Wild overtime win moves Dallas into first place in NFC East

Posted Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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Cornerback Brandon Carr returned an interception 36 yards on the second play of overtime to put Dan Bailey in position for a 21-yard field goal that gave Dallas a 27-24 win in front of a rabid crowd of 95,595 at Cowboys Stadium. The win moves the Cowboys into a tie for first place in the NFC East with two games left.

“The biggest play [interception return] of the ballgame,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “It’s fun to be around this group.”

After winning the overtime toss, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tried to throw an out-route to Mike Wallace on a second-and-3 play from the Steelers' 27 yard line. Carr dove in front of the pass for the interception, rolled over and raced down the sideline to the 1.

Quarterback Tony Romo moved the ball to the center of the field on first down where Bailey made his third game-winning field goal of the season.

“Pure joy. It was a great team win,” Romo said.

With Washington winning and the New York Giants losing, Dallas moves into a tie for the division lead at 8-6. Dallas hosts New Orleans next week and closes the season at Washington.

“We’re not concerned about the standings,” Garrett said. “You have to take care of the task at hand.”

Romo passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns to finish with a passer rating of 111.3. Dez Bryant, playing with a broken finger, caught four passes for 59 yards and one touchdown. Miles Austin caught seven passes for 79 yards and Jason Witten had five receptions and one touchdown.

“It’s been a very interesting season,” Romo said. “Our football team has developed a mental toughness. We know if we can get to the fourth quarter, we have a shot at winning the game.”

Roethlisberger passed for 339 yards and two touchdowns and the costly interception in overtime. Tight end Heath Miller had seven catches and one touchdown.

“It’s simple, man, just not enough of the critical plays in the way of the moments of football games to seize opportunities,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “I thought we had opportunities. We were allowed to remain in the game and we lost the game because of it.”

A week ago, a one-car accident killed practice-squad player Jerry Brown, and nose tackle Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter. Brent was on the Cowboys sideline on Sunday.

After forcing the Steelers to punt on their opening possession, the Cowboys drove 56 yards in 10 plays with Bailey making a 50-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 8:36 left in the opening quarter.

Dallas forced a second punt after a third-down completion to Mike Wallace at the Cowboys’ 32 was challenged and overturned.

Dallas marched to the Pittsburgh 7, but DeMarco Murray, who had a 28-yard run on the drive, fumbled and Brett Keisel recovered for the Steelers at the 8.

The Cowboys forced a third punt and followed with a 58-yard touchdown drive.

Romo threw a 17-yard touchdown to Jason Witten to make it 10-0 with 11:02 left in the first half. Tight end James Hanna had catches of 16 and 29 yards on the drive.

Pittsburgh broke through with a 66-yard drive that ended with Shaun Suisham making a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-3 with 6:03 left in the first half.

After forcing a Dallas punt, the Steelers drove 73 yards in seven plays with Roethlisberger throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Heath Miller to tie the game at 10-10 at halftime.

“We just know that at the end of the day, we’re going to find a way to get the job done,” Romo said. “It hasn’t been pretty.”

After an exchange of punts to begin the second half, Dallas retook the lead on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Romo to Dez Bryant to make it 17-10 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.

The lead lasted less than 2 minutes as the Steelers needed only three plays to tie the game again. The big play was a 60-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Wallace. The touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Jonathan Dwyer to tie the game at 17-17 with 4:16 to go in the third quarter.

Following a failed third-and inches play when Romo was sacked, Dallas punted.

The Steelers went 78 yards in seven plays with Roethlisberger throwing a 7-yard touchdown to Antonio Brown, who stretched the ball across the goal line for a 24-17 lead with 12:37 left in the game.

Dallas caught a break on the punt when Antonio Brown was stripped by Victor Butler and John Phillips recovered at the Pittsburgh 44.

Seven plays later, Murray ran 3 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-goal play to tie the game at 24-24 with 6:55 left.

The Cowboys stopped Pittsburgh on the Dallas 40 when Roethlisberger was sacked by DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.

Dallas took over at its 12 with 2:54 left in the game, but had to punt three plays later.

Starting at its 20 with 1:47 left, Roethlisberger threw an 11-yard pass to Antonio Brown and Ware was flagged for a blow to the head for 15 more yards. But two sacks and a 14-yard pass forced a punt.

Dwayne Harris returned the punt 39 yards to the Steelers’ 49.

But Pittsburgh held.

On fourth down, Dallas lined up for a 61-yard field goal. After a timeout, the Cowboys decided to punt.

“We thought about it. We had the wind and the desperation yard line was the 42. We thought about it and decided it was not a good idea,” Garrett said.

Romo said he wanted to go for it or kick the field goal but was overruled by Garrett.

“It worked out,” Romo said.

Roethlisberger’s kneel down sent the game into overtime.

“We’re battling and peaking,” Romo said. “We need name tags. We have a bunch of guys that just got here and they’re playing.”

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