The last undefeated club in the NFL struggled with a two-win team with a QB making his first career start.
It wasn't pretty, but the Pittsburgh Steelers moved to 8-0 following Sunday's come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Cowboys, needing 15 fourth-quarter points to eke out a 24-19 victory.
"We're the Pittsburgh Steelers, everybody knows what that means," coach Mike Tomlin said, via the team's official website. "We get everybody's best punch, regardless of record. I think people respect our brand and they respect our franchise and its history. That's been my experience over 14 years here. Regardless of our record, people know when they are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers and a certain responsibility that comes with our reputation. We're going to get people's best shot."
The Cowboys started career backup Garrett Gilbert, who helped Dallas to a 13-0 lead before a couple of late scores from Pittsburgh in the first half closed the gap.
The Steelers offense couldn't get off the ground against a Cowboys defense that had been torched by everyone it played this season. The ground game was ineffective all afternoon, and it took two quarters for the passing attack to wake up. After getting hobbled in the first half, Ben Roethlisberger returned to throw for 306 yards on 42 attempts with three TDs, including the game-winner to tight end Eric Ebron with just over two minutes left.
The Steelers pass rush was surprisingly on-and-off all afternoon against a reshuffled Cowboys O-line that had been a sieve, but the defense got two stops late to secure the win.
Tomlin knows his team can't afford such slow starts against better clubs it will face down the road.
"Thankfully we've got a group that sticks together, that's mentally tough, that's able to persevere," said Tomlin. "I am thankful for that.
"We can't keep having these conversations every week because one of these weeks we'll be doing it with an 'L' if we're not careful. We're thankful to win today.
"We're excited about getting out of here with this one and moving on to AFC North football next week."
The Steelers put their undefeated record on the line next Sunday against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, who are coming off a bye week.