PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - Who said they scored too fast?
Ezekiel Elliott ran untouched up the middle of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for a 32-yard touchdown, to give the Dallas Cowboys their eighth straight victory in a 35-30 win at Heinz Field.
"It parted like the Red Sea," Elliott said of his game-winning touchdown run. "All I had to do was run."
It was the third touchdown scored in the final 1:55 of the fourth quarter, as the lead see-sawed back and forth between teams.
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Pittsburgh scored on a Ben Roethlisberger fake-spike throw to the back corner of the end zone for Antonio Brown, to give the Steelers a 30-29 lead with 42 seconds remaining.
That touchdown immediately followed Elliott’s first touchdown run, with 1:55 to play, to give Dallas a 29-24 lead.
There were seven total lead changes in the game.
"I've played a lot of games in my career, but this is up there," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said.
Elliott also had an 83-yard receiving score, on a day in which he tallied 209 total yards (114 rushing) and scored three times.
Dez Bryant, who learned shortly after the team arrived in Pittsburgh that his father had passed away, caught six passes for 116 yards and a 50-yard third quarter score.
The Cowboys fell behind 12-3 early, thanks to a Prescott fumble and a pair of Ben Roethlisberger touchdown passes. Then Elliott's 83-yard touchdown catch on a beautifully executed screen pass got the Cowboys back in the football game.
Prescott's off-balance beauty to Dez Bryant on a 50-yard touchdown hookup in the third quarter (a "nice dime" as Tony Romo mouthed on the sideline) gave the Cowboys a 23-18 lead with 1:35 to play in the 3rd quarter, setting up the wild final frame.
Pittsburgh drove 46 yards on six plays on their second drive of the fourth quarter, to take the lead back, 24-23. Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick was not on the field for that drive, as he'd suffered a head injury earlier in the game. The Steelers noticed, and picked on backup Leon McFadden the whole drive. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown three times for 34 yards on the six play drive, before LeVeon Bell capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Then it was the Cowboys turn. Taking possession with 7:56 to play, the Cowboys drove 75 yards in 10 plays, to take the lead back. Dallas chewed up 5:56 of clock, grinding the ball down the field with four Elliott carries, and six short Prescott passes to Lucky Whitehead, Elliott, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, Beasley, and Witten again. The final Elliott carry was the most fruitful -- a 14-yard scamper off right tackle, to give Dallas a 29-24 lead with 1:55 left.
Some would argue Pittsburgh allowed them to score. They probably did. And it almost worked.
The Steelers drove right back down the field, covering 75 yards on 5 plays -- all passes -- in just 1:13. Roetlisberger's pass to Le'Veon Bell got Pittsburgh into Dallas territory, covering 23 yards. After a beautiful throw up the seam to Jesse James, to get the ball to the Dallas 15, Roethlisberger faked a spike to kill the clock, and lofted a perfect pass into the outstretched arms of Brown, to give the Steelers a 30-29 lead with 42 seconds left.
"I ain't going to lie. He got us," Cowboys defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence said of Roethlisberger's fake spike. "He got us good. But, I mean, it was part of our win."
After another failed two-point conversion try (Pittsburgh failed on four during the game), Dallas got the ball back with 42 seconds left, needing to drive into field goal range, starting from their own 25.
And Dak Prescott shined.
Prescott hit Beasley for 10 yards and a Cowboys first down to the 35. After a timeout, Prescott hit Witten for a 13 yard hookup, and another Cowboys first down. And if things weren't going well enough for Prescott and the Cowboys -- the Steelers committed a needless facemask penalty on Witten, giving Dallas a free 15 yards.
So, with the ball at the Pittsburgh 32, and only 23 seconds left, the Cowboys lined up to run the football, and eat up the last bit of clock remaining before kicking a game winning field goal.
Elliott decided that wouldn't be necessary.
32 yards. Untouched. Ballgame.
The Cowboys offensive line created a sieve, and Elliott burst through it. The Steelers run blitz failed, and Elliott needn't do anything but run straight forward. He did, and he scored, and the Cowboys won.
Next up: Cowboys host the Ravens, and look to finish a 4-0 sweep of the AFC North.
- After the game, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that Tony Romo will be active against Baltimore, and will be the backup quarterback. "We're going to let this decision in this case make itself. Dak's got a hot hand and we're going to go with it."
Asked whether or not Romo is on board with that concept, Jerry had this to say -- "Absolutely. He's totally committed to doing the very best thing to win the game."
- The win gave the Cowboys their eighth straight win to tie the 1977 team’s streak for the longest regular season winning streak during a single season in team history.
- By producing 422 total net yards in today’s contest, it marked the team’s seventh consecutive game with 400-plus yards in a game to extend its current franchise record streak.
- With Dak Prescott passing for 319 yards, Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 114 yards and Dez Bryant hauling in 116 receiving yards, it marked the first time that Dallas has produced a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver since against Green Bay (12/15/13) when Tony Romo passed for 358 yards, DeMarco Murray rushed for 134 yards and Bryant had 153 receiving yards.
- Elliott’s touchdown reception was the longest scoring catch by a Cowboys running back since Herschel Walker had an 84-yard score against Philadelphia (12/14/86) and the fourth-longest overall by a Dallas running back (Tony Dorsett, 91 yards, 1978)
- Elliott is the first rookie running back in the league to boast a 60-plus yard touchdown run and an 80-plus yard touchdown catch in a single season since Gale Sayers in 1965
- With Elliott surpassing 1,000 rushing yards on the season, combined with Prescott passing for 2,000 yards, the duo became only the second rookie quarterback and rookie running back teammates in NFL history with at least 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season, joining Robert Griffin III (3,200 passing yards) and Alfred Morris (1,613 rushing yards) who did so with Washington in 2012
- With the win, Prescott improved to 8-1, the best record to start a career by a Cowboys rookie quarterback, and joined Johnny Lujack (1948 Chicago Bears) as the second rookie to start a career winning eight of his first nine starts.
- Witten’s six receptions also gave him 44 on the season for his 13th straight season of 40 catches-or-more to become only the sixth player – second tight end – to reach that milestone
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