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(Sunday, December 16th)
Final Score: Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT)
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - Brandon Carr intercepted Ben Roethlisberger on the second play of overtime to set up Dan Bailey's 21-yard field goal that lifted the surging Dallas Cowboys to a thrilling 27-24 overtime triumph over the slumping Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium.
Carr's pick was the second critical turnover forced by Dallas in rallying from a 24-17 deficit with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. The Cowboys tied the game on a 3-yard touchdown run from DeMarco Murray that came shortly after Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown lost a fumble on a punt return near midfield.
Tony Romo did his part as well in the Cowboys' third consecutive victory and fifth triumph in their last six tilts, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and amassing 341 passing yards while completing 30-of-42 throws.
The result also placed Dallas (8-6) in a three-way deadlock with the New York Giants and Washington for first place in the NFC East with two games remaining in the regular season. The previously front-running Giants were routed at Atlanta earlier in the day, while the Redskins defeated Cleveland for their fifth straight win.
Dez Bryant, playing with a fractured left index finger sustained at Cincinnati last week, also aided the Cowboys' cause by catching a 24-yard touchdown pass from Romo in the third quarter while finishing with 59 yards on four grabs.
Roethlisberger put up 339 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-40 passing, but his costly interception triggered Pittsburgh's second straight loss and fourth setback in five games. The Steelers (7-7) now trail fellow AFC North member Cincinnati by one game for the AFC's second Wild Card berth heading into next weekend's showdown between the teams in Pittsburgh.
"We understand where we are in this thing and the margin of error is zero," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
Both Brown and Heath Miller recorded touchdown catches for the Steelers, with Miller amassing 92 yards on seven receptions. Mike Wallace totaled 95 yards on four catches in a losing cause.
Roethlisberger and Brown's 7-yard connection less than 2 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter put the Steelers ahead by a 24-17 count, and Pittsburgh appeared on its way towards ending its skid after forcing a punt on the ensuing possession that Brown fielded and began to break loose.
He took the ball 22 yards before having his arm hit by Dallas' Victor Butler and fumbling, with John Phillips recovering for the Cowboys at the Pittsburgh 44.
Romo found Dwayne Harris for a 17-yard gain to the Steelers' three shortly afterward, and Murray plowed into the end zone three plays later to create a 24-24 tie with 6:55 to go.
Neither team could generate a credible scoring chance over the remainder of regulation, but it didn't take long for Dallas to have one in the extra session.
Carr jumped in front of Wallace on a sideline out route to snare Roethlisberger's pass on the second snap of overtime, then scampered 26 yards before finally being brought down at the 1-yard line.
Romo took a knee to center the ball on the following play for Bailey, who calmly knocked home the chip-shot kick after a Pittsburgh timeout for the win.
"It's the nature of this league. If you look at teams all around this league, the games come down to the end," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We just seem to play in maybe more of these kinds of games than most teams and Dan Bailey has made so many kicks for us over the years to win games."
The Steelers mustered a mere 59 total yards compared to 196 for Dallas in falling behind by a 10-0 margin early in the second quarter, but the offense finally got untracked over the latter portion of the first half.
Pittsburgh began the comeback by methodically moving 66 yards in 12 plays before bogging down and settling for a Shaun Suisham 32-yard field goal to get on the board. After forcing the Cowboys to punt on the subsequent series, Roethlisberger directed a 7-play, 73-yard march that would draw the Steelers even.
An 18-yard hookup with Brown with under a minute remaining before intermission had Pittsburgh set up for another attempt for Suisham, but the Steelers wound up instead getting seven points when an improvising Roethlisberger sidestepped a Dallas rush and finding a wide-open Miller down the right sideline for a 30- yard score that knotted the game at 10-10.
Dallas would go back on top with just over six minutes left in the third quarter, thanks to some precise passing from Romo. The veteran quarterback was a perfect 7-of-7 for 89 yards on a sustained series that he capped with a well-thrown 24-yard delivery to Bryant just inside the right corner of the end zone.
It would take Pittsburgh under two minutes to counter, however. Wallace got behind the Dallas secondary to haul in a 60-yard bomb from Roethlisberger two plays after Bryant's score, which led to Jonathan Dwyer powering across the goal line from a yard out to forge a 17-17 tie.
After the Cowboys were again resigned to punt, the Steelers churned out 78 yards in just seven plays to move in front for the first time of the game.
A 22-yard Isaac Redman run kicked off the drive and Roethlisberger followed with a 20-yard dart to Wallace before later hitting Jerricho Cotchery for 21 yards to put Pittsburgh inside the red zone.
The Steelers eventually got to the Dallas seven before Brown hauled in a Roethlisberger slant and broke the plane for a 24-17 edge.
Dallas started the game out strongly, building a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter that could have been more if not for nearly devastating fumble in the red zone.
Murray put his team in scoring range by ripping off an 11-yard run on Dallas' initial drive, a 10-play, 56-yard sequence that ended in Dan Bailey's 50-yard field goal near the midway mark of the first quarter.
The Cowboys were in excellent position to extend the margin on their next series, as a 28-yard Murray run gave Dallas a 1st-and-goal at the Pittsburgh seven late in the opening period. The second-year back would lose the ball two plays later following a hard shot from James Harrison, however, with Brett Keisel recovering for the Steelers to thwart the scoring chance.
Dallas would cash in on its following touch, though, with Romo hitting on all four attempts for 64 yards on a 5-play sequence highlighted by a 29-yard strike to James Hanna deep into Pittsburgh territory.
One snap later, Romo fired a 17-yard bullet to an awaiting Jason Witten in the back of the end zone for a 10-point differential around four minutes into the second quarter.
Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders left the game in the first quarter with a rib injury and did not return, while cornerbacks Keenan Lewis (hip) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (shoulder) also exited for Pittsburgh ... Dallas rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne was held out of the contest due to a concussion he sustained against Cincinnati last week ... Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall was serving a one-game team-imposed suspension for conduct detrimental to the team ... Miller joined Hines Ward and John Stallworth as the only Steeler players to record 400 career receptions with the organization ... Bryant has now registered a touchdown catch in six straight games, having notched eight over that stretch ... Romo eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark for passing yards in a season for the fourth time in his career during the game.
12/16 22:26:55 ET