The Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions by a score of 24-6. For most of the game, it was pretty close as neither team wanted to score a touchdown in the first half. When the touchdowns finally came, they all came from the Cowboys' offense, so that was satisfying. This game didn’t feature the offensive explosion we were hoping for with Dak Prescott back and the Lions' defense being terrible, but they got it done when it counted. Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys' pull-away win over the Lions.
1. Lethargic early
Mike McCarthy’s decision to take the ball first after winning the coin toss may not have been popular, but made some sense. The sooner they can get Dak Prescott comfortable, the better, and why not get him out there right away? Unfortunately, the Cowboys' offense went three-and-out on their first two possessions. Prescott missed a wide-open Noah Brown on the first play from scrimmage that could have resulted in a big gain. Two plays later, the drive stalled when Prescott was sacked.
2. Taking chances
There’s a clear difference in the offensive approach with Prescott at quarterback versus Cooper Rush. The team was airing it out more and taking more shots downfield. While it’s nice to see them going for explosive plays, there were a couple of passes that were thrown into coverage. The Cowboys were fortunate that these passes weren’t picked off as the Lions’ defenders were in a perfect position to come away with the interceptions, but just couldn’t hold on to the ball.
3. Make up your mind, Mike!
As bold as it was to try to get Dak in a rhythm early, it was equally puzzling to see McCarthy overrule Kellen Moore down at the goal line. Initially, the Cowboys were set to go for it on fourth and short near the goal line in an attempt to cap off an impressive drive. Apparently, McCarthy must’ve not liked the play Moore had in mind because the next thing you know the Cowboys called a timeout only to send their field goal unit out on the field.
It was an odd move by the head coach. It’s hard to believe that he went from having confidence in his offense to suddenly not having confidence in them. McCarthy continues to pull the reins on his offensive coordinator.
4. Flipp’n Noah
The Cowboys had a great opportunity to score late in the first half after going 74 yards in just over two minutes. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get the last six as they turned over the ball near the goal line. Noah Brown made a great catch inside the ten, only to get turned head over heels. Sadly, Brown lost control of the ball before he hit the ground, allowing the Lions' defense to pounce. The Cowboys were in a prime position to score a touchdown late in the half, but instead came away with nothing and remained trailing the Lions 6-3 at halftime.
5. How did Turpin not score?
There was a moment where Cowboys fans were screaming when KaVontae Turpin got loose on a punt return. Turpin fielded the ball at the 10-yard line, juked the first defender, and then took off. Unfortunately, he cut inside trying to evade the punter and that allowed the last Lions defender to catch him.
Despite starting at the Lion’s 40-yard line, the Cowboys' offense couldn’t muster any points. In fact, they went backward and then just punted the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. What a waste.
6. No touchdown for you!
It looked like the Lions would retake the lead when tight end Brock Wright took a short pass down near the goal line. At first, it looked like he go in for the touchdown, but replay showed his knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line. On the very next play, running back Jamaal Williams lost control of the ball, and the Cowboys' defense recovered inside the one-yard line. Detroit squandered a great chance to get a touchdown.
7. Sam I am
The Cowboys' second-round pick Sam Williams had a nice game. He picked up his first-ever NFL sack and then followed it up with a great tackle for a loss on a running play. As the broadcast crew mentioned, he should have been called for a personal foul penalty as he body-slammed the ball carrier.
Williams struck again late in the fourth quarter when he just flat-out took the ball from Jared Goff. It was his second sack of the game and put the nail in the coffin for the Lions.
8. The two-headed monster
A solid running game is a good way to help a quarterback ease back into action, and the Cowboys had that going for them on Sunday. They didn’t have inflated rushing numbers as Ezekiel Elliott had 15 carries for just 57 yards while Tony Pollard added 83 yards on 12 attempts. Both of them had some nice runs as Zeke showed off his toughness and even jumped over a defender after coming out of the game briefly with a leg injury. Elliott scored two of the Cowboys' three touchdowns on the day.
9. Third-down struggles
It wasn’t a great showing for the Cowboys' offense on the money down as they finished the game just 3-for-9 on third down. The team would repeatedly come up short, and what was more frustrating is that they couldn’t convert in short-yardage situations. Both Elliott and Pollard had to bounce outside on a third-and-short play only to be run down before making it to the sticks. The Cowboys will need to get better in these situations going forward.
10. Takeaway city!
The Cowboys' defense is great at a lot of things, but taking the ball away isn’t one of them this season. Entering the week, they only had seven total turnovers, ranking them 19th in the league. Well, that’s going to change now.
The defense took the ball away five times on Sunday. Granted, some of it was just sloppy play by the Lions' offense, but the Cowboys' defense did a lot to help themselves. Trevon Diggs and Jourdan Lewis both had interceptions. Micah Parsons and the before-mentioned Sam Williams both had a sack/strip.