ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw all three of his touchdown passes after shrugging off a knee injury, rallying Pittsburgh to a 24-19 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and keeping the Steelers as the NFL’s only unbeaten team.
Pittsburgh is 8-0 for the first time in the storied franchise’s history despite an upset bid from the Cowboys, who were the biggest underdogs they’ve been at home in at least 31 years.
Garrett Gilbert was the fourth different starting quarterback in five games for Dallas (2-7), throwing a touchdown pass in his first career start and bringing some life to the offense for a team that lost its fourth straight game without Dak Prescott.
The Steelers erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter with three scoring drives, the last two aided by Dallas penalties that kept drives alive. The go-ahead score was an 8-yarder to Eric Ebron with 2:14 remaining.
The drive to the decisive score appeared to have stalled before it started when Roethlisberger threw incomplete on third down. But linebacker Jaylon Smith was called for hitting Roethlisberger’s facemask after the throw, and the 17-year veteran signaled as much to referee Tony Corrente.
Gilbert had a last chance in the final minute after coach Mike Tomlin tried to convert a fourth-and-1 instead of kicking a short field goal for an eight-point lead. But his pass to the goal line as time expired was knocked away by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Roethlisberger’s first touchdown came after he injured his left knee after a throw on a hit from defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. Limping and grabbing at the left knee between plays, Roethlisberger still completed four straight passes, capped by a 17-yarder to James Washington for Pittsburgh’s first points late in the first half.
Roethlisberger went to the locker room after the TD, and Mason Rudolph had to replace him when rookie Dallas receiver CeeDee fumbled after a catch. The Steelers settled for Chris Boswell’s franchise-record 59-yard field goal for a 13-9 halftime deficit.
Roethlisberger returned in the second half and finished 29 of 42 for 306 yards as the Steelers overcame a 46-yard rushing day.
Gilbert’s first touchdown pass was a 20-yarder to Lamb for a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. He was the second straight Dallas quarterback to make his first career start after rookie Ben DiNucci last week and finished 21 of 38 for 243 yards.
The Cowboys led 19-15 and were driving early in the fourth quarter when Gilbert was hit as he threw by Cameron Heyward, and Fitzpatrick intercepted the fluttering pass in the end zone.
Starting at the 1 and getting help from an illegal contact penalty that erased a potential turnover on a fumble by Roethlisberger, the Steelers drove and Boswell hit a 43-yard field goal to get within a point.
RECORD START TO CAREER
The victory means Mike Tomlin will tie Marty Schottenheimer’s NFL record of 14 straight seasons (1984-97) with at least a .500 record to start a career.
THREE FOR THREE
The Cowboys started a third different quarterback in a three-game span for the first time since 1994 when Troy Aikman, former coach Jason Garrett and Rodney Peete did it. The Cowboys won all three of those games. Although Dallas almost pulled a huge upset, the record was 0-3 this time.
Boswell’s 59-yarder was his career long, but he missed two PATs that could have been a factor late. One was wide, the other blocked by Tyrone Crawford.
Cowboys: Joe Looney replaced Tyler Biadasz at center after the rookie injured his hamstring during warmups. Looney was the starter before a knee injury sidelined him for three games, opening the door for Biadasz.
Steelers: Cincinnati at home next Sunday.
Cowboys: Open week, followed by visit to Minnesota on Nov. 22.