Well, there you have it. The Cowboys rebounded from a terrible offensive performance and looked as good as they have all year en route to a 26-24 win. Here are the five plays that played the biggest part in the win.
Dak gets on the Swaim Train for 31 yards
After the Lions pinned the Cowboys at their own ten yard line to start the drive, Dallas’ first play call was a play action bootleg that saw Dak hit Geoff Swaim on the run, who took it up field for 31 yards.
This play set the tone for the entire drive, which later saw a huge pass to Michael Gallup that helped set up a Brett Maher field goal to draw first blood. It also made the Lions defense respect the pass game more, as Prescott and this passing offense has struggled mightily recently.
Dak throws a 38 yard touchdown to.... Zeke? Gasp!
Down 10-6 and with under two minutes in the first half, the Cowboys were moving the ball and reached the Detroit 38 yard line. Dallas drew up a screen play for Ezekiel Elliott, who many have been calling for more involvement in the passing game, and the star running back took it to the house to give Dallas a 13-10 lead going into the half.
Jaylon Smith helps DeMarcus Lawrence get his second sack of the day
On their first offensive drive of the third quarter, the Lions faced a third and four and needed to avoid going three and out. Stafford, who had been nearly impossible to pressure so far, got sacked by Tank Lawrence. But watch Jaylon Smith at the snap.
2nd sack for #Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence. He uses the cross-chop to defeat the RT's hands before running the hoop for the sack. Interior pressure from Jaylon Smith gets the assist. Look at the power Jaylon creates on contact. pic.twitter.com/m0aRyb6RaE— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 1, 2018
The way in which Smith fakes his head backwards tricks Stafford just enough to allow the linebacker to blitz effectively and shrink the pocket for Lawrence to do his thing. And as a result, the Cowboys got the ball back after making Detroit go three and out.
Dak finds the Swaim Train again, this time for six
After getting the ball back due to Lawrence’s sack, the Cowboys offense once again started moving the ball effectively. It began with a huge 41-yard carry for Elliott and came startlingly close to ending after a goal line fumble from Elliott that, due to an obscure fourth down fumble rule, was recovered by the Cowboys at the one-yard line.
The very next play was a well-timed play-action pass that resulted in a nice lob to Geoff Swaim in the corner of the end zone for Swaim’s first career touchdown reception. It put the Cowboys up 20-10 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Dak hits Zeke for another big gain, sets them up for the win
After the Lions went down and scored a touchdown to take a 24-23 lead, the Cowboys got the ball back with two minutes and seventeen seconds left. After a few plays to progress the ball to Dallas’ own 41 yard line, Prescott effortlessly tossed this dime to Ezekiel Elliott.
The pass play went for 34 yards and placed the ball at Detroit’s own 25 with under a minute to go. It allowed the Cowboys to run the clock down for their game winning field goal attempt.
BONUS: Brett Maher wins the game, probably saves the season, and justifies the Joneses
Of course, Maher went ahead and put the 38-yard field goal right down the middle to seal the victory. He also probably saved the season, as a 1-3 start would have effectively kill it. And after all the heat Jerry and Stephen Jones took for cutting Dan Bailey, the season being saved by Maher had to be the cherry on top. Now all we need is the Titanic music dubbed over this: