In the ongoing quarterback controversy for the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott probably just saved Dak Prescott’s starting position for him.
Things looked bad for Prescott when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did his best impersonation of Dan Marino late in the fourth quarter, faking a spike to stop the clock and throwing a go-ahead touchdown pass that looked like it would end Dallas’ seven-game winning streak. But Elliott was not done, and the rookie running back broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run with just nine seconds remaining that secured a 35-30 victory for the Cowboys.
In an on-field interview after the game, Elliott said it was a Pittsburgh blitz that left a gap open for him to run through and he described Prescott as a beast for leading the team to victory.
“I looked at him before the drive and said ‘Dak, this is why we’re here. This is why we came to Dallas,’” Elliott said. “He didn’t flinch.”
The game was a fierce battle between the team’s offenses, with Prescott holding his own against the Steelers’ veteran quarterback and the teams trading leads seven times.
Down by five points in final minute of the game, Roethlisberger completed a 24-yard pass to Jesse James that put the Steelers on Dallas’ 15-yard line. The Steelers lined up to snap the ball, and players on both sides stood around as Roethlisberger faked a spike and then tossed the ball into waiting arms of Antonio Brown for what would have been the game-winning 15-yard touchdown. It was nearly a carbon copy of the play Marino made famous when he faked a spike before throwing a touchdown pass to beat the Jets in 1994.
But just as they have throughout the eight-game winning streak, which is tied for the longest in franchise history, the Cowboys did not give up. On a drive that started with just 42 seconds remaining in the game, Dallas went 75 yards down the field for the game-winning touchdown.
The game did feature Prescott making a rare rookie mistake, with a costly fumble in the first quarter that the Steelers were able to convert into a touchdown, but from there he was superb, completing 22 of 32 passes for 319 yards in his first 300-yard game. He threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to Elliott and a 50-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.
Elliott continued his mastery of the N.F.L., using the big holes created by Dallas’ offensive line to amass 114 rushing yards, 95 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Roethlisberger, meanwhile, lost despite throwing for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bizarrely, the Steelers failed to convert on three 2-point conversion attempts.
With Prescott having won eight consecutive games, the Cowboys may now face the difficult decision of leaving Tony Romo on the bench even if the veteran quarterback is ready to play next week. Considering the team’s success, it would be hard for any team to bench Prescott.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Benjamin Hoffman