This week's escapade in the Delorean isn't a particularly long trip as we set the time circuits to a time when everybody had vampire fever going to see Twilight at their local cinemaplex, Beyoncé's Single Ladies was pressuring every boyfriend to "put a ring on it" and Bernie Madoff was half-a-day away from being arrested for his infamous Ponzi scheme. Let's go back to December 7, 2008.
With 8-4 Dallas traveling to Heinz Field to renew the epic and storied rivalry of the 70s and 90s with the 9-3 Pittsburgh Steelers, it was a crucial game for both teams who were competing for their respective division crowns.
With what would become a turnover fest of seven between the two clubs, Dallas' Tony Romo started the carnage of ineptitude by getting picked-off by Troy Polamalu. However, the Steelers couldn't convert when Jeff Reed's 45-yarder sailed wide right. Late in the first, the Steelers started with great field position at their own 49, but Heath Miller caught a pass from Ben Roethlisberger for a gain of eight and promptly fumbled. Bradie James recovered to thwart the threat.
In the second quarter, the Cowboys were driving again, but turned the ball over on downs when a Romo offering to Terrell Owens fell incomplete. The missed opportunities continued when James Harrison sacked Romo on 3rd and 8 at the Steeler 42. Travis Kirschke recovered for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh returned the favor when Rothlisberger ran for a first down on 3rd and 1 at the Dallas 36, but fumbled the ball away to none other than Bradie James. After a few more punts, Romo threw an interception deep in his own territory to Ike Taylor. The Steelers only got three points out of the deal, courtesy of a 24-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Dallas countered with a Nick Folk FG to make the score 3-3 at the half.
Dallas got it together after the half. Between throws by Romo and the legs of Tashard Choice, the "Boys" capitalized when TO pulled in a Romo pass from 12-yards out. It was 10-3 in favor of the hated visitors.
After another Steeler punt, Dallas was driving again. But with a 3rd and goal at the Steeler seven, James Farrior nailed Romo for a loss of eight on a sack. Nick Folk nailed a 33-yarder to extend the Dallas lead. It was looking quite grim as the game was starting to slip away.
Trying to get back into the game, the Steelers went on a 12-play and 79-yard drive that extended into the fourth quarter. But it ended when Gary Russell failed to get in from the one on fourth down. But all was not lost. Dallas couldn't convert and Santonio Holmes returned the Dallas punt 35-yards to the Dallas 25. But the Steelers could only muster a 41-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. 13-6 Dallas.
The team from Texas had a chance to put their foot on the a throat of Mike a Tomlin's club, but they went three-and-out. The Steelers, behind three catches and 51 yards from Nate Washington and a 4th and 1 conversion from Ben, got down to the Dallas 6 right before the 2MW. With 2:10 left, No. 7 hit Heath Miller on a six-yard toss to tie it at 13. Miller drug Cowboys defender Ken Hamlin on his back into the end zone. Heinz Field was rocking.
It nearly exploded two plays later when Deshea Townsend took a Romo pass intended for Jason Witten all the way to the house and a 20-13 lead with 1:51 left. After the kickoff, Romo threw four straight incompletions and the Steelers ran out the clock for a thrilling comeback victory.
The Steelers went on to beat Baltimore in a thrilling game on the road to clinch the division and eventually win their sixth Super Bowl in February. This one was the game that seemed to put the Steelers in the conversation as a team of destiny.
I was hosting a group of friends in my first season as what we call Maryland Steeler Central. I was so enthralled in the game, I didn't realize that my then 18-month-old son was destroying my Curb Your Enthusiasm DVD collection that was on the bottom row. I got yelled at by the missus for not properly supervising my son. But a talking to from my wife and the loss of great Larry David shenanigans couldn't come close to curbing my enthusiasm after such a tremendous game.