• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Cowboys hold off Lions’ comeback in wild finish


Dec 31, 2023 #Sports


ARLINGTON, Texas — A late penalty on a 2-point conversion and a Donovan Wilson interception helped the Dallas Cowboys keep their NFC East hopes alive with a 20-19 win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday.

On a night when receiver CeeDee Lamb broke the franchise’s single-season receptions and receiving yards records, Dallas kept pressure on the Philadelphia Eagles, who play their Week 17 game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, moving a half-game behind them in the standings.

The Lions could have put pressure on the Eagles and San Francisco 49ers for the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC with a win, but they’ll need help now after falling a half-game behind both for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Here’s how the night breaks down for each team:

Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

Coach Mike McCarthy called the three-game stretch at the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins before hosting the Lions, “playoff games without playoff consequences.”

By beating the Lions, the Cowboys showed they have a chance to win playoff games with consequences. Maybe not enough to end the franchise’s Super Bowl drought, but they have time to figure that out.

The Cowboys remain alive in the NFC East race, forcing Philadelphia to keep winning. They ended a two-game losing streak that raised questions about their viability and finished 8-0 at AT&T Stadium this season.

Quarterback Dak Prescott and Lamb were nearly unstoppable (13 catches, 227 yards), and receiver Brandin Cooks was clutch in the fourth quarter. On defense, cornerback Jourdan Lewis and safety Donovan Wilson intercepted Jared Goff in the second half, covering for a run defense that still showed some leaks.

The defense nearly imploded late, allowing a touchdown with 23 seconds left, but it survived thanks to an illegal touching penalty that wiped out a go-ahead 2-point conversion before a Micah Parsons offside penalty negated an interception. On the third attempt, the Lions came away with an incompletion.

Why was the win important? The Cowboys have never had a three-game losing streak and made it to a Super Bowl.

Describe the game in two words: There’s no need for two, just one: Wild. There was a 92-yard touchdown after a near safety, a fake punt by Detroit for a first down, a fourth-and-goal stop for the Dallas defense, Lamb tying the team mark for catches in a season on the aforementioned touchdown and setting it later but fumbling through the Detroit end zone.

Troubling trend: Maybe it’s not a trend anymore, but the Cowboys’ run defense continues to have issues. It was better last week against Miami (91 yards) after giving up 266 yards on the ground to Buffalo. But the Lions were able to establish the line of scrimmage, especially to open the third quarter. The Lions ran it nine times with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. Montgomery ended the drive with a go-ahead touchdown, and the Lions had 118 yards on 27 carries. It’s the 10th time the Cowboys have allowed at least 100 rushing yards in a game this season.

Eye-popping stat: Prescott — who went 26-of-38 for 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception — took 5.57 seconds to throw his touchdown pass to Lamb in the first quarter that covered 92 yards. Of course, he needed that much time because he should have been sacked by Derrick Barnes. But he was able to right himself and connect with Lamb for the third-longest offensive play in team history. The only ones longer are the 99-yard touchdown run by Tony Dorsett in 1983 and a 95-yard touchdown catch by Bob Hayes in 1966. — Todd Archer

Next game: at Washington Commanders

Detroit Lions (11-5)

The aggressiveness and gritty style of coach Dan Campbell were in the spotlight as the Lions went toe-to-toe with Dallas on a prime-time stage.

However, the Lions lost their sixth straight game to the Cowboys after Goff nearly led a game-winning drive in the waning seconds before offensive lineman Taylor Decker‘s 2-point conversion reception was nullified by an illegal touching penalty.

The Lions are guaranteed a top-three seed in the playoffs, but a victory could have gone a long way for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Describe the game in two words: Video game. This game had many Madden-like elements with the touchdowns, explosive plays and fourth-down gambles. The game wasn’t a high-scoring affair, but there was no shortage of excitement.

QB breakdown: It wasn’t the greatest passing day for Goff, but he consistently managed the game, going 19-of-34 for 271 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Goff entered Dallas needing 162 passing yards to surpass the 30,000-yard career mark, making him the 53rd player to do so. The milestone came on a 63-yard bomb to Jameson Williams early in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal that put Detroit up 13-10.

Promising trend: Aidan Hutchinson‘s three sacks. The Lions edge rusher had gone two straight games without a sack but was able to get to Prescott three times. Hutchinson certainly hadn’t lost confidence, but he was itching for more sacks, and as one of the leaders of the defense, it’s a good sign entering the regular-season finale and playoffs. — Eric Woodyard

Next game: vs. Minnesota Vikings


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