The Dallas Cowboys lost their week 9 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 24-19. The Cowboys played better than expected and led for the majority of the game.
The Cowboys are now 2-7 on the season, tied for last place in the NFC East. Here are three key takeaways from their week 9 meeting with the Steelers.
Best Offensive Performance since Week 5
The Cowboys played their best football game since Dak Prescott went down with an injury in week 5. Before their week 9 matchup, the Cowboys scored a combined 22 points in their past three games.
In week 9, they almost scored that mark against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. They scored 19 points and moved the ball every drive.
Their fourth-string quarterback, Garrett Gilbert, played better than expected as he threw for 243 yards and a touchdown. Although he threw a costly interception deep into the red zone, no one expected him to perform exceptionally.
Even though Ezekiel Elliott was not efficient once again, carrying the ball 18 times for 51 yards, his backup carried the load. Tony Pollard carried the ball nine times for 57 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
On the other hand, the offensive line also stepped up as they only gave up two sacks. This is a huge accomplishment as the Steelers rank first in sacks and average over four sacks a game.
Scoring 19 points against that defense with a fourth-string quarterback and backup offensive linemen should make the Cowboys impressed by their performance.
Fun Fact: Four different Cowboys players have thrown a touchdown pass since week 5 (Dak Prescott, Cedric Wilson, Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert).
Best Defensive Performance This Season
What a defensive performance by the Dallas Cowboys in week 9. They played the fifth-best scoring offense in the league and held them to just 24 points.
The Cowboys didn’t allow their first points of the game until 3:46 remaining in the second quarter. Stopping the Steelers’ offense is no easy task as their 30 points per game show just how solid they are.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys only had given up nine points. Although they let up near the end of the game (giving up 15 points in the fourth quarter), their defense finally showed potential.
In the past three games, Dallas’ defense has allowed an average of 24 points. This ranks 14th in the league during that span which is better than the Bears, Patriots and Buccaneers defenses.
Although the Cowboys weren’t able to get any sacks, they did bring pressure to Roethlisberger all game long.
Another key component of their solid defensive performance was open-field tackling. The Cowboys made all their tackles and missed very few of them. Trevon Diggs and Jaylon Smith led the way with seven tackles each.
The Cowboys held the Steelers offense to less than 25 points for the first time this season.
The Cowboys defense is trending in the right direction heading into the bye week.
It’s a Lost Year
The Cowboys sit 2-7 on the season, losing four straight games. They are currently tied with the New York Giants for last place and trail the Philadelphia Eagles by 2.5 games for first place.
As it stands now, Dallas owns the third overall pick in the 2021 draft.
When their three offensive players are healthy, the Cowboys offense is one of the best in the league.
With upcoming games against the red-hot Vikings and the Ravens, the Cowboys playoff chances are unlikely at this point. No team in NFL history has ever started 2-7 and made the playoffs. Although the weak NFC East and expanded playoff format could help their chances, it’s going to be difficult.
Tanking for a top-five pick isn’t a bad scenario for the Cowboys this season. They will be able to get one of the best defensive players in the draft whether it be a cornerback to bolster their secondary or a pass rusher.
The last time the Cowboys had a top-five pick, they selected Elliott fourth overall.
If Dallas can land a high pick, this can quickly help their chances next year at a deep playoff run.
Featured Image Courtesy of Dallas Morning News