Five thoughts on Cowboys’ win over Steelers

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys won for the fifth time in the last six weeks, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 in overtime Sunday.

Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys’ eighth win of the season.

The Cowboys are more than capable of reaching the postseason. I can’t believe I’m writing that in December after I basically eliminated them from playoff contention on Thanksgiving Day. But it’s true. The New York Giants have left the division title up for grabs and the Cowboys are playing their best football when it matters most. Jerry Jones couldn’t ask for a better combination. Hats off to everyone on the Cowboys sideline today. The offense, defense and special teams all had significant contributions. Jason Garrett seems patient even in the toughest of times. It appears his team is taking on that identity. Two regular season games remain and the Cowboys will likely have to win both to reach the postseason. After battling back Sunday, not sure many critics can say they’re not capable of accomplishing that task.

2.) Jerry Jones continues to preach that injuries are not to be used as an excuse, and to some degree the Cowboys owner and general manager is correct. But the Cowboys are officially in excuse territory on defense. A total of six beginning-of-the-season starters — Morris Claiborne, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Kenyon Coleman and Jay Ratliff — were not in the lineup because of injuries Sunday. Combine that with key reserve Orlando Scandrick also being out with an injury and a far-from-100-percent DeMarcus Ware and Rob Ryan was left with very little elite talent on that side of the ball. But for a second consecutive week, that group got the stops when the were most needed.

Jerry Brown was represented well during the first game at Cowboys Stadium since he was killed in a car accident eight days ago. Josh Brent, the man who was driving that automobile, was on the Cowboys sideline during a moment of silence held in Brown’s honor. Brent stood with Brown’s No. 53 jersey draped over his left shoulder. The Cowboys players each had a No. 53 sticker on the back of their helmet and Jason Garrett had a similar decal on his hat. During their halftime performance, the Grambling State band also briefly formed a No. 53. As it was last Sunday in Cincinnati, Brown’s No. 53 jersey was placed over one of the benches on the Cowboys sideline. It was a great tribute by all that were involved.

Tony Romo continues to impress late in the season. Early in his career, the Cowboys quarterback struggled in December, but that has changed over the last few years. Romo, who had eight touchdown passes and no interceptions last December, has six touchdowns and one interception this month, and most importantly, three wins and no losses. This is the type of Romo that could carry the Cowboys right into the playoffs and, dare I say it, possibly a postseason victory, too.

What a great atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium. Roughly a third of the announced crowd of 95,595 were Steelers fans, which probably made the decibel level rival the college matchups of Oregon/LSU and Alabama/Michigan that were played in the same building. Playoff hopes were on the line for both teams and obviously the tradition of the two franchises didn’t hurt. A perfect 70-degree day also allowed the roof and doors to be open. Not sure anyone could have asked for a better setting for a December football game.