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Cowboys 100: Facts and stats ahead of matchup against the Steelers

The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers have combined to win 11 of the 54 Super Bowls in NFL history and Sunday will mark the 33rd meeting between them.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, left, talks with staff members in the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The Dallas Cowboys were unable to secure a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8, which would have allowed them to reclaim a lead in the NFC East. 

Now, with six losses in eight games, the Cowboys welcome Pittsburgh to Arlington in what stands as one of the toughest challenges that Dallas will face on their 2020 schedule. 

With that in mind, here are 100 facts and stats as Dallas looks to snap a three-game losing streak and derail the undefeated Steelers:

Series Facts

  1. The Cowboys’ first ever game was against the Steelers on Sept. 24, 1960 in a 35-28 loss at the Cotton Bowl.
  2. The Cowboys’ first ever win, a 27-24 barn-burner, was also against the Steelers on Sept. 17, 1961, also at the Cotton Bowl.
  3. The Cowboys are 2-6 for the fifth time in team history. None of those previous teams made the playoffs.
  4. Since 1990, the last time playoff formats were changed, all 88 teams that started 2-7 failed to make the playoffs.
  5. Since 1990, 1 of 140 teams that started 3-6 made the playoffs: the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars.
  6. The Steelers are 7-0 to begin the season for the second time in team history. The first time was in 1978 when they went on to beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII.
  7. Since 1990, teams that started 7-1 made the playoffs 48 of 50 times. 34 of 48 of those teams won their division.
  8. Since 1990, all 20 teams that started 8-0 made the playoffs with 13 of 20 of those teams earning their conference’s No. 1 seed.
  9. The Cowboys are 4-2 against Pittsburgh in November with a 2-0 record at home.
  10. The Cowboys are 9-5 against the Steelers at home. Here is a breakdown by venue: 
  • Cotton Bowl: 5-3
  • Texas Stadium: 3-2
  • AT&T Stadium: 1-0

11. The Cowboys played in more playoff games in their first 10 seasons (5) than the Steelers did from 1933-69. 

Ezekiel Elliot Facts

  1. Elliott is eighth in the NFL with 521 rushing yards.
  2. Elliott’s 269 yards after contact are the eighth-most in the league.
  3. Elliott has picked up 35 first downs on the ground, the third-most in the league.
  4. Elliott is tied with Aaron Jones, Carson Wentz, Josh Jacobs, James Conner, and Jerick McKinnon for sixth-most rushing touchdowns in the league with five.
  5. Elliott is fifth in the NFL with 80 first down carries.
  6. Elliott’s 4.29 yards per carry on first down is the fifth-lowest among running backs with at least 70 such carries this season.
  7. Elliott’s 343 rushing yards on first down are the fifth-most in the league.
  8. Elliott is currently in the second-longest stretch without a rushing touchdown of his career. The longest was from Weeks 13-17 in 2018.
  9. Week 8 at the Eagles was the first time since Week 4 against the Browns that Elliott played more than 60 snaps. 
  10. Elliott has five fumbles, the most among skill positions this season. Next closest is Pittsburgh receiver Chase Claypool with three.

Ben Roethlisberger Facts

  1. Roethlisberger is 2-2 against the Cowboys. Here is how he compares to other Steelers quarterbacks:
  • Terry Bradshaw: 5-1

  • Ed Brown: 3-1

  • Rudy Bukich: 1-0

  • Bubby Brister: 1-0

  • Bill Nelsen: 1-1

  • Ben Roethlisberger: 2-2

  • Bobby Layne: 2-2

  • George Izo: 0-1

  • Ron Smith: 0-1

  • Kent Nix: 0-1

  • Terry Hanratty: 0-1

  • Kordell Stewart: 0-1

  • Mark Malone: 0-1

  • Dick Shiner: 0-2

  • Neil O’Donnell: 0-3

2. Roethlisberger’s 67.9 completion percentage is the 10th-most in the NFL. Dak Prescott is ninth at 68.0%.

3. Roethlisberger is tied with Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert, and Baker Mayfield for the seventh-most passing touchdowns with 15.

