COWBOYS 27, STEELERS 24, OT
Steelers’ record: 7-7
One year ago: 10-4
Series record (including playoffs): Cowboys lead, 16-15
Three of their previous meetings had determined a Super Bowl champion, but this 31st game between these teams was more about which of them was going to get themselves into the postseason to compete to be this year’s version. Tiebreakers kept this from being do-or-die for the Steelers, but in the wake of the loss to San Diego, quality of performance was an issue. They had to start playing better.
Mike Tomlin always talks about finishing the first half on a positive note, and
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Cowboys announced that there were 95,595 tickets distributed to the game against the Steelers.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT II
The touchdown pass to Heath Miller was his eighth of the season, which set a new single-season career-high for him.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Steelers dodged a couple of bullets early, first when Anthony Spencer dropped a potential interception on a ball deflected into the air by CB Brandon Carr on an attempt at a quick slant to Antonio Brown, and then on the next play when a replay review changed the call from a fumble by
Situational football. It was third-and-8 at the Steelers 32-yard line, and the play turned into the difference between continuing to drive for a touchdown and having to settle for a field goal attempt. Under pressure from
Another situational win for the Steelers defense on the second Dallas series. On second-and-goal from the Pittsburgh 7-yard line,
Vintage Ben being Ben. On the first half possession that tied the game 10-10, Ben Roethlisberger made two plays that went a long way toward erasing an otherwise lackluster first half. On the first of the two critical plays, he avoided LB Alex Bright, who came free on a blitz, to complete an 18-yard pass to Antonio Brown that put the ball at the Dallas 30-yard line. Then two plays later, Roethlisberger avoided DT Jason Hatcher and then NT Sean Lissemore during a sequence in which he also re-loaded three different times before getting the ball to Heath Miller down the right sideline for a 30-yard catch-and-run.
The defense recorded its first three-and-out on the opening possession of the second half.
Answering a touchdown with a touchdown is the hallmark of a good offense. And the Steelers did it quickly, too. It took just three plays for the Steelers to tie the game, 17-17, and one of the plays was a sack by DT Marcus Spears for a 2-yard loss. Ben Roethlisberger erased that with a 60-yard completion to
Short-yardage was a problem for the Dallas offense in the second half. On a third-and-short near midfield late in the third quarter, the Cowboys went to their big-boy personnel group, but Tony Romo faked the handoff to DeMarco Murray and tried to get out around the left side, but James Harrison was there to wrap up Romo for a loss and force a punt.
WHAT WENT WRONG
An already thin cornerback position got even thinner, and quickly, when
The Steelers defense spent most of the game’s first 19 minutes on the field, and the Cowboys converted their third possession into the touchdown that gave them a 10-0 lead. The touchdown came off play-action that brought FS
Too easy. With Tony Romo seemingly locked in to any receiver being covered by CB
Just when the Steelers seemed to be taking control of the game, a turnover gave the Cowboys new life with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Holding a 24-17 lead, the Steelers defense got off the field, and Antonio Brown was returning Brian Moorman’s punt out to midfield when disaster struck. LB Victor Butler stripped the ball and TE John Phillips recovered for the Cowboys.
Ben Roethlisberger made a lot of plays for the Steelers, and they don’t even get to overtime without his contributions, but the interception by Brandon Carr was a killer.
The seventh combo a charm?
The seventh different offensive line combination the Steelers used this season was on display in Dallas, and it had two rookies on the right side, which sort of was the plan all along.
The rest of the configuration in Dallas included LT
It was the first substantial playing time DeCastro has seen this season, after suffering a knee injury during the preseason.
“That is what I have been working the past couple of months for,” said DeCastro. “I have been injured, doing rehab, and you set a goal like this to get back out there and play.”
DeCastro wore a brace on his knee, but said he felt confident in it.
“It’s one of those things where I was getting comfortable every week,” said DeCastro. “Every week has gotten a lot better, which is positive. It’s gotten better every week so it should keep going upwards.”