Dallas' winning streaks at home disappeared like hot air through the hole in the Texas Stadium roof Monday night.
Consequently, two words hung heavy alongside the Star of Texas: overcoming and overconfidence.
Naturally, since Pittsburgh had defeated the Cowboys, 36-28, before a sellout crowd of 63,431 and the ABC crew, it was the Steelers who had overcome and the Cowboys who had overconfidence.
The Steelers had overcome more than a 14-13 halftime deficit by outscoring Dallas, 17-0, in the third quarter. They had overcome two nonplayoff years and the voice of doomsayers who insisted that history should sing sweet lullabies as Pittsburgh rests in aged peace.
"Who said we're old? I didn't," said Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll.
Noll's three key veterans on offense performed with the kind of efficiency that leads a team to four Super Bowls in six years: Terry Bradshaw completed 17 of 28 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns (with no interceptions), Franco Harris ran for 103 yards and John Stallworth caught seven passes for 137 yards and one touchdown.
"We were in shape and never got tired," said Stallworth. "We play physically on offense, the Cowboys play more finesse. We feel when the two face each other, the physical will come out on top."
And Dallas? Before Monday night, you had the feeling that 49er Dwight Clark's fingertips would not detour these Cowboys of the computer away from the Super Bowl a second straight time.
"We've been rated high all summer," said Tom Landry, "maybe too high."
"I wonder if maybe all that preseason talk about . . . how good we are and all those things penetrated everybody's subconscious," said Dallas linebacker Bob Breunig.
"Maybe we were overconfident," said Dallas safety Michael Downs.
"I don't think anybody expected us to go 16-0," said tight end Doug Cosbie.
Bradshaw and Dallas' Danny White matched first-half touchdown passes. But Pittsburgh, which missed an extra point, trailed, 14-13, at the half.
At this point, the Cowboys' streak of 17 straight victories in home openers and 18 straight Texas Stadium victories (they hadn't lost at home since the Rams beat them in the 1979 playoffs) seemed primed for extension.
Enter third quarter. Exit Dallas.
First, several minutes into the quarter, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Keith Willis blocked White's punt from the Dallas five and Pittsburgh recovered on the 19. Six plays later, Frank Pollard ran one yard for a touchdown and Pittsburgh led, 20-14, with 10:11 left in the third.
Then, White, who completed 25 of 36 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns in the game, threw two interceptions on consecutive drives.
After the first interception at the Dallas 35, by safety Rick Woods, Bradshaw threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jim Smith and the Steelers led, 27-14, with 6:53 left in the third.
After linebacker Jack Ham made the second interception at the Dallas 32, Pittsburgh's Gary Anderson, a rookie from Syracuse, kicked a 26-yard field goal and, with 4:13 left in the quarter, the Steelers led, 30-14.
Anderson added a 43-yarder early in the fourth quarter to make it 33-14. Later, after White threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Tony Hill with 10:41 left to play (33-21) and a five-yard touchdown pass to Billy Joe Dupree with 5:47 left (33-28), the Steelers constructed a time-consuming, game-clinching drive that ended with Anderson's 40-yard field goal with 1:02 left.