News & Analysis

NFL Week 9 PFF ReFocused: Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Dallas Cowboys 19

Nov 8, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane (41) and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) defend the last play of the game against Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It was not pretty in the slightest, but the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Garrett Gilbert-led Dallas Cowboys, 24-19, to remain the only undefeated team in the NFL.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story Of The Game

The Cowboys trotted out their fourth starting quarterback of the season, and he was not expected to put up much of a fight against the highest-graded defense in the NFL coming into Week 9. But even though the Cowboys were 14-point underdogs coming into the contest, they still headed into the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead. 

Despite leading for three quarters, the Cowboys offense still struggled. Ezekiel Elliott went his fourth consecutive game with fewer than 65 yards rushing and zero touchdowns. The biggest indicator of Elliott’s struggles was that backup running back Tony Pollard was the better runner against the Steelers. Pollard led the Cowboys in rushing yards (57), yards after contact (44), missed tackles forced (3) and rushes of 10-plus yards (three to Elliott’s one). 

The Pittsburgh defense bailed the stagnant offense out on multiple occasions. The main contributor was Minkah Fitzpatrick, who recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass in the end zone late at a crucial point. 

Forcing turnovers was not the only area the Steelers excelled in against Dallas. The Steelers recorded their 65th game in a row with a sack, just four shy of the NFL record. They also recorded 20 pressures against a pieced-together Dallas offensive line — Pittsburgh’s fifth game this season with 20-plus pressures. 

Rookie Watch

CeeDee Lamb and Chase Claypool have become potential No. 1 targets on their respective teams. Claypool led the Steelers in targets and average depth of target, while Lamb led the Cowboys in receiving yards and led all receivers in average depth of target.

Terence Steele has been thrown into the fire on a depleted Dallas offensive line. Tonight, against the highest-graded pass rushing defense, he was beaten by a defender on four of his 42 pass-blocking snaps. 

Trevon Diggs has struggled this season after being thrown into the No. 1 corner slot, and the struggles continued tonight, as he gave up his third-highest completion percentage (71.4%) of his rookie season. Meanwhile, on a revamped Dallas defensive line, Neville Gallimore was able to record one quarterback hit on 16 pass-rushing snaps. 

Adding to the elite Steelers pass rush, Alex Highsmith was able to record a sack from the linebacker spot.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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