The Dallas Cowboys had scored 21 unanswered points to take a fourteen-point lead into the fourth quarter. They had suffered injuries along their already depleted defensive line, as well as to all pro left tackle Tyron Smith. Darren McFadden was in at running back. Surely Dallas was coasting now, right?
Nope. After a big run from Darren McFadden, Dallas was moving the football again. And, again, for reasons unclear, Detroit chose to leave Dez Bryant in single coverage. There is a safety on Dez’s side, but he’s way too close to the line to be effective on anything but a slant. They are guessing here, but the whole strength of the Cowboys is something called "Magician’s Force": they can make you wrong no matter what you guess.
Dak is looking at Jason Witten all the way, here. Just look at the effect on the defense. Despite the fact that three guys are already converging on Witten’s route, our erstwhile safety is watching and, more importantly, leaning. As an aside, watch what the Witten love does for Cole Beasley.
As Dak snaps back and throws to Dez, the defender reacts, but it’s far too late. On the other side of the field, Cole Beasley would not be this open had Dak gone to him, but he would have a big gain and possibly a touchdown himself. Dallas has too many weapons for any one to have the kind of focus Witten is getting from the defense here.
Touchdown, Dez Bryant. "Unstoppable," I tell my father.
He agrees, "when he’s single covered he’s open." And he’s right, but it takes an accurate throw. Dak has settled down again and started making those (as I noted he had earlier against Baltimore). When Prescott throws with accuracy and anticipation as he did against the Lions, this offense is, like Dez, unstoppable.
Gregory lines up wide, outside the tight end. Matt Stafford sees something here and adjusts the play.
Sean Lee tells Randy Gregory to move inside. This will be an important couple of yards later.
At the snap, Gregory is now rushing off the left tackle (blue circle), who leaves him unblocked in search of second-level prey. The Lions had some success leaving Gregory unblocked at the line and hitting him with a wham block from across the formation. They went with a similar concept here, but forgot a piece. Notice the complete absence of Lions running across the backfield to interfere with Gregory’s free release.
Approximately one second later. "Hello, Gregory!"
Finish the fight
The Dallas defense wasn’t done, however. The Lions put together a bit of a drive. David Irving put together an answer. While he has made many clamor for his promotion to starting LDE (with which I agree) and he has made many plays from that position, we shouldn’t overlook his inside value as well. He finished this game off from the 3-tech spot.
Irving steps hard to the outside.
But ends up in a wrestling match with BTB’s favorite Gavin Escobar replacement, Larry Warford, who out weighs him by 49 lbs. This should be game, set and match to the much bigger Warford. Look at Irving’s weight distribution, however. Grapplers may see what’s about to happen.
Irving uses his body to pull Warford off balance and then sheds him easily. Stafford, eyes downfield, hasn’t noticed. This is, clearly, bad for Detroit.
There’s no way for me to show you the impressive cornering ability and quickness Irving has without an animated GIF so I end this, uncharacteristically, with video. This is unbelievable explosion for a 280 lb man. In the words of old friend Neithan20000, "look at that bend!"
This game was well in hand by this point. No one on that field had to compete this hard. But that’s what Dallas does. What Jason Garrett has created is a team of guys that go play football. Trying to make each snap the best it can be, regardless of opponent, location, or situation. They love the fight. They will finish it.