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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 12/10/2008

Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers

The visiting Cowboys entered this game dealing with some important injuries. Running back Marion Barber stayed in Dallas with a dislocated toe and linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who entered the week leading the league in sacks, was listed as doubtful. While Ware did end up playing (and recording his 16th sack) the injuries helped cause the line to climb. The Steelers opened as three point favorites but the number rose to 3.5 and eventually closed at four.

Those with tickets on the underdog felt pretty good about things almost the entire second half, regardless of what line they played. The Cowboys went up 10-3 early in the third quarter and they took a 13-3 lead into the fourth. It looked particularly promising after the Dallas defense shut down the Steelers on a fourth-and-goal play from the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys celebrated wildly after that play and many of their backers did too. Terrell Owens, who turned 35 on the day of the game and scored Dallas' only toughdown, said, "It's all about momentum. It's just momentum. It wasn't us thinking the game was over by any means. Sometimes it's just like that. We were excited, the game was going our way."

Evidently, the Steelers didn't take too kindly to the celebration. After forcing the Cowboys to punt from inside the 20-yard line, they got a big return from Santonio Holmes. That set them up with a short field, as they started at the Dallas 25-yard line. Pittsburgh could only gain two yards though and settled for a 41-yard field goal from Jeff Reed.

After Reed booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, the Steelers' defense did its job. The Cowboys went three-and-out and were forced to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh. Down 13-6, with roughly five minutes remaining, Rothlisberger an Co. took over at their own 33-yard line. Eight plays (including one fourth-down conversion) 67 yards and just over three minutes later, the game was tied.

Even with the momentum having clearly shifted in Pittsburgh's favor, Dallas bettors still felt somewhat comfortable. After all, the Cowboys had the ball with less than two minutes remaining. At this point, the most likely scenario was that the game would be decided by a field goal. Of course, this would have suited most of those backing the underdog.

After the Cowboys gained two yards on first down, the Steelers called a timeout. Romo and the Cowboys were surprised by this seemingly cocky move.

"(Romo) gave us that, 'Who called the time out? You called the time out?' .... Yeah, we called the time out,â€쳌 Steelers linebacker James Harrison told reporters after the game.

Cue the dagger.

On the very next play out of the timeout, Deshea Townsend intercepted Romo and took it 25 yards the other way for a touchdown. The Steelers hadn't scored a touchdown for the first 47 minutes of the game and in the span of 24 seconds, they scored twice.

Romo and the stunned Cowboys got the ball back with 1:35 left, but only managed a single first down. The final score of 20-13 doesn't reveal what a tough loss this was for those with tickets on the visitor.

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