"I knew Charles was going to have a day like this," Newton said. "He's coming off that bad back he had last season, but it gets to his mind when people start saying they don't know how much longer he can go on. You can't keep him down."
"Usually your rush is real structured," Dallas defensive coordinator Butch Davis said. "But we turned three linemen loose to chase O'Donnell and had the fourth stay at home, window wiping. We went to that when they started throwing early, which kind of shocked me. I'd prepared our guys for an all-out assault running the ball, you know, bloody our nose."
On defense the Steelers were hanging in, foiling Dallas on third down with their blitzes, occasionally getting burned by Novacek underneath, but holding the Cowboys to field goals on their first two drives. Then, on Dallas's third possession, Smith went to work.
When the Cowboys feel an opponent's defense is a bit soft, they run the ball right away. When they respect the opposition, they usually start out by throwing timed passes, to take that little bit of zip out of the rushers' legs. Then they come back and pound them with Smith. Against the Steelers, Smith didn't get his big pop, his 46-yarder, until seven minutes were left in the first half. The run led to Johnston's diving touchdown catch. "You can't put a price on a fullback who can make a play like that," Aikman said.
A quick three-and-out series for the Steelers gave Dallas one more shot before the half, and it produced three more points. Four possessions, four scores. The Steeler defense was wearing down. The offense, with O'Donnell running for his life and either misfiring on the go or taking the sack, was in the minus column in passing yardage. Pittsburgh's new receivers, heralded rookie Charles Johnson and second-year man Andre Hastings, weren't experienced enough to come back to the quarterback and bail him out.
By the end of the third period O'Donnell had been sacked seven times, and his passing yardage was minus one. The Steelers' total yardage was 48. The fourth quarter produced Pittsburgh's only touchdown of the day, which narrowed the score to 19-9. It was time for the two-point conversion.
At the line of scrimmage the Steelers presented Dallas with an exotic formation—a thing that used to be called the middle huddle—which caused the Cowboys to burn a timeout while they organized strategy. Pittsburgh sent five players to one side of the field, four of them wearing 80-something on their backs, and six to the other, all wearing linemen's numbers. Try to figure out who the eligible receivers are.
"Yeah, it was wild," Cowboy cornerback Kevin Smith said. "I just ran over from my spot and latched on to a guy I thought might be a receiver." After O'Donnell's pass fell incomplete, Dallas drove for the touchdown that put the game away.
So what do the 1994 Cowboys look like, compared with last year's champions?
"I think [new coordinator] Ernie Zampese might be a little bolder with our offense," said Aikman, whose 21-for-32, 245-yard day was typical.