Not enough answers for Elliott

A look at Cowboys 35, Steelers 30 via the magic of the DVR:


EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY ELLIOTT:** Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scored three touchdowns against three different defenses on the way to amassing 209 yards from scrimmage.

The constant was blocking:

Second-and-17, Cowboys' 17-yard line, first quarter: The Cowboys went with three wide receivers, a tight end and Elliott against the Steelers' "nickel" package (Sean Davis was the slot cornerback with William Gay temporarily replacing injured cornerback Artie Burns opposite Stephon Tuitt). Elliott caught a screen pass in the right flat at the Dallas 13 and got blocks from right guard Zack Martin (on Davis), center Travis Frederick (on Cockrell) and guard Ronald Leary (who got a piece of free safety Mike Mitchell). Wide receiver Terrance Williams also helped out with a shove of strong safety Robert Golden and then a bump down the field on Gay. Elliott did the rest.

The Steelers almost stopped the play on the back end before it got started, but quarterback Dak Prescott was able to lob his pass just over defensive end Stephon Tuitt's leaping, outstretched reach on its way to Elliott.

First-and-10, Steelers' 14, fourth quarter: The Steelers lined up in their base defense (Burns had returned, William Gay and Arthur Moats were at outside linebacker) against three tight ends (center Joe Looney, who had reported as eligible, was one of them), a wide receiver and Elliott. The Cowboys got a hat on a hat cross the line of scrimmage, including a block by Leary that got linebacker Ryan Shazier on the ground. Elliott cut between Leary's block and Frederick's block on nose tackle Javon Hargrave. Defensive end Cam Heyward fell over Shazier and Leary in pursuit.

First-and-10, Steelers' 32, fourth quarter: Looney was in the game again ("No. 73 is eligible") with two tight ends, a wide receiver and Elliott. The Steelers countered with a specialty defense that featured three linemen, five linebackers and three safeties, the same personnel group that had stuffed Elliott on a third-and-1 from the Dallas' 20 early in the quarter.

This time, a hole emerged between left tackle Tyron Smith, who ended up shoving Shazier to the ground as Shazier sipped, and tight end Gavin Escobar, who was working on outside linebacker Ryan Shazier.

Strong safety Robert Golden was unblocked on the play but unable to track down Elliott, who scored the TD that put Dallas ahead for good with nine seconds remaining.


Take a look at the best photos from the Week 10 matchup against the Cowboys. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers 35-30.

ROLE REVERSAL:** Some snap counts changed dramatically against Dallas.

Wide receiver Sammie Coates played two offensive snaps (three percent) after having played 45 (65 percent) on Nov. 6 at Baltimore.

Wide receiver Landry Jones played 68 offensive snaps against the Cowboys (92 percent) after having played 18 (26 percent) against the Ravens.

Wide receiver Eli Rogers saw his offensive snaps increase from 46 (67 percent) against the Ravens to 64 (86 percent) against the Cowboys.

Golden got the start at strong safety but played 29 defensive snaps (45 percent) to Davis' 43 (66 percent). The two had also shared strong safety against Baltimore, where Golden played 43 defensive snaps (61 percent) and Davis 27 (39 percent).

ANOTHER NEAR MISS: The Steelers rushed more than four one time on what turned out to be the Cowboys' game-winning drive and just missed producing the sack that might have changed the outcome.

On first-and-10 from the Dallas 48 with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Shazier came in clean from the left side of the defensive formation around right tackle Doug Free, but Prescott saw Shazier coming and stepped up and avoided Shazier. In doing so Prescott might have stepped up into Mitchell, but he had been chipped by tight end Jason Witten as Witten worked into his route. That might have been just enough to keep Mitchell, who had an otherwise clear path to the pocket, from getting to Prescott on time.

Witten wound up catching a pass for a gain of 5, a 15-yard face-mask penalty was tacked on, and Elliott scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play.

GREEN LIGHT: Three of the 12 snaps tight end Ladarius Green played in his debut with the Steelers occurred on the five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that gave the Steelers a 30-29 lead with 42 seconds left in regulation. Green caught three passes for 30 yards on four targets, including a 10-yard gain on the TD march late in the fourth quarter.

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