Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 24: An Unexpected Opportunity

Brandon Carr's overtime interception set up Dan Bailey's game-winning field goal.

Brandon Carr’s overtime interception set up Dan Bailey’s game-winning field goal.

The Dallas Cowboys may have quietly ended their traditional December slump.

This is a team that has not swept its December games since 1993. Recent failures will live in infamy.

The 2012 Cowboys, though, have managed to win three straight in December. With today’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas is now tied with Washington and New York atop the NFC East.

This simply was not the kind of game the Cowboys usually win, especially late in the year.

With three minutes remaining, the Cowboys forced the Steelers to punt. Dallas got the ball at its own 12 but could not pick up the first down. Dwayne Harris caught a third-down pass short of the first down, forcing a Dallas punt.

Brian Moorman‘s kick took a nice roll for Dallas and moved the Steelers back to their own 20. The Dallas defense had done a good job containing Pittsburgh up to that point, but a penalty on DeMarcus Ware on second down moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 46.

This would be the spot in previous years where Dallas would give up a long pass that would put the Steelers in field-goal range.

Instead, these 2012 Cowboys recorded back-to-back sacks by Sean Lissemore and Anthony Spencer.

The Steelers punted, and Harris managed a huge return to the Steelers 49. However, the Cowboys missed the opportunity and ended up having to punt. When Pittsburgh sat on the ball, the teams headed to overtime.

During the offseason, the Cowboys spent $50 million on a cornerback named Brandon Carr. He has been fine but hardly the shutdown corner fans expected.

On the second play of overtime, Carr became the hero. He stepped in front of a Ben¬†Roethlisberger pass intended for Mike Wallace and returned the ball all the way to the Pittsburgh 1. Dan Bailey’s short field goal gave the Cowboys the win and an 8-6 record.

The game marked just the second time this season that the Cowboys did not trail in the first half. Dallas led 10-0 with 11 minutes left in the first half thanks to a Dan Bailey field goal followed by a touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Jason Witten.

The Steelers, though, were able to tie the game. With 47 seconds left in the half, Roethlisberger dropped back and avoided the Dallas rush for nine seconds before finding Heath Miller along the sideline. Miller scored to tie the game at 10.

The Cowboys took a 17-10 lead in the third quarter when Romo found Dez Bryant on a 24-yard touchdown. However, the Steelers scored the next two touchdowns, and with 10 minutes left in the game, forced a Dallas punt when Pittsburgh still led 24-17.

Nevertheless, Antonio Brown fumbled the punt, and John Phillips recovered. The Cowboys then drove 44 yards, and DeMarco Murray capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown to tie the score at 24.

Dallas held the ball for more than 34 minutes and outgained Pittsburgh 415 yards to 388. The Cowboys also won the turnover battle thanks to Carr’s interception in overtime.

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Article by Matt Cordon

Blogging impatiently about the Cowboys since 2006. Being a fan since 1977 hasn't required quite as much patience.

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