Anyone who says a loss is a loss never lost the way the Pittsburgh Steelers did today to the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t enough that on Thursday night the Steelers saw the Cincinnati Bengals win, putting them in a tie with the Steelers for the wildcard. But earlier today the Steelers see the Indianapolis Colts lose, meaning their destiny was firmly back in their hands as a win helps them hang onto that final slot. So, going into Dallas this afternoon this team fully understood what was on the. So what went wrong?
On offense, the line really struggled to deal with the pass rush of the Cowboys. Once again the unit was dealing with injuries and new parts and it really showed. I’m not sure if the Steelers will make a concerted effort to improve this group in the offseason or just account for the fact they are young and allow them time to develop, but regardless they were outclassed in all phases of the game on this day. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was under constant duress and the running backs had almost zero room to operate.
On defense, the unit as a whole did a fair job keeping the Cowboys in check except for the fact that once again there was almost no pass rush. I understand with a beat up secondary you have to drop and cover more, but with 1st round picks all over the field among the defensive line and linebackers, there must be a way to get pressure without committing huge numbers. If they cannot, then personnel changes in the front 7 must happen this offseason. You cannot continue to bend and not break and expect to win week after week. At some point they must get more aggressive.
But even with all that the Steelers were in it. They came on with a fury at the end of the first half to tie it up and both teams went back and forth like 2 heavyweight fighters in the 2nd half. But the play of the game in regulation was the Steeler decision to pass on a 57 yard game winning field goal attempt to punt it away. And this is not hindsight, I said as much before the Cowboys returned the punt 39 yards. As Herm Edwards says, “you play to win the game!” and with how the Steelers defense had been playing, leaving potential points on the field is something I cannot agree with.
After a loss I always pick a goat of the week and this week there are a couple of dandies we will discuss. But in the final analysis, I can’t say this was a lopsided game or a crushing loss from a play point of view. Neither team played much defense but were opportunistic when they needed to and at the end the Cowboys made one more play than the Steelers. And that one more play might have cost the Steelers the playoffs.