The Dallas Cowboys offense looked just fine in the team’s win over the Detroit Lions on Monday night. Over the course of the game they put up 42 points, scoring 21 in each half. For a while, it looked like it might not be enough. The Lions offense matched the Cowboys in the first half, scoring 21 points and creating a tied contest at halftime.
Not only were the Lions scoring points, but they were running the ball with authority on Dallas. The Cowboys came into the game as the best rushing defense in the league, allowing only 80 yards a game. The Lions came into the game as one of the worst rushing offenses in the league. They certainly didn’t look that way in the first half. Lions running back Zach Zenner has 62 yards rushing in the first half. Zach Zenner! The Lions had three rushing touchdowns in the first half. The Lions didn’t turn the ball over at all. They punted twice but scored three times.
At that point, you would not have been crazy to think maybe the good play by the Cowboys defense, especially over the past month, was just a mirage. They had given up 21 points in a half when they average only 18 points allowed in a game. This certainly wasn’t the way they wanted to go into the playoffs.
Then everything changed. Whatever happened in the Cowboys locker room at halftime was the tonic they needed.
The Cowboys completely shut down the Lions rushing game in the second half. After getting scorched in the first half, the Lions only ended up with 90 yards rushing on the night. The Cowboys made the Lions one-dimensional, then they started getting after Matthew Stafford. They sacked Stafford three times in the second half. The put him under a lot of pressure. They got an interception and they also forced a fumbled that they recovered to snuff out a drive in the redzone. And in case you didn’t do the math, the Cowboys defense pitched a shutout in the second half.
It’s hard to know exactly why the Lions had so much success in the first half, and almost none in the second half without going to the film. It could be scheme, it could just be effort. Whatever it was, it’s good to know that the Cowboys defense is still capable of playing a major role in a game in a good way.