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Cowboys news: Garrett Gilbert impresses in debut; team drops nail-biter in Pittsburgh

We were just seconds away from the unimaginable Sunday: the Dallas Cowboys taking down an undefeated Pittsburgh squad at home.

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

Steelers 24, Cowboys 19: 10 ‘Whitty’ ‘Stop The Count’ Observations - Richie Witt, Sports Illustrated

Gilbert was just the spark plug this team needed.

Dallas beat the 9-0 Colts in 2006 and the 13-0 Saints in 2009. And they … almost.

CeeDee Lamb put McCarthy’s post-game message into his own words: “We definitely fought. We gave it all we got. But at the end of the day, it’s about winning.’’

Instead, the stars will now start aligning, maybe, for the 2021 NFL Draft.

3. In 48 offensive drives since Dak Prescott’s injury the Cowboys have scored two touchdowns.

Two.

Kudos to Garrett Gilbert for getting involved in a positive way.

Who is Garrett Gilbert? Cowboys’ Week 9 starting QB dominated the AAF before NFL - Jordan Heck, Sporting News

More on Mr. Gilbert.

Had the Alliance of American Football finished its season, Gilbert likely would have been named league MVP. He led the league in passing yards (535 yards more than the second-leading passer) by averaging 269 yards per game. He also led the league in passer rating with his impressive 13-3 TD-INT ratio.

Gilbert shined under coach Steve Spurrier in Orlando, and was a big reason why the team finished with a league-best 7–1 record.

The interesting thing about Gilbert’s stint in the AAF is the fact he turned down an NFL futures contract to play in the developmental league. Meaning he had a potential NFL job waiting for him, but he bet on himself and started in an up-and-coming league instead.

5 thoughts from Cowboys-Steelers: Dallas comes up short vs. Pittsburgh, but its defense has turned a corner - Calvin Watkins, DMN

The Cowboys defense played a heck of a game, but came up short in the end. And the special teams kicked in,

Cowboys’ defense has really turned the corner

The Cowboys almost knocked Ben Roethlisberger out of the game (hobbled him at least) and held a rushing attack that averages 118 yards per game to just 46. Outside of some questionable penalties, including a fourth-quarter personal foul on Jaylon Smith, the defense held its own. But on the go-ahead scoring drive, the Cowboys had to use reserve corner Saivion Smith, who missed a tackle on Diontae Johnson and watched tight end Eric Ebron jump over him for the touchdown. The Cowboys have lots to build on going into the bye week. But the defense, with a chance to secure the game, failed to do so when it counted.

Special teams, special teams and more special teams

The Steelers’ special teams unit missed two point-after attempts and allowed a 64-yard kick return by Rico Dowdle. The Cowboys picked up 70-plus yards on a lateral from a punt return and, of course, kicker Greg Zuerlein made four field goals. The Cowboys’ special teams unit, once a joke with all of their problems, has ascended the past few weeks.

Cowboys show fight, but mistakes crush them in loss to Steelers - Todd Archer, ESPn

Mistakes down the stretch kept the Cowboys from clinching the upset.

Key defensive penalties late in the fourth quarter on Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, even if dubious in Smith’s case, led to Steelers points, including Eric Ebron’s go-ahead touchdown with 2:14 to play.

Ebron leaped over Saivion Smith at the 2 for the score, and Smith was playing only because the Cowboys’ best cornerback, Trevon Diggs, was out with a foot injury. Jaylon Smith’s controversial illegal contact penalty wiped out a sack/fumble caused by Tyrone Crawford and recovered by Aldon Smith. Vander Esch was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the next play to put Pittsburgh in field goal position.

Jaylon Smith’s roughing-the-passer penalty wiped out what would have been a fourth-and-10 try for the Steelers on their next drive. Four plays later Ebron was in the end zone.

Steelers escape Cowboys in dramatic fashion to extend unbeaten record - Jorie Epstein, USA Today

The reasoning behind the loss.

2. Turnovers again proved critical

The Cowboys have now committed a turnover in eight straight games. On Sunday, Steelers All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick made Dallas pay for that trend. Fitzpatrick recovered a CeeDee Lamb fumble in the second quarter when the ball popped suddenly from the Cowboys rookie’s hands straight into the Pittsburgh star’s waiting hands.

Fitzpatrick was ready again in the fourth quarter, when the Steelers pass rush closed in on Gilbert at Pittsburgh’s 10-yard line, Gilbert chucking a ball to the middle of the end zone, Fitzpatrick again waiting. The Steelers marched 75 yards in 11 plays for a field goal to bring the game within 1 point. The Cowboys wouldn’t score again, the Steelers earning a touchdown that would ultimately seal the game. McCarthy’s team enters the bye with 20 turnovers.

What went right, wrong vs. Cowboys - Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

Snippets from the dissenting opinion:

5:50 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers got the ball back with 52 seconds left when Cam Sutton forced a CeeDee Lamb fumble after a reception that Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered at the Cowboys 38-yard line. But with Ben Roethlisberger already in the locker room having his knee examined to get a jump on the 12-minute halftime, Mason Rudolph came in cold to play quarterback.

The Steelers didn’t make much headway on offense, and then Chris Boswell came on to attempt a 54-yard field goal with two seconds left. The kick was wide left, but because Cam Heyward was flagged for a false start that play was dead before the snap, and Boswell got another chance from 59 yards out. He drilled that one right down the middle for a franchise record 59-yard field goal that made it 13-9 at halftime.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger downplays knee injury: ‘I’ll be fine’ - Jelani Scott, NFL.com

Roethlisberger barely avoided the ultimate scare of scares.

The replay suggested a potentially concerning outcome for the 38-year-old but, after emerging from the tunnel and finishing out the Steelers’ eventual 24-19 victory over the Cowboys, Roethlisberger assured everyone after the game that all is well.

“No, I’ll be fine. Thank you for asking,” Roethlisberger said when asked if there’s any reason to be concerned about the knee moving forward.

The injury came during the Steelers’ last series of the first half. As the veteran quarterback stepped up in a collapsing pocket to deliver a pass, he took a shot from Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and was sandwiched between the rookie DT and Demarcus Lawrence.

Roethlisberger’s left knee bent awkwardly after Neville fell on top of it as both tumbled to the ground. Big Ben immediately appeared to be in discomfort and was seen hobbling into the huddle.

Cowboys thwart JuJu Smith-Schuster’s apparent Terrell Owens star celebration ode - Jason Owens, Yahoo Sports

JuJu had a former Cowboy great in mind for the latest edition of his trademark TD celebrations.

Both Cowboys defenders got in Smith-Schuster’s way during his post-score sprint. Gregory knocked the ball out of his hands.

Smith-Schuster picked it up but Woods, a 318-pound defensive tackle, flanked him as he started to run again. Smith-Schuster decided to veer off to join some of his teammates as Gregory got flagged for unnecessary roughness for the post-play contact.

Smith-Schuster appeared to have his sights set on the midfield star, a la Terrell Owens. He didn’t make it as far as Owens did in 2000 in one of the most infamous celebrations in NFL history. He also didn’t suffer the same fate as Owens, who got leveled by George Teague mid-celebration.

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