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Shutdown Corner

Cowboys stay alive in crazy NFC playoff race with an overtime win over Pittsburgh

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

When the Cowboys were rebuilding their secondary this offseason, they dropped $50.1 million over five years on cornerback Brandon Carr.

That's a lot of money, but, what's being in a playoff race worth?

Carr's interception and return to the 1-yard line set up Dallas' game-winning field goal in overtime, giving the Cowboys a 27-24 victory over Pittsburgh and adding another contender to what is turning into a jumbled, beautiful mess of a NFC playoff picture.

[Also: Fantasy owners rue leaving WR James Jones on the bench this week]

With two weeks left in the season, the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins are all 8-6 and tied atop the NFC East. Whoever doesn't win the East will be in the heart of the wild-card race. Seattle, which could still win the NFC West, is leading that race at 9-5 but has a difficult game against the 49ers next week. Five teams in the NFC are exactly 8-6 -- Dallas, New York, Washington, Chicago and Minnesota. There are nine teams that are at least two games over .500 in the NFC and alive for the six playoff spots the conference will give out.

The Cowboys finish with a home game against New Orleans and a road game at Washington. Dallas has come from way behind to get back in the race. The Cowboys have won five of six, and the last four wins have all come by less than a touchdown.

Dallas showed a lot of toughness to pull out the win over the Steelers. The Cowboys scored with 3:08 left to tie the game. In overtime, the Steelers won the coin toss, and on the second play from scrimmage Carr made a play that may end up defining the Cowboys' season.

[Also: Packers run mindless trick play against Bears, win anyway]

Carr dove in front of a pass intended to Mike Wallace. While Carr picked off the pass, Wallace momentarily quit on the play, allowing Carr to get up and work his way 36 yards down the field to the 1-yard line. It was a fantastic play by a cornerback who is paid to be among the best in the league. After Tony Romo centered the ball in the middle of the field on first down, Dan Bailey kicked a field goal on the next play.

With that, the NFC had another viable entrant in its wild playoff race.

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