It appears the Week 9 clash between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers was all about one side derailing what the other side thought would happen. Entering as massive two-touchdown underdogs and expected to be eviscerated on their own field, the 2-6 Cowboys instead gave the 7-0 Steelers the game of their life before ultimately falling in a 24-19 nail biter, thanks in large part to JuJu Smith-Schuster coming alive in the fourth quarter.
Quiet for much of the game, the flashy Pro Bowl wide receiver grabbed a pass from Ben Roethlisberger at the start of the final session and maneuvered his way past two defenders to score his lone touchdown on the day and shrink the Steelers deficit to just four points. He'd then pop up immediately and make a beeline to midfield, having plans to mimic the well-known Terrell Owens celebration in 2000 -- when Owens ran to the Star logo and posed before being leveled by safety George Teague -- but Smith-Schuster's plan was interrupted when defensive end Randy Gregory slapped the ball out of his hands.
Still determined, the Smith-Schuster picked up the ball and began sprinting to midfield anyway, only to see defensive lineman Antwaun Woods patrolling, waiting for him to give it a shot. A former teammate of Woods at USC, Smith-Schuster ultimately decided against his original plan -- having admitted after the game that mirroring Owens is exactly what he was setting up to do.
Having seen Smith-Schuster sneak away to do a pre-game Tik Tok dance on the Star at midfield, before the Cowboys took the field, Woods was on red alert for the celebration attempt during the game.
"I saw a video before the game that had him on the star," Woods told media following the game. "He's always doing stuff on TikTok. I knew with him being my college teammate that was something he might do. I was going to make sure he didn't get there.
"We have zero tolerance for that."
Smith-Schuster instead did the celebration at the 20-yard line, uninterrupted.
For his part, despite the celebration not taking place at midfield, Owens enjoyed it.
"I see ya JuJu!!!" tweeted the Hall of Fame receiver. "Let em know!!!"
Smith-Schuster ended the game with a team-high 93 receiving yards and became the go-to for Roethlisberger, along with tight end Eric Ebron, both helping to keep the Steelers undefeated going into Week 10. The Cowboys defense, which has been historically bad in 2020, played with fire and discipline for the second consecutive week -- the last two losses being more attributable to the struggling offense and carousel of quarterbacks following the season-ending injury to Dak Prescott.
They forced the Steelers into the lowest point tally of the season and nearly shocked the world in the process, but almost doesn't count, and all involved understand that fact. But if Gregory and Woods couldn't will their team to a win in Week 9, for them, the least they could do is protect the Star.