STEELERS FALL IN OVERTIME
On the opening drive in overtime, Brandon Carr intercepted a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to set up Dan Bailey’s game winning 21-yard field goal, and the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) 27-24 on Sunday. The tough loss for Pittsburgh now has the team fighting for their playoff lives in their final two games of the season at home against Cincinnati (8-6) in week 16 and Cleveland (5-9) in week 17. Despite losing four of five games, the Steelers can still control their own destiny for the final wildcard spot with wins vs the Bengals and Browns, as long as their isn’t a three way tie as Pittsburgh’s subpar conference record could still come back to haunt them under a potential three way tie scenario.
MENTAL MISTAKES, MISSED OPPORTUNITIES PLAGUE STEELERS IN LOSS
As the Steelers continue to look so similar to that 2009 team that missed out on the final wildcard spot with a 9-7 record due to constant “missed opportunities”, mental mistakes and turnovers plagued the Steelers from leaving BIG D with a victory as this continues to be a season of missed opportunities just like 2009.
The Steelers saw their best wide receiver and playmaker Antonio Brown put together the worst quarter of his Steelers career. With momentum swinging their way, Pittsburgh goes on a 7 play, 78 yard scoring drive to take a 24-17 lead with 10:03 left in the fourth quarter and then the defense forces Dallas to punt five plays in after a failed 3rd and 19 at their own 24, setting up a golden opportunity for Pittsburgh to put the game away, but Brown fumbles on the ensuing punt return at Pittsburgh’s 38 yard line and Dallas takes over at Pittsburgh’s 44 yard line. Dallas then turns Brown’s costly fumble into points as the Cowboys tie the game on a DeMarco Murray’s three yard touchdown run with 6:55 left in the quarter.
Pittsburgh is unable to get into field goal position on their next drive and elect to punt from the Cowboys 39 yard line, but the Steelers defense forces a Cowboys three and out with around two minutes left in the quarter, setting up another opportunity for Pittsburgh to have good field position to put together a game winning drive. With Dallas punting from their 21 yard line, Brown though who appeared rattled after his fumble, was 60 yards back to field the punt and the punt only went 42 yards and due to Brown being so far back, the ball bounces 17 yards all the way to Pittsburgh’s 20 yard line.
The Steelers unable to take advantage of a DeMarcus Ware roughing the passer penalty that put the Steelers at their own 46 yard line with over a minute left, Roethlisberger would be sacked on consecutive plays, setting up a 3rd and 30 at the Steelers 26 yard line. Looking to play the field position game on a 3rd and 30, Roethlisberger completes a short pass right to Brown and Brown runs out of bounds, pretty much saving the Cowboys a timeout.
Brown’s miscue gave the Cowboys 3 timeouts with 47 seconds remaining to win the game in regulation but Dallas wasn’t able to take advantage of a 39 yard punt return that set up a 1st and 10 at Pittsburgh’s 49 yard line.
Pittsburgh’s defense would force overtime but short overtimes have been the norm for Pittsburgh as Brandon Carr would pick off Roethlisberger two plays into OT and while it probably wouldn’t have mattered in the end, Mike Wallace made a blunder by not putting a hand on Carr at the 36 yard line as Wallace gave up for a few seconds on the play following the INT, and Carr returned the ball to the one yard line.
Again the Steelers continue to show they are a capable playoff team but missed opportunities to finish games is why they are a .500 team.