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How the Steelers came back to beat the Cowboys in Week 9

A cautionary tale about giving a talented team too many opportunities.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 8-0 and the leagues only undefeated team. Like the Bengals they have played in some close games. In fact, five of their wins (against the Broncos, Texans, Titans, Ravens, and Cowboys) were one-score games.

No one expected the Dallas Cowboys to be the team to put this winning streak to an end, but early in last week’s game it looked like they had a good chance.

Here is a look at why the Cowboys were in that position and how they blew it.

What went Right

Things went well for the Cowboys early on and a big part of that was winning in the trenches. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert had time to effectively run their pass game, and they were able to run the ball effectively as well.

Their defense played very well early on. They were able to pressure Ben Roethlisberger regularly and the Steelers offense was not able to get clicking.

The Cowboys held the Steelers without a score on their first four possessions. This included a three-and-out and a fourth-and-one stop. In many instances there were receivers open down field for the Steelers, but they weren’t able to connect.

Where it went Wrong

With a 10-0 lead in the second quarter the Cowboys called a throwback punt return that, despite a penalty, resulted in excellent field position.

This was a great call by the Cowboys. The were already up, but they wanted to keep their foot on the gas and continue scoring. Unfortunately the Cowboys came up short on the drive and were forced to kick a field goal after a thee-and-out.

Although the Cowboys were able to move the ball, they couldn’t finish drives. They were forced to settle for a field goal four times. What’s worse was they were 0-2 in the red zone including a fourth-quarter interception as they were trying to add to a four-point lead.

The defensive struggled came in a form that is all-too-familiar to Bengals fans.

After shutting the Steelers out early on, the Cowboys gave up two scores late in the first half. They put together a touchdown drive (and missed the extra point), then a Cowboys’ fumble gave them the ball back with another great chance to score. Mason Rudolph was in at quarterback for the drive and they were forced to kick the field goal.

That’s nine points for the Steelers in the final 70 seconds of the first half.

Leading 13-0 after nearly 29 minutes of play, the Cowboys’ lead was cut to four just before halftime.

The Steelers still needed to comeback in the fourth quarter and this effort was aided by penalties at very opportune times. A Roethlisberger fumble should have resulted in a first down for the Cowboys just outside the red zone with an opportunity to go up two scores. Instead, an illegal contact penalty gave the Steelers a first down and unnecessary roughness call on the next play put them in field goal range.

That drive got the Cowboys within a point, but they also had some help on their go-ahead drive. After throwing an incompletion on third-and-10, a roughing the passer gave the Steelers the needed first down.

Conclusion

The Cowboys had a chance to win this game, but they blew it.

If the Bengals are able to get a lead in this week’s game they cannot give the Steelers opportunities to get back in the game. They must continue to put up points, avoid penalties, and protect the ball.