Steelers rise started after Dallas defeat

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are riding a nine-game winning streak into Sunday's AFC Championship. They are arguably the hottest team remaining in the National Football League's version of the final four.

But their rise to the doorstep of the Super Bowl didn't seem likely back on Nov. 13 at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh suffered a heartbreaking 35-30 loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys at home and fell to 4-5.

It's what happened after the bitter loss that has defined this season.

"We all just kind of said we're going to be ok, let's just follow the lead of the veterans," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said this week.

"We haven't panicked and that's been our saying over the last few weeks when things get tough."

A tenth straight win Sunday over the Patriots will mean an opportunity at a seventh Super Bowl championship. Kickoff is 6:40 at Gillette Stadium.

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