The Steelers offense sputtered and stalled in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys and Ben Roethlisberger left the game early with a left knee injury.
But in the second half, Roethlisberger got back into the action and got his team back into the game, leading the Steelers to a three second-half scoring drives, including the game-winning touchdown to Eric Ebron with under three minutes to play in what became a 24-19 Pittsburgh victory.
The Cowboys got the ball back with two more chances to regain the lead, but Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt combined to sack Dallas quarterback Garrett Gilbert on fourth down to stop the first effort and Minkah Fitzpatrick knocked down the final heave for the second weak in a row.
The Steelers fell into a quick early hole, ceding 13 consecutive points to Dallas to start the game while the Pittsburgh had drives of nine plays for a punt, three plays and a punt and seven plays and a turnover on downs.
With the Steelers down two scores, Roethlisberger was injured on the Steelers’ penultimate drive of the first half, but stayed in the game and directed the team offense to pay dirt, connecting with James Washington for a 17-yard score to put the Steelers on the scoreboard.
After Roethlisberger’s injury, the Steelers got the ball back on the first of two Fitzpatrick turnovers and Chris Boswell set a team record with a 59-yard end-of-half field goal.
In the second half, Roethlisberger shook off the pain of the injury and the slow start. After a pair of Dallas field goals made the 19-9 Cowboys, Roethlisberger found JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 31-yard catch-and-run score.
Another Boswell field goal drew the Steelers to within one, setting up the final scoring drive, that carried the team 64 yards over six plays in just 1:57.
Roethlisberger finished 29 of 42 for 306 yards and three touchdowns. Smith-Schuster was his most prolific receiver, grabbing six catches for 93 yards. Diontae Johnson caught six for 77, including a pivotal long run down the left side to set up the Ebron score. Rookie Chase Claypool had eight catches os 13 targets for 69 yards.
The Steelers overcame several special teams miscues, including allowing two long returns that led to Dallas field goals, missing one extra point and getting another blocked.
With the win, the Steelers improved to 8-0, which is the best start to a season in franchise history. The Steelers wrapped their season-long three-game road swing with three straight one-score victories over the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys.
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Mike Tomlin Doesn’t Regret Punt, Will Talk to Ben Roethlisberger About Future
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answers questions from the media following his team’s shocking defeat at the hands of the Browns in the playoffs. Tomlin explained why he decided to punt on a 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter while trailing by multiple scores. He also touched on the timeline for when he will talk to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about his future with the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Doesn’t Regret ‘Browns Is the Browns’ Comment
PITTSBURGH — It was repeated so often in the five days between when JuJu Smith-Schuster said the phrase on Wednesday to Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field, that it nearly became the No. 1 talking point coming into the game.
“The Browns is the Browns.” Before the game, after the game and probably during the game, many of the Browns made it clear that they had taken exception to Smith-Schuster’s characterization of the team.
The Browns IS THE BROWNS!! 🌚
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®️++💕 (@JWills73) January 11, 2021
Smith-Schuster said after the game that he had no regrets about what he said.
“You know, I don’t regret what I said,” Smith-Schuster said. “I said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ They came out and they played a hell of a game. You know, there’s been games where we feel we lose them and today wasn’t our night and hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the same opponent and go out and do the same thing they did tonight and have a hell of a game.”