left. Pittsburgh's lead was cut to 33-21.

Then, White threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Billy Joe DuPree with 5:47 left. Pittsburgh's lead was down to 33-28. There was tension.

But the steel on the east sideline didn't melt in the heat.

This is the time when the Steelers of the '70s--Bradshaw and Harris--showed how they have avoided becoming nomadic, while wandering in the generation gap. Five times Harris pounded into the line. Each play, Bradshaw maintained his offensive cool. These two helped take four minutes off the clock. Experience, their play told critics, is the antidote to corrosion.

So, with 1:02 left, Dallas out of time outs and out of luck, Anderson kicked the field goal that ended the Dallas streaks.

"We always think we are contenders," said Bradshaw, who finished 17 of 28 for 246 yards. "We're not as good a football team now as we're going to be."

Dallas receiver Hill said, "The mark of a champion is to come back. We had the momentum, but they had the ball."

Harris gained 66 of his yards in the second half. This was the 40th time in his career that he has run for more than 100 yards.

Landry said, "I don't think we can give up what we gave up and expect to win. The real key to the game was trying to keep Bradshaw in the pocket--he was moving around a lot and you don't win when you let him do that."

It was left for former Steeler Joe Greene, now a network broadcaster, to place things in Pittsburgh perspective. As a postgame locker room visitor, Greene was asked if this team is as talented as those of the '70s.

"They are in the vicinity," he said, smiling. CAPTION: (AP): Steelers' Fred Bohannon fumbled to Dallas on opening kickoff. the field goal that ended the Dallas streaks.

"We always think we are contenders," said Bradshaw, who finished 17 of 28 for 246 yards. "We're not as good a football team now as we're going to be."

Dallas receiver Hill said, "The mark of a champion is to come back. We had the momentum, but they had the ball."

Harris gained 66 of his yards in the second half. This was the 40th time in his career that he has run for more than 100 yards.

Landry said, "I don't think we can give up what we gave up and expect to win. The real key to the game was trying to keep Bradshaw in the pocket--he was moving around a lot and you don't win when you let him do that."

It was left for former Steeler Joe Greene, now a network broadcaster, to place things in Pittsburgh perspective. As a postgame locker room visitor, Greene was asked if this team is as talented as those of the '70s.

"They are in the vicinity," he said, smiling.Picture, Steelers' Fred Bohannon fumbled to Dallas on opening kickoff. AP