Quick takeaways from Week 10 late: Elliott and Prescott lead Cowboys past Roethlisberger and Co. to eighth in a row
Here are Arthur Arkush’s three quick takeaways from the Week 10 late-afternoon slate:
1. Cowboys-Steelers was everything any of us could’ve asked for — well, except for enthusiasts of well executed two-point conversions.
Ben Roethlisberger channeled Dan Marino to punctuate what the Steelers expected would be a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute, fake spiking it before heaving a gorgeous touchdown to Antonio Brown. That came after it appeared Mike Tomlin let Ezekiel Elliott score a touchdown to give Pittsburgh the last chance in a see-saw battle with seven lead changes.
Except it wouldn’t be the last chance, as Dallas, trailing by one, was left 40 seconds and 75 yards to try and conjure the magic to caputure its NFL-best eighth straight victory. And Ezekiel Elliott, magical all day, obliged, bursting through a massive hole created by Tyron Smith for a stunning game-winner from 32 yards out with just nine ticks left.
Elliott totaled 209 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow rookie Dak Prescott, with Tony Romo again inactive but inching ever closer to breathing down his back, was spectacular (121.7 passer rating). On the second touchdown, late in the third quarter to Dez Bryant to make it a two-score lead, Prescott showcased his ridiculously calm pocket movement by sliding and stepping up before drilling a perfect throw to Dez Bryant in stride for 50 yards and six.
Even Dallas’ defense, which barely endured the late loss of Orlando Scandrick as Pittsburgh exploited replacement Leon McFadden, kept Le’Veon Bell in check and played a physical brand of football, albeit while allowing a season-high 30 points. Sean Lee was again all over the field, J.J. Wilcox delivered a few tone-setting hits and DeMarcus Lawrence delivered with some timely late pressure.
Because of Elliott’s final touchdown, it’ll quiet the critics, but it’s worth noting Mike Tomlin’s Steelers were 0-for-4 (the Cowboys were 0-for-2) on two-point conversions. That meant Dallas needed only to get into field goal position for a potential game-winner, not the dagger Elliott would deliver, though in the end it obviously became a moot point.
Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown appear back after last week’s dud, but Pittsburgh now has dropped four in a row and could be in third place in the AFC North if the Bengals upset the Giants on Monday night.
Prescott and Elliott never left, but any lingering doubts whether Prescott will keep a healthy Romo on the bench were eliminated Sunday.
2. Don’t look now, but aside from Dallas, no team is hotter than the Dolphins, who went cross country and stole a game from the Chargers for their fourth consecutive victory. With all of the talk about the Titans’ and Eagles’ trades to acquire DeMarco Murray and Carson Wentz, respectively, it was Mike Tannenbaum’s two big trade acquisitions, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell, shining late for the ’Phins.
Miami intercepted Philip Rivers four times, all in the fourth quarter, with Alonso effectively burying the Bolts with a pick-six in the final two minutes. Miami and its maligned defense had just four interceptions in the previous seven games before Sunday.
Also huge in the victory for Adam Gase’s club was Ryan Tannehill, who completed his fourth consecutive game without a takeaway, and Jay Ajayi, who came up short of his fourth consecutive 100-yard day but managed 4.2 yards per carry and set up a key touchdown with a 40-yard burst.
The Chargers, well, their fourth quarter misery continues. Rivers, for all his brilliance, has been much too careless with the football much too often with multiple takeaways in three of the past four games, including two Bolts losses.
3. The Cardinals survived the 49ers at home, and that’s about the best we can say for Arizona, which improved to an uninspired 4-4-1, not a surprising mark for those watching Bruce Arians’ club play weekly.
Carson Palmer had three giveaways. David Johnson couldn’t run it for most of the day against the NFL’s worst run ‘D.’ Colin Kaepernick drove the Niners 57 yards for the game-tying touchdown in the final two minutes.
Arizona, an average team, let a bad team hang around until it almost came back to haunt the Cardinals. No, there’s no style points in the NFL, but Cardinals fans likely aren’t feeling a whole lot better about their club despite coming out of the bye with a desperately-needed victory. Of course, watching Seattle lose in Foxborough on ‘Sunday Night Football,’ which would close the gap in the NFC West with a head to head remaining, would help.