DAL-PIT grades: Prescott, Bryant excel in Cowboys’ win

Dallas' offense grades well across the board in winning shootout over Pittsburgh.

| 3 weeks ago
(Justin K. Aller, Getty Images)

(Justin K. Aller, Getty Images)

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:

Dallas Cowboys

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.

prescott-passing-chart

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.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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.

roethlisberger-passing-chart

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

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • Mike J.

    Maybe the best game of a very entertaining weekend of ball, college and pro. The guy who stood out to me was the Boys’ center, Frederick. He was dominating in the run game.

  • Izach

    Hard to imagine dez gets the game ball over zeke, zeke was consistently falling forward and giving cowboys 3rd and short to work in, as well as scoring 3 TDs.
    DEZ had 1 big TD but zeke was a bigger factor to that game (as well as the OL).

    • payton

      I’m pretty sure a big part of that was consideration for the fact he played like he did 24 hours after his dad passed away.

      • Izach

        True I did hear that after later in the week