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2020 Week #9 GDT Steelers vs. Cowboys

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2020 Week # 9 GDT 7 - 0 Pittsburgh Steelers @ 2-6 Dallas Cowboys

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When: Sunday, November 8, 2020 @ 4:25 pm

Where: AT & T Stadium Arlington, Texas

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All Time Series Record: Dallas leads the series 17 -15 after winning the past two meetings in 2012 and 2016. Both games were highly competitive and close. They met three times in the postseason (Super Bowls) Steelers hold 2-1 advantage winning SB 10 and SB 13 and losing SB 30. 

Last Meeting: The Failed Two-Point Conversion Bowl won by Dallas 35-30. The Steelers 4-4 were fighting to stay in contention for a play-off spot versus the upstart 7-1 Cowboys in Pittsburgh. The Steelers scored two first quarter TD's and went for two and failed both times. They ended up chasing those points the remainder of the game.  In a back and forth game, Big Ben hit AB for a 4th quarter go ahead TD at the 14:14 mark of the fourth quarter and went up 30-29. They tried for two again to potentially go up three points. They failed and Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott quickly moved the Cowboys into FG position. On a third and one Elliott ripped off a 32 yard TD run that won it for the Cowboys with 9 seconds left in the game.

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More often than not, the Steelers defense sets the tone for their football team. Robert Spillane celebrates pick six of Ravens QB Lamar Jackson.

Key Cowboys Offensive Starters: RB Ezekiel Elliott, G Zach Martin, QB's Andy Dalton or Ben DiNucci, WR's Cee Dee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup.

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Hitman's Steelers Defensive Keys to Stopping the Cowboys Offense:

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1. Don't let Elliott get going on the ground. The run defense was badly embarrassed by the Ravens. Despite injuries the Ravens rushed for over 350 yards against a defense that prides itself on stopping the run and toughness. Some of the success was due to trying to stop Lamar Jackson and others were the combination of injuries to Tyson, Bush, and Hilton who all help in the run defense. Dallas has injuries on the OL as well. The status of NG Tyson Alualu is unknown at this time, but the defense cannot let Elliot start eating!

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2. Eliminate the big pass play. Long throws and untimely third and long completions have been a problem for the Steelers secondary all year. They have talent and they have their moments of both missing plays and making plays. The Cowboys have a talented group of WR's who can get open and move the chains. This is most likely the way the Cowboys will attempt to attack the Steelers defense to pass to set up Elliott to have some success running. 

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3. Get off the field on third downs. Nothing is more demoralizing and can change the momentum and flow of a game than the defense not getting off the field on third downs. This is somewhat disturbing when it is third and long (over 10 yards). We have seen this pattern too many times over the first seven games. Teams have converted through the air, on the ground, and via mental mistakes and penalties. Have to sharpen up here in this area.

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4. Don't beat yourselves Steelers. Not being redundant, but some of the same trends have taken place week in and week out. Second series of Ravens game turned the tide of the first quarter and led to the Steelers defense being on the field much longer and the Steelers offense on the sidelines.  A close call with an out of bounds hit on Lamar Jackson turned the tide of the first quarter. Rather than the Steelers defense forcing a three and out after holding Lamar Jackson well short of a first down: Personal foul penalty that results in an additional 15 yards and a first down. This led to the Ravens tying the score instead of the Steelers potentially being able to extend their lead. This also led to the defense getting worn down with the Ravens dominating the TOP in the first half. Can't keep making mistakes like that.

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5. Disrupt and hound whichever QB is playing. Nothing disrupts a passing offense more than consistent pressure on the QB and hitting the receivers to disrupt the rhythm of the passing attack. The Ravens did a great job of jamming the Steelers receivers, particularly Dionte Johnson at the line who relies on his quickness. The Steelers defense hounded Lamar Jackson on his pass attempts. He is the most dangerous running QB in the NFL, yet through pressure the forced errant throws, INT's and sacked Jackson. This is a must to keep the Cowboys offense out of rhythm. Andy Dalton knows this defense, but regardless of who is at QB. Making them uncomfortable will go a long way to stalling the Cowboys offense. 

Key Cowboys defensive players: LB's Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, CB Trevon Diggs, DT Neville Gallimore, DE Aldon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence

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Leighton Vander Esch is a tall and versatile MLB who can play the run and cover

Hitman's Steelers Offensive Keys to Beating the Cowboys Defense:

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1. Reestablish the run. The best way to beat this defense is to wear them out. We saw how well the Ravens used this against our defense in the first half. The Steelers need to get Connor rolling again.  McFarland looks like he is trying too hard, but if he can get settled, he can provide some speed, an accelerated change of pace, and a jolt. The Steelers also have Claypool and Ray Ray to use on some Jet Sweeps to get the run game going again.

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2. Get the WR's involved again. The Steelers WR's came to life in the second half of the Ravens game. The Steelers receivers offer something different with Ju Ju's  toughness, Dionte's elusiveness and Chase and Ray Ray's speed, and Washington's ability to catch intermediate and deep balls. As part of starting fast, use the run to set up the pass.  Test the Cowboys young secondary led by CB Trevon Diggs.

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3. Hold onto the football. The Steelers offensive players need to be more conscious of their ball security. Punts are better than turnovers. Although they are not losing a ton of balls, they are putting the ball on the ground too much for my liking. In a game like this coming off three consecutive emotional big games, the Steelers who have been known for letdowns have to keep their focus. Dallas should be limited with what they can do on offense with a back-up or third string QB. We know how that is after 2019, and the best way to lose is to let the ball slip through your fingers or force errant passes. Like the defense, Be smart and put two hands around the ball!

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4. Start quickly. It would be wise for the Steelers offense to get up on Dallas early and force them to try to keep up with the Steelers offense. A versatile and complimentary attack of run first and then pass would be ideal. The Steelers should be able to get their running game going against Dallas. They struggled against the Ravens and did not get any type of consistent rushing rhythm. They will want to change this. The Dallas defense has at times struggled against teams that can run. Remember the Browns put up 300 yards on the ground against the Cowboys defense. If the Steelers can get even half of that, it would put a lot of pressure on Dallas' defense and keep the Cowboys offense on the sideline.

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5. Don't let past demons of letdowns creep in. After facing two divisional foes and three big emotional games, some would say that the Steelers are due for a let down. This would be the very circumstance to get their first loss after three big wins. It is up to Coach Tomlin and staff to keep the Steelers humbled and focused. This team has a history of playing up for big games and down to opponents who do not have winning records. That is the ultimate in disrespect and the Steelers have been burned like that before. If the Steelers 2020 season is truly going to be something great and special, they have to get better each week, realize they have not accomplished ANYTHING yet, and stay humble and focused. 

Hitman's Steelers Special teams Keys to Beating the Cowboys Defense:

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Robert Spillane was everywhere against the Ravens. He's seen here making one of his 11 tackles.

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1. Jordan Berry had a nice comeback after a shanked 34 yard punt in the first half against B-more.  His punting will be relied upon to keep the Cowboys offense pinned deep and force them to have to try to drive 75 or 80 yards against the Steelers tough defense.

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2. You never know when a last second FG is needed, but Steelers have confidence in Boz. Boz has proven to be clutch and dependable over the past several years. 

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Rolling out the Welcome Mat to former Jet and newly acquired ILB Avery Williamson.

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Going from an 0-8 to a 7-0 team in the words of Charlie Sheen,  "That's winning!"

 

COMPLETE INJURY LIST TO COME OUT WEDNESDAY, 11/4/20 FROM STEELERS

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Steelers Injuries: It is said that Cam Heyward was suffering from cramps in the fourth quarter. He should be fine to go against the Cowboys.

Still waiting on the word about NG Tyson Alualu. Steelers saw how their run defense suffered with Alualu after a first quarter new injury.

We will hear later this week on the status of CB Mike Hilton.  UPDATE: 11/3/20 - - Tyson Alualu is believed to have a mild MCL sprain. Should not miss a lot of time (estimate: a few games).

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Stat of the weird: Since 2004, when the Steelers beat the Cowboys in their quad year meetings, they either advance to the AFC Championship Game or win the Super Bowl Game. 2004 - - Lost in AFC Championship Game to New England. 2008 - -Won the Super Bowl over the Cardinals. Steelers and Cowboys are 2-2 over that period. Let's hope for a 2008 like finish! 😀

Prediction: The Steelers seem to do everything the hard way. The Old 1980 Cleveland Browns were known as the Cardiac Kids with QB Brian Sipe. I wouldn't dare use or borrow anything Browns. 😁 But this version of the Steelers are like Fred G. Sanford!!!! OMG!  It's the Big One! 

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Steelers hold off the Cowboys 34 - 24 with a late game clinching TD. No, not quite as dramatic as the past few weeks, but heart and blood pressure pills are always optional and recommended when the Steelers play.

Edited by Steeler Hitman
Addition to injuries
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That 2016 game was a fun one. Fake spike TD to Brown with less than a minute left. Of course we still blew it though, gave up a lot of big plays in that game. 

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Fingers and toes crossed that we stay covid free now that Marlon Humphrey tested positive today 

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12 hours ago, August4th said:

 

Hopefully Buggs can use this extra playing time to gain some experience and skill. He might be our starting NT next year. 

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Buggs needs to become more of a penetrator as a NT or they will get gashed in the run game vs zone runs.  That is the difference with Alualu and Hargraves

Edited by jebrick
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32 minutes ago, jebrick said:

Buggs needs to become more of a penetrator as a NT or they will get gashed in the run game vs zone runs.  That is the difference with Alualu and Hargraves

So Buggs is more of a two gapper at this stage in his career? I didn't get a chance to watch 3/4 of the game, so I missed a lot. I read that he played poorly in the first half. I wonder if he's more of a two gapper because he isn't good enough to get into the backfield? 

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31 minutes ago, MOSteelers56 said:

So Buggs is more of a two gapper at this stage in his career? I didn't get a chance to watch 3/4 of the game, so I missed a lot. I read that he played poorly in the first half. I wonder if he's more of a two gapper because he isn't good enough to get into the backfield? 

I have only saw him in this game but those zone runs Baltimore made in the 4th quarter need to have a penetrating NT to put a stop to them.  He was running more as gap control which is what he did in Bama.

 

He has a lot of strength as shown by him pushing the center back and getting off blocks but he may need to shoot the gaps better or get Mondeaux as the penetrator

Edited by jebrick
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24 minutes ago, wwhickok said:

37-13 Pittsburgh 

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In the immortal words of Special Agents Johnson and Johnson (No relation), "I could live with that!" 37-13 would be good!

I am cautiously optimistic. Very "cautiously" optimistic.

 

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Just now, Neumatic said:

 

This will be a run heavy game.  he looked like the game was too fast for him last week.

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we should win this by 20+ tbh. hopefully Ben and some starters are on the bench in the 4th due to being up 3+ touchdowns.....

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On 11/2/2020 at 1:18 PM, Steeler Hitman said:

but heart and blood pressure pills are always optional and recommended when the Steelers play.

well thought out GDT as always by SH. Now this comment though, as history has shown is the painful truth. Will this team lose or almost lose to the team that on paper is having a bad season? 

I expect the DL to get 8 sacks or more in this game  as the cowboys are injured across their OL and the QB play will be less than the typical starter since they are on QB3 or QB4, kinda like the Steelers last year actually. Maybe the QB will have quick reads, wait and see. 

3 hours ago, August4th said:

we should win this by 20+ tbh. hopefully Ben and some starters are on the bench in the 4th due to being up 3+ touchdowns.....

+1, let the others get playing time and stay healthy. 

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