4. Roethlisberger’s 6.6 yards per pass attempt is the seventh-lowest in the league.

5. Roethlisberger’s 9.7 yards per completion is the third-lowest in the NFL.

6. Roethlisberger is tied with Daniel Jones for the third-most passes batted at the line of scrimmage with eight.

7. Roethlisberger has had 16 passes dropped, the seventh-most in the league.

8. Roethlisberger gets the ball out quick, as his 2.1 seconds in the pocket are the fewest in the NFL.

9. Roethlisberger’s 20 play-action passes are far and away the fewest among quarterbacks who have started every game.

10. Roethlisberger and Miami’s Bob Griese are the only multiple Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks to have not won the game’s MVP award.

Mike McCarthy Facts

  1. This is the first time in McCarthy’s career that he has coached a team to a 2-6 start.
  2. This is the first time since 2013 with the Packers that McCarthy will have used four different starting quarterbacks
  3. McCarthy is 1-3 against the Steelers, including postseason. The only game he won against the Steelers was Super Bowl XLV.
  4. McCarthy’s 1-3 record against the Steelers is his worst against an AFC North opponent, including postseason:
  • Browns: 3-1

  • Ravens: 2-1

  • Bengals: 1-2

  • Steelers: 1-3

5. McCarthy’s 7-8 record against the AFC North, is his worst output against an AFC division:

  • AFC West: 10-2

  • AFC East: 8-7

  • AFC South: 6-6

  • AFC North: 7-8

6. McCarthy is 25-30-1 in November with a 13-10-1 record at home.

7. McCarthy is 17-19 against Super Bowl-winning coaches with a 12-5 record at home.

8. McCarthy is 6-14-1 with backup quarterbacks with a 2-7-1 record at home.

9. McCarthy is 46-39 against playoff-winning quarterbacks with a 28-12 record at home.

10. McCarthy is 15 for 28 at snapping a losing streak.

11. McCarthy is 47 for 94 on challenges for his career with an 0 for 1 record in 2020.

Mike Tomlin Facts 

  1. A win would ensure Tomlin still hasn’t had a losing season since being hired in 2007.
  2. Tomlin and Chuck Noll are the only Steelers coaches who can claim a 7-0 record to begin a season.
  3. Tomlin is 37-18 against the NFC, including Super Bowls, with a 16-13 record on the road.
  4. Tomlin is 1-2 against the Cowboys. Here is how he compares to other Pittsburgh coaches: Chuck Noll: 6-4; Buddy Parker: 1-0; Mike Nixon: 1-0; Mike Tomlin: 1-2; Bill Cowher: 1-3; Bill Austin: 0-1
  5. Tomlin is 62-46 against playoff-winning coaches with a 25-28 record on the road.
  6. Tomlin is 34 for 80 on challenges for his career with an 0 for 2 rate in 2020.
  7. The Steelers’ 40 penalties this season are the ninth-most in the Tomlin era.
  8. Pittsburgh’s 40 penalties are tied with the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans for 11th-fewest in the league.
  9. Hired in 2007, Tomlin has the third-longest tenure of any active coach. Only Bill Belichick (2000) and Sean Payton (2006) have longer tenures. Only Tomlin and Belichick have never logged a losing season in that span.
  10. Tomlin is the longest tenured active Super Bowl “loser.” Tomlin kept his job after the Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV. Other coaches such as Jim Harbaugh, John Fox, and Ron Rivera are no longer with the teams they led to a Super Bowl loss.

Broadcast Facts

  1. This is the eighth straight regular season game in the Cowboys-Steelers series that will draw the A-team from the network broadcasting the game.
  2. CBS will broadcast its 23rd game in the series. Here is how that compares to other networks: CBS: 22; NBC: 5; FOX: 4; ABC: 1
  3. Since CBS took over the AFC package, the Cowboys are 25-17 on that network. Overall, the Cowboys are 292-194-6 on CBS, including the postseason.
  4. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo are the 22nd different play-by-play team in the series.
  5. The Cowboys are 21-14 when Nantz calls their games, playoffs included.
  6. Dallas is 3-4 when Romo calls the action.
  7. Sunday will be the ninth late afternoon game in the series, including Super Bowls. The series is locked at 4-4 in afternoon games.
  8. The first ever Cowboys game on FOX was a match-up with the Steelers on Sept. 4, 1994. Dallas prevailed 26-9 in Pittsburgh.

Tony Corrente Facts

This week’s referee is Tony Corrente. The Cowboys are 9-9 when he referees their games:

  • 2000 — MIN, 15-27 – L
  • 2001 — @SEA, 3-29 – L
  • 2004 — NO, 13-27 – L
  • 2005 — Rams, 10-20 – L
  • 2006 — WAS, 27-10 – W
  • 2009 — CAR, 21-7 – W
  • 2010 — @WAS, 7-13 – L
  • 2010 — @PHI, 14-13 – W
  • 2013 — NYG, 36-31 – W
  • 2014 — WAS, 17-20 – L-OT
  • 2015 — @PHI, 20-10 – W
  • 2016 — CIN, 28-14 – W
  • 2016 — @MIN, 17-15 – W 
  • 2016* — GB, 31-34 – L
  • 2018 — JAX, 40-7 – W
  • 2019 — @DET, 35-27 – W
  • 2019 — @PHI, 9-17 – L
  • 2020 — @RAM, 17-20 – L

*playoff game

Since 2000, the Cowboys have had fewer penalties than their opponents 7 of 18 times. Here is the breakdown:

  • 2000 — MIN: 4/21; DAL: 5/45
  • 2001 — SEA: 0/0; DAL: 6/70
  • 2004 — NO: 9/136; DAL: 11/76
  • 2005 — Rams: 7/40; DAL: 10/78
  • 2006 — WAS: 11/117; DAL: 9/90
  • 2009 — CAR: 6/60; DAL: 9/80
  • 2010 — WAS: 5/42; DAL: 12/81
  • 2010 — PHI: 4/40; DAL: 6/45
  • 2013 — NYG: 6/52; DAL: 5/40
  • 2014 — WAS: 6/45; DAL: 3/35
  • 2015 — PHI: 8/60; DAL: 18/142
  • 2016 — CIN: 6/49; DAL: 7/45
  • 2016 — MIN: 8/57; DAL: 10/78
  • 2016* — GB: 3/22; DAL: 6/50
  • 2018 — JAX: 4/30; DAL: 3/25
  • 2019 — DET: 11/89; DAL: 6/45
  • 2019 — PHI: 4/30; DAL: 2/20
  • 2020 — RAM: 5/34; DAL: 7/50

*playoff game

Corrente is tied for the sixth-lowest home team winning percentage at .429:

Corrente is tied for the fifth-lowest percentage of home teams having fewer penalties at .429.

The Steelers are 7-10 with Corrente as the ref:

  • 2000 – @NYG, 10-30 – L
  • 2001 – MIN, 21-16 – W
  • 2001* – RAV, 27-10 – W
  • 2002 – @NE, 14-30 – L
  • 2002 – @OTI, 23-31 – L
  • 2005 – @CIN, 27-13 – W
  • 2006 – @RAI, 13-20 – L
  • 2008 – @CLE, 10-6 – W
  • 2010 – RAI, 35-3 – W
  • 2011 – @RAV, 7-35 – L
  • 2012 – PHI, 16-14 – W
  • 2014 – @CIN, 42-21 – W
  • 2015 – CIN, 10-16 – L
  • 2017 – NE, 24-27 – L
  • 2018 – RAV, 14-26 – L
  • 2018 – @DEN, 17-24 – L
  • 2019 – BUF, 10-17 – L

*playoff game

The Steelers have had fewer penalties 11 of 17 times with Corrente as the ref:

  • 2000 – NYG: 6/91; PIT: 5/42
  • 2001 – MIN: 5/36; PIT: 3/30
  • 2001* – RAV: 9/65; PIT: 5/50
  • 2002 – NE: 7/88; PIT: 13/112
  • 2002 – OTI: 5/36; PIT: 4/20
  • 2005 – CIN: 4/35; PIT: 5/65
  • 2006 – RAI: 5/45; PIT: 6/70
  • 2008 – CLE: 10/65; PIT: 7/60
  • 2010 – RAI: 7/55; PIT: 14/163
  • 2011 – RAV: 7/75; PIT: 6/53
  • 2012 – PHI: 5/35; PIT: 9/106
  • 2014 – CIN: 7/54; PIT: 3/20
  • 2015 – CIN: 10/94; PIT: 10/91
  • 2017 – NE: 2/4; PIT: 6/63
  • 2018 – RAV: 7/50; PIT: 5/40
  • 2018 – DEN: 6/50; PIT: 5/34
  • 2019 – BUF: 8/70; PIT: 6/30

*playoff game

Corrente’s games have the most sacks per game with an average of 6.6 per contest.

Corrente is tied for the second-lowest offensive holding calls per game with 1.1 per contest.

When Corrente has officiated Cowboys games, the Cowboys are 1 for 5 on coaches challenges compared to opponents 3 for 3. Replay Assistant is 0 for 4 with all of those calls benefiting the Cowboys.

With Corrente, the Steelers have won challenges 3 of 8 times with opponents going 3 for 6. Replay Assistant has been 1 for 3 with all three of those calls benefiting the Steelers.

Corrente is tied for the sixth-highest challenge overturn rate at .667 (2 of 3).

Miscellaneous Facts

  1. Steelers running back James Conner is 10th in the NFL with 498 rushing yards.
  2. Conner is tied for the fifth-most red zone rushing touchdowns with five.
  3. Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper is tied with the Bears’ Allen Robinson for the second-most targets with 77.
  4. Cooper is tied with Stefon Diggs and Tyler Boyd for the third-most catches with 54.
  5. Cooper’s 588 receiving yards are the 10th-most in the league.
  6. Cooper’s 32 first downs by reception are the seventh-most in the league.
  7. Steelers receiver Chase Claypool’s 16.3 yards per reception is the 10th-highest in the NFL.
  8. Claypool’s five touchdown receptions are tied for the ninth-most in the league.
  9. Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup’s 16.6 yards per reception is the ninth-most in the league.
  10. Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is tied with Khalil Mack and Jason Pierre-Paul for fifth-most sacks with 6.5.
  11. Watt is tied with teammate, inside linebacker Vince Williams, for the most tackles for loss with 12.
  12. Watt has the most quarterback hits with 21.
  13. Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt and outside linebacker Bud Dupree are tied with Emmanuel Ogbah for eighth-most sacks with 6.0.
  14. Tuitt has the second-most quarterback hits with 17.
  15. Thanks to Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs’ two interceptions last week, he is now tied for the eighth-most in the NFL.
  16. Diggs’ 10 pass breakups are tied with Jessie Bates and Jaylon Johnson for fourth-most in the league.
  17. The Cowboys defense has given up 63 missed tackles, the fifth-most in the NFL.
  18. Pittsburgh is actually fifth in the NFL in blitzing at 116 times.
  19. The Steelers have generated the most pressures in the NFL with 96.
  20. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 101.8 passer rating against the Cowboys defense, the eighth-highest in the NFL.
  21. The Cowboys defense has given up 5.1 yards per carry, the third-highest in the league.
  22. The Dallas defense gives up the most rushing yards per game at 170.9.
  23. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled an 80.9 passer rating against the Steelers defense, the third-lowest in the league.
  24. The Steelers have given up 96.9 rushing yards per game, the fifth-lowest in the league.
  25. Pittsburgh’s defense gives up 4.0 yards per carry, tied with the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers for seventh-lowest in the NFL.
  26. Pittsburgh is tied with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots for fifth-most takeaways with 13.

The Cowboys are 4-4 on Nov. 8. Here are the results:

  • 1964 – @NYG, 31-21 – W
  • 1970 – @NYG, 20-23 – L
  • 1987 – @DET, 17-24 – L
  • 1992 – @DET, 37-3 – W
  • 1998 – NYG, 16-6 – W
  • 1999 – @MIN, 17-27 – L
  • 2009 – @PHI, 20-16 – W
  • 2015 – PHI, 27-33 – L-OT

The Steelers are 6-5-1 on Nov. 8. Here are the results:

  • 1936 – @DET, 3-28 – L
  • 1942 – @DET, 35-7 – W
  • 1953 – @CLE, 16-34 – L
  • 1959 – DET, 10-10 – T
  • 1964 – @CRD, 30-34 – L
  • 1970 – NYJ, 21-17 – W
  • 1981 – @SEA, 21-24 – L
  • 1987 – @KC, 17-16 – W
  • 1992 – @BUF, 20-28 – L
  • 2010 – @CIN, 27-21 – W
  • 2015 – RAI, 38-35 – W
  • 2018 – CAR, 52-21 – W

The Cowboys have two birthdays to celebrate on Nov. 8:

  • 1960 – John Warren, P, 1983-84
  • 1963 – Johnny Holloway, DB, 1986

Did you know that the Cowboys shared the same division with the Steelers from 1961 to 1966? Share your favorite facts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.