13 - 20 Final
  for this game

Steelers rally to jolt Cowboys

Dec 8, 2008 - 2:27 AM By Brad Everett PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- With the way the Pittsburgh offense was held in check for most of the Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, you almost had to think the only way the Steelers would win was if their highly revered defense picked up some of the scoring slack.

Mission accomplished.

Deshea Townsend returned a Tony Romo interception 25 yards for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the game, enabling the Steelers to overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and defeat the Cowboys, 20-13, at Heinz Field.

"I was able to jump the route, plus he overthrew it a little bit which helped us out a little bit," Townsend said.

The Steelers trailed, 13-3, heading into the final quarter, but fought back using all three facets of the game to notch the contest's final 17 points.

After Jeff Reed's 41-yard field goal brought Pittsburgh (10-3) within a touchdown with 7:15 left, the Steelers used their longest drive of the game - eight plays, 67 yards - to tie the game when Heath Miller hauled in a Ben Roethlisberger pass for a 6-yard touchdown with 2:04 left.

"It was a great call," Roethlisberger said. "Heath isn't going to be denied when he gets the ball down there."

Then, on Dallas' second offensive play of the ensuing possession, Romo's throw sailed high causing his third interception of the game, and Townsend hauled it in and streaked down the left side line to provide the dramatic score.

"We had a play designed to (tight end Jason Witten)," Romo said. "I don't know if it was a miscommunication or if he slipped or what. I threw it where he wasn't and that's on me."

The Cowboys had one final chance, but could only manage 10 yards and a quartet of Romo incompletions that sealed their fate.

It was the fourth win consecutive win for the Steelers (10-3), who hold a 1 1/2-game lead over Baltimore (9-4) in the AFC North. The Ravens host Washington on Sunday night.

"What a beautiful game, and I mean that," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "People get too preoccupied with style points. That was a beautiful football game because we displayed mettle and hung together."

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Cowboys (8-5) and was their first defeat since Romo returned from a broken finger which cost him to miss three games.

"My mind-set was coming on here and get a win against a good defense," Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens said. "I think that for the most part of the game we had the game, but you have to finish the game and we didn't do that."

The Steelers' defense, tops in the NFL against the pass and the run, came up big throughout, forcing five turnovers and registering three sacks. It also bailed out an offense that had its struggles, gaining just 238 yards and converting only 3-of-16 third downs.

"We are a work-in-progress, in that regard," said Tomlin, unwilling to give his defensive unit too much praise too soon. "Those guys in that room know that great defenses make their mark in January. We have to get there and then they can ear those kind of stripes. That are a heck of a defense and they are a big reason why we were successful today."

Prior to the Steelers' late surge, it appeared as if the Cowboys would fly out of chilly Pittsburgh with the victory, after they ripped off 10 third-quarter points to morph a 3-3 halftime tie into a 13-3 lead.

His struggles aside, Romo came up with a huge play, a scoring toss to Owens from 12 yards out with 9:49 left in the third quarter to put the Cowboys ahead by 10 points.

On the play, Romo did a fantastic job of avoiding pressure and buying time before eventually finding Owens, who made a leaping grab over Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor in the back of the end zone.

"After I ran my route, it kind of broke down," Owens said. "Tony was scrambling around the pocket and it was all about finding a hole and finding a zone to get open. I saw him and he threw that ball and it was just two players trying to make plays and we made a play on that one."

Romo finished 19-of-36 for 210 yards with three picks and a lost fumble for the Cowboys, who were playing without injured running back Marion Barber.

Roethlisberger completed 17-of-33 passes for 204 yards and did not throw an interception, but he was sacked five times.

A sloppy first half, in which both teams looked like they were doing their best not to score, resulted in just a pair of field goals.

The Cowboys likely couldn't have been happier, though, considering they committed four turnovers in the half - two fumbles and a pair of Romo interceptions - but still went into the break tied, 3-3.

But, in the end, it was a turnover that eventually did do in the Cowboys and gave the Steelers the win.

"It was a tough, well and hard-fought game," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "Someone came out a victor and it was the team that played the best at the end."