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10 thoughts on the Cowboys 20-19 Saturday night thriller over the Lions

The Dallas Cowboys returned to their winning ways and we have some thoughts about how they got the win against Detroit

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys pulled off a close one with a thrilling 20-19 win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night. They remain in the NFC East race as we all are still crossing our fingers for one more loss by the Philadelphia Eagles. It wasn’t the shootout we were expecting, but it did go back and forth and had no shortage of excitement. Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys win against the Lions.


When Donovan Wilson jumped in front of Sam LaPorta for the pick, it felt like all she wrote for the Lions, but little did we know what lay ahead. The Cowboys' offense only took 24 seconds off the clock leaving the Lions plenty of time for one final drive, and boy did they make it count. The Lions drove 75 yards on nine plays for the game-tying touchdown, only Dan Campbell had no interest in going for the tie. After a successful two-point conversion was negated by an illegal touch penalty, the Lions came up short, giving the Cowboys the victory.


There weren’t too many bright spots on offense, but there was one gleaming star in the form of CeeDee Lamb. The Cowboys receiver had 13 catches for 227 yards, breaking Michael Irvin’s single-season record for both catches and yards. And like Irvin, Lamb did it in just 16 games.

The Lions had no answer for Lamb and he was everywhere. We predicted that Lamb could go off for 200 in our 5 things to watch preview piece as there are plays to be had against this Lions secondary and Lamb didn’t disappoint.


The Cowboys ended up winning, but it was still frustrating to say the least. The offense struggled to run the ball averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. Again and again, Mike McCarthy called first-down runs with the Lions' defense on top of it resulting in tackles for a loss. It felt like they were put in 2nd-and-12 situations all night, asking the offense to overcome these negative down and distances. Sometimes they did, others they didn’t.

And then, when the Cowboys actually should’ve been running the ball to churn a little clock, they were airing out passing plays. Down the stretch, the Cowboys had two separate drives to ice the game but called passing plays, and some of them didn’t seem like they had a chance, so Prescott just threw the ball out of bounds. The clock management was very bad and it almost ended up costing the Cowboys the game.


Trailing 3-0 late in the first quarter, the Cowboys were facing a third down deep in their own territory. It looked like the Lions linebacker had Dak Prescott dead to rights for what would’ve been a safety, but surprisingly just brushed right by him. Prescott was able to escape the pressure and threw a 92-yard bomb to CeeDee Lamb for a touchdown. What a turn of events as this ended up being a nine-point swing in the game.


The Cowboys' struggle deep in the red zone has been so regular that it was the topic of our After Further Review breakdown last week. And after last week’s fumble at the one-foot line, you’d think it couldn’t get any worse. Wrong. This week they fumbled even deeper as Lamb lost control of the ball and it rolled into and then out of bounds for a touchback. It’s beyond laughable how many times this team has shot itself in the foot deep in the red zone this season.


The long touchdown was one of several plays where Prescott took matters into his own hands. There didn’t seem to be many open receivers at first glance and oftentimes Dak took off scrambling to make the play. It worked. Prescott finished the game 26/38 with 345 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. It’s not ideal to constantly have your quarterback improvising plays, but if that’s what it takes we’ll take it.


The final few minutes weren’t the only moments of craziness in this game. There was a sequence of events in the second quarter that went back and forth.

After the Lewis interception, the Cowboys were looking to capitalize when Lamb fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. The defense held the Lions to a three-and-out, only to have the drive extended when Detroit pulled off a fake punt. The Lions then drove down inside the Cowboys' five-yard line, but big tackles by DeMarcus Lawrence and Donovan Wilson coupled with the pass rush of Micah Parsons forced them to turn the ball over on downs.


We can’t say enough about how well Jourdan Lewis has been playing down the stretch. Last week he made big plays both in the run game and against the pass. He was at it again on Saturday with pass breakups and physical takedowns. And he made a big splash play when he jumped a Jared Goff screen pass for an interception. Several defensive players made big plays in this game, but it’s starting to become a regular thing for Lewis.


There’s been a lot of talk about where Micah Parsons should be playing as he can help in so many different ways. Parsons made his presence felt all over the field. He was his typical pressure-creating pass rusher, but he also did a good job on the edge against the run. He would lurk and then blaze through creases where Lions blockers weren’t quick enough to pick him up. This led to multiple tackles for losses for Parsons. Both David Montgomery and Jamyr Gibbs had some nice runs, but they were also bottled up at times too. The Cowboys seem to be doing a better job against the run of late and Parsons is a big part of that.


It almost didn’t happen, but the Cowboys will finish the season undefeated at home, with a perfect 8-0. They only scored half as many points as what they’ve averaged on the season, but it was just enough to get the job done.

Speaking of perfect, Brandon Aubrey knocked down two more field goals (51 and 43 yards), making him a perfect 35 for 35 on the season. Only Mike Vanderjagt has made more field goals in a season while remaining perfect. Aubrey has that bonus 17th game to attempt to change