After a loss like this there will certainly be plenty of finger pointing by the Pittsburgh Steelers fans. This was the kind of game that you are just worn down when it’s over. The Steelers and Dallas Cowboys went back and forth through regulation and into overtime before the Cowboys finally came out on top. But as is tradition after a loss like this, someone must pay, and someone must be made an example of. And there are a couple of prime candidates.
First, we have to point a finger at quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Overall Roethlisberger played a very good game, keeping the Steelers in it almost all by himself. The running game was stagnant, the offensive line was a sieve, and it was up to Roethlisberger to make all the plays. But it was the play he didn’t make that will be remembered. The Steelers got the ball to start overtime, but on the second play of overtime Roethlisberger did what we feared. He telegraphed a throw to wide receiver Mike Wallace and Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr undercuts the route and picks off Roethlisberger and essentially ends the game. Definitely a worth candidate.
The other contender for this less than prestigious honor is wide receiver Antonio Brown. Two plays in particular stand out. First, Brown fumbled a punt in the third quarter after the Steelers defense had held. He was having an excellent return and nearing midfield when he coughed it up. This gave the ball back to the Cowboys and with renewed momentum marched down the field and scored a touchdown to help the Cowboys draw even when it looked like the tide was turning to the Steelers.
His second play, while boneheaded, didn’t hurt the team but was still one of those plays you have to wonder what he was thinking. On a third down and 26 Roethlisberger completes a pass to Brown and there was no shot he was going to get the first down, but instead of staying in-bounds and keeping the clock moving he works to get out of bounds giving the Cowboys more time on their final drive in regulation. As I said in the final analysis this play didn’t effect the outcome of the game, but it was still a seriously dumb move.
A final write-in candidate for the award is wide receiver Mike Wallace. In overtime when Roethlisberger threw the crippling interception that gave the Cowboys the ball, Carr actually made the pick at the 37 and went to the turf. Wallace was standing over Carr, but felt no sense of obligation to do anything like say touch him so he’d be down there and at least force the Cowboys to move the football downfield. Instead he stood bewildered remembering his days in college I suppose then Carr would have been down while Carr got up and hauled it down field to the 1 yard line.
But who gets the prize? Which of these three did the most to cost this team the game? I tried to weight these performances closely and weigh the good they did to the bad. When the dust cleared my goat is Brown. The Steelers had momentum. They had taken the lead and had forced the Cowboys offense back off the field. He holds onto that ball and the Steelers may have been able to extend that lead and give them control of the tempo on both sides of the ball. The Roethlisberger pick was bad, but they lose in regulation with out him. And Wallace was lazy, but there’s the Cowboys wouldn’t have had to move far to get into field goal range regardless. So for you Antonio Brown, you have earned the Goat of the Week.