NFL:Steelers 20, Cowboys 13: Late interception wins it for Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH ó Deshea Townsend scored on a 26-yard interception return with 1:40 remaining as the Pittsburgh Steelers scored their only two touchdowns 24 seconds apart to rally from a 10-point deficit and deal the Dallas Cowboys a potentially damaging loss, winning 20-13 on Sunday.
Pittsburgh was stopped on a fourth-and-goal play at the Dallas 1 early in the fourth while falling behind 13-3, but came back to tie it at 13 on Ben Roethlisberger’s 6-yard pass to Heath Miller with 2:04 remaining. Roethlisberger found Nate Washington three times for 51 yards on a 67-yard drive after the Cowboys (8-5) twice stalled on drives that, if they had scored, probably would have sealed it.
The Dallas loss secured the NFC East for New York (11-2), despite the Giants’ 20-14 loss to Philadelphia earlier in the day.
The Steelers (10-3) didn’t wrap up an AFC playoff spot, but won their fourth in a row and ended Dallas’ three-game winning streak to assure themselves of the AFC North lead going into next Sunday’s game at Baltimore.
It was another December disappointment for Dallas, which is 17-29 in the month since 1996.
On second-and-8 from the Cowboys 17, tight end Jason Witten ran the wrong pass route, allowing Townsend to step in front of the pass for the fifth turnover forced by Pittsburgh’s league-leading defense. Until the closing minutes, that defense had been outplayed by a determined Dallas defense that held Pittsburgh to 70 yards rushing and 238 yards.
Dallas rookie Tashard Choice ran for 88 yards in his first NFL start, the most against Pittsburgh all season, and Tony Romo improvised a 12-yard scoring pass to Terrell Owens to apparently put Dallas in command early in the third quarter. Romo, coming off successive 300-yard games, ended 19-of-36 for 210 yards and three interceptions.
Roethlisberger was 17-of-33 for 204 yards in his 48th career victory, the most by a quarterback in his first five seasons.
After Choice’s 22-yard run to the Steelers 38 early in the third, Romo found Martellus Bennett for 13 yards and Choice ran for 12 before Romo ó taking more than eight seconds to throw while scrambling to his left and right ó somehow found Owens in the rear of the end zone. Owens was blanketed by Ike Taylor, yet leaped over him for Romo’s seventh touchdown pass in four games since returning from a finger injury.