DAL-PIT grades: Prescott, Bryant excel in Cowboys' win
Dallas Cowboys 35, Pittsburgh Steelers 30
Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Dallas Cowboys’ 35-30 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10:
Quarterback grade: Dak Prescott, 74.0
Prescott stays poised to lead comeback
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott had another clutch performance in Dallas’ win against Pittsburgh. Even though the Cowboys signal-caller missed a couple of throws that he could have made, he came through in key situations and under pressure. As a matter of fact, his completion percentage was nearly just as good under pressure as when he was kept clean, and he actually averaged one yard more on attempts when the Pittsburgh pass rush got to him.
Top offensive grades:
WR Dez Bryant, 83.2
TE Jason Witten, 80.1
C Travis Frederick, 79.3
G Ronald Leary, 78.1
T Doug Free, 76.8
Cowboys’ offense proves its diversity once again
Dallas’ offense keeps firing on all cylinders, as the Cowboys’ veterans and their two key rookies complement each other very well. The offensive line keeps opening big holes for rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who continues to excel at reading blocks and help his offensive line with his cuts. The former Ohio State running back averaged 3.5 yards before contact against the Steelers, including all 32 yards on his game-winning touchdown run. WR Dez Bryant was excellent in this one, earning Prescott a passer rating of 146.8 on nine throws sent his way. He caught six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Top defensive grades:
S J.J. Wilcox, 78.1
S Byron Jones, 78.0
CB Brandon Carr, 75.4
LB Anthony Hitchens, 75.3
CB Anthony Brown, 74.5
Conservative Cowboys defense fails to generate pressure
The Cowboys defense decided to play conservative and blitzed on only seven of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s 49 dropbacks. As a result, they were unable to generate pressure on a consistent basis and were able to put the Steelers signal-caller under pressure on only six dropbacks. Consequently, Roethlisberger was able to stand in the pocket and carve up the Dallas defense. He picked on second-year safety Byron Jones the most, who allowed seven receptions and 90 yards on eight targets.
Quarterback grade: Ben Roethlisberger, 79.4
Roethlisberger’s nearly flawless performance not enough to win
It is difficult to blame Ben Roethlisberger, or the offense, for the Steelers losing this game. The Pittsburgh quarterback was on target on 39 of his 46 aimed attempts and had a completion percentage of 63.6 percent on passes traveling at least 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. His best throw probably came on the most notable play. While he executed a fake spike, cornerback Leon McFadden did not seem to be affected by it, so Roethlisberger had to throw a perfect pass to Antonio Brown in close coverage, and he did just that to put the Steelers ahead late in the game.
Top offensive grades:
G David DeCastro, 84.0
T Marcus Gilbert, 80.7
T Alejandro Villanueva, 77.8
G Ramon Foster, 77.3
WR Antonio Brown, 77.0
Offensive line excels in pass protection but struggles in run-blocking
Pittsburgh’s offensive line did an exceptional job of protecting Roethlisberger, as they allowed only six total pressures on 55 pass-blocking snaps and were responsible for Roethlisberger going to the ground only once. However, on the other hand, the unit failed to help star running back Le’Veon Bell by creating space on running plays. Not only did Bell average only 3.3 yards per carry, he averaged just 1.1 yards before contact, which was the result of Dallas’ front seven stuffing gaps and getting the better of the Steelers offensive line on run plays.
Top defensive grades:
ED James Harrison, 81.6
S Sean Davis, 78.0
S Michael Mitchell, 76.0
CB Ross Cockrell, 74.8
CB Artie Burns, 67.8
Inability to stop the run leads to loss
The Steelers had several defenders grade poorly against the run, which comes as no surprise since Ezekiel Elliott averaged more than five yards per carry. It is quite telling that Pittsburgh defenders missed only four tackles, which highlights that the problem was rather coming off blocks and getting close to Elliott than bringing the rookie to the ground. The dominance of Dallas’ offensive line over Pittsburgh’s front seven was never more evident than on the game-winning touchdown when Elliott ran in untouched.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
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