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Take a look at some of the first NFL stories from week 9.

USA TODAY

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott run backwards wants to clear, not hunt for moral victory.

“We’re still here to win soccer games,” Elliott said after losing 24-19 to Pittsburgh. “And we have to find a way to win football games.”

But if Elliott is cautious to celebrate any discovery about losing 5 points to what the undefeated Steelers say about Cowboys, let DeMarcus Lawrence unpack what the contest has to say about their competition.

“I don’t feel that no one in this tournament is elite,” Lawrence said as Cowboys fell 2-7 and the Steelers improved to 8-0. “You look at their schedules or logs, and their logs might say otherwise. But clearly, by looking at today’s match, there was no such elite.

“Everyone has a chance to win.”

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Perhaps that came as a surprise to some after the Cowboys, starting their four different fourth-quarter match in five weeks, were deemed 14.5 points behind at home to Pittsburgh. Add to the league’s worst rushed defense, the highest grossing offense and a special team unit can’t even consistently put out 11 players in a number of matches? The Cowboys outlook when entering the Steelers game is bleak. Their point of view comes out from the game a bit brighter.

“This is clearly our best team that we’ve played this year,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. “It’s a tough match to say the least.”

Cowboys defense allowed 170.8 yards per game limited to Pittsburgh at 46. A ceded Cowboys defense converted from third to 49.5% of attempts (fourth-lowest in the league) limited to Pittsburgh at 38.5%. The Steelers still didn’t score until the last 2 minutes of halftime. Ben Roethlisberger’s two passes in the first quarter were the worst mark of his career, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

“Just don’t stop,” defender Leighton Vander Esch said of the defense’s goal. “Don’t put anything that lazy, ‘don’t run to the ball’ in the movie. That’s really what we’re focusing on. Just have good energy and run to the ball. “

The defense has now had two energetic performances. But unlike the 23-9 defeat in Philadelphia (only 15 points of which are allowed by the defense), the task force and attack also made a significant contribution against the Steelers. In special teams, a dribbling pass from receiver Cedrick Wilson to defender CJ Goodwin turned a header into a 73-yard goal. Rerun Rico Dowdle, who had previously made three appearances in his career in 13 meters, launched a bounce on 64 meters. Defense Tyrone Crawford blocked a Pittsburgh effort to add points.

A goalless foul in the last two games – and the previous three, just in the free time of the final minutes of a massive defeat to the Cardinals – reached the bottom area with a 20-yard pass from money Garrett Gilbert defended rookie CeeDee Lamb in the second quarter. In total, Dallas scored five of its first seven properties. The offense boasts the most productive performance since losing midfielder Dak Prescott (ankle) in Week 5.

Gilbert, who completed 21 of 38 243-yard passes, one touch and one intercept, said: “It’s not easy for anyone to make mistakes to get past four midfielders in nine games. match. “So it’s a real testament to those people that they just bow and keep working. I can’t say enough about all the men in that room.

But at the end of the game, Cowboys’ steady form shed light. Gilbert made his first strike three minutes into the fourth half, Minkah Fitzpatrick safe for All-Pro to throw the ball in the center of the backyard. In the resulting series, midfielders Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch took the penalties in consecutive fourth-half plays. Instead, a sack by Roethlisberger enlarged Pittsburgh’s driveway, culminating in a target in the field.

During the Steelers’ next drive after a Cowboys wits, Roethlisberger missed the recipient of Chase Claypool in seasons three and 10. However, Smith was flagged again – this time for a brutal punishment against the man. through. Lawrence was furious.

A powerful show of horrible black and gold Scarves waved from around a crowd of 31,700 fans on AT&T Stadium.

“The frustrating part is that it’s not under our control,” Lawrence said when asked about the penalties. “I was not the one complaining but that was the total number of BS in that last call. So hopefully the NFL can take that into account and we will improve that.

“That was just unacceptable, especially in a match like this.”

Roethlisberger tightly wrapped up Eric Ebron in an 8-yard gallop touch to take a 24-19 lead, and Cowboys’ next strike ended with a 17-yard, 17-yard Gilbert shot. Dallas was given another chance at 38 seconds, but Gilbert missed Lamb “a little too far inside,” the midfielder described it, across the front line of the end.

“It’s the kind of thing you dream of, and it’s the kind of situation you live in as a defender,” said Gilbert of the chances of creating a winning game. “I just need to give him a better ball.”

Currently, Gilbert has given Cowboys a higher chance of winning than rookie Ben DiNucci a week earlier. Cowboys hope Andy Dalton will return after concussion protocol and reserve / COVID-19 list after goodbye, when Dallas will travel to Minnesota.

McCarthy praised the team’s “daring and tough” in the locker room after the game, McCarthy said, the players emerging by a massive fight they failed to consistently show every week of the season.

“Today is a reflection of what we can do,” McCarthy said. “We have certainly been taking steps in the right direction over the past two weeks as long as the understanding and speed of what we’re trying to accomplish. We have a week bye. We will take time to learn it all by ourselves, both for each player and for all three phases. We’ll upload it because it’s time. We have to get started.

“We need to go and we need to start winning.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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