Big D From Big D

Our Big D, Dale Lolley, returned from Dallas with these notes following the Steelers' overtime loss to the Cowboys.

I picked the Steelers to lose this game, 26-23. They lost it 27-24.

That's not the surprising part - though the way my picks have gone this year, maybe it is. The surprising part is that I thought going in that the Steelers would have to rally to get to 26-23, then the Cowboys would hold them off at the end.

Instead, it was the Steelers who rallied, then gave up the lead and eventually the game.

But really, there was a lot to like here.

Unlike last week's disheartening loss to San Diego, the Steelers went toe-to-toe with the Cowboys. They showed up. They competed. They just came up short.

The Steelers made some big mistakes to be sure.

But down two of their top three corners - and later the top three - and with two rookies on the offensive line, the Steelers hung in a game on the road with a team whose strength is its passing game and pass rush.

They certainly looked a lot better than Cincinnati did Thursday night or Baltimore did on Sunday.

* The one problem I have with this team is that some of its younger "stars" still make stupid plays.

Witness Antonio Brown running out of bounds Sunday on third and forever to allow the Cowboys to save a timeout.

Or how about Brown allowing a punt to hit in front of him and bounce another 15 yards when the Steelers could have used the field position?

There just seems to be a play like that every week with this team, one that makes you scratch your head and wonder if these guys have ever watched a football game before.

And it seems like somebody different is making the boneheaded move each week.

* Ben Roethlisberger took a couple of not-so-veiled shots at offensive coordinator Todd Haley following the game, saying that the right plays weren't called to involve tight end Heath Miller.

Then again, Roethlisberger was calling many of those plays later in the game. Couldn't he have called Miller's number a few times, so maybe he was taking a shot at himself, since he never said the offensive coordinator didn't call plays for Miller.

Miller had 6 catches for 85 yards Sunday in the first half, but finished with 7 receptions for 92 yards.

Could it be that the Cowboys, after being burned so badly by Miller in the first half, adjusted their defense to take him away in the second? That's at least what it looked like to me.

* Roethlisberger really took this loss hard and was nearly in tears while talking to reporters after the game.

* The Steelers can still win the division, believe it or not.

If they finish in a three-way tie with Baltimore and Cincinnati, the Steelers win the AFC North based on head-to-head record against the Ravens and Bengals.

That assumes wins for the Steelers in their final two games, so there's some work to be done there.

Getting some corners back healthy would help. DeMarcus Van Dyke was in a sling after this game and Ike Taylor was wearing his walking boot - though there's a chance he could be back this week.

I actually thought Josh Victorian got better as the game wore on - after being abused early. After he stopped giving a 20-yard cushion, Victorian didn't look any worse than, say, Dewayne Washington out there.

* Special teams continues to be a problem area for these Steelers.

How in the world do you give up a 39-yard punt return with the game on the line?

And as mentioned before, how and why is Brown not fielding a punt with just less than two minutes remaining? At least fair catch the damn thing.

Perhaps Brown was skittish after muffing one punt and fumbling another. But if that's the case, don't put him out there.

Neither miscue directly cost the Steelers the game, though if Brown had fielded the ball around the 40, the 26 yards they gained before back-to-back sacks would have put them in field goal range.

* I know the Steelers were short-handed at corner, but really, why did it take Dick LeBeau so long to give up covering the Cowboys' three and four wide receivers sets exclusively with his base defense except on third downs?

The Cowboys don't want to run the ball that much, anyway, so why not play more nickel? It certainly beats watching James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley try to cover wideouts.

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