Terrible Towels can double as handkerchiefs to wipe away Steelers fans’ tears as Dallas stole a 27-24 overtime victory, the first in the series history.
It was also the first time since 11/14/10 that the Steelers defense had given up 300 yards passing (to Tom Brady, naturally).
It was the first time in Romo’s career he had won three straight December contests.
Of course, the credit for the win is a team effort. But a large percentage of the credit belongs to the traduced Cowboys defense. In the fourth quarter, with 1:34 left to separate these desperate 7-6 teams, with the ball at their own 46, Sean Lissemore sacked Ben Roethlisberger for 8 yards. Then, Anthony Spencer sacked Roethlisberger again to force a Pittsburgh punt.
Though Dwayne Harris took the return to the Steelers 49 yard line, the Cowboys offense went 3-and-out and gave the ball back to Pittsburgh.
Same old Cowboys.
The Steelers got the ball back with only 25 seconds at their own 20, so they took a knee and went to overtime where Pittsburgh won the toss and elected to receive.
Four years ago, with 1:51 left in the tied contest, Romo threw a picksix to Deshea Townsend to give the Steelers an insurmountable 20-13 lead on that freezing December night in Pittsburgh. In the comfy confines of Cowboys Stadium, with neuron-deficient Steelers fans waving their Terrible Towels, Ben Roethlisberger threw a pick to Brandon Carr in overtime that the $50 million-dollar cornerback returned to the Pittsburgh 1. Two plays later, Dan Bailey tied Rafael Septien with 7 game-winning field goals, the most in franchise history.
Romo went 30/42 for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns and a 111.3 passer rating. He targeted Miles Austin 7 times for 79 yards, but it was Dez Bryant and Jason Witten who had the touchdown catches. Rookie tight end from Oklahoma James Hanna even got in on the action with 2 catches for 45 yards.
Demarco Murray rushed 14 times for 81 yards and a touchdown, thus giving the Cowboys offense the semblance of balance necessary to buy Romo time, for he was only sacked once the entire game by Lawrence Timmons.
Ben Roethlisberger went 24/40 for 339 yards, 2 touchdowns, and the costly interception. He targeted Mike Wallace 4 times for 95 yards, but Heath Miller did the most damage with 7 catches for 92 yards, including a 30-yard dash down the sideline that looked like a dump truck with no brakes. Antonio Brown had 8 catches for 76 yards. The Steelers run game was held in check, as Jonathan Dwyer only had 9 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown.
This huge December win knots the Cowboys with the Redskins and Giants at 8-6 with two games left to play. The Redskins currently sit atop the NFC East, while the Giants are below Dallas due to tiebreakers. In the wild card hunt, the Vikings’ 36-22 win over St. Louis puts them in the final playoff spot at 8-6 and having a tiebreaker over Dallas.
To get into the playoffs, the Cowboys obviously need to win out. That gives them the NFC East crown and a home playoff game. But the Vikings need to drop two more games and the Giants need to drop just one more. It is very possible that 9-7 could win the Cowboys a playoff berth, but why settle when you could get the “hats”?
Questioning this team’s talent is understandable, but questioning this team’s heart is lunacy. With 12 players on injured reserve, 5 of those being starters, Jason Garrett’s Cowboys are still in the playoff hunt. Stay tuned next week to see if Santa gives the Cowboys another victory or coal in their stocking as the New Orleans Saints, fresh off of a 41-0 victory, march into Arlington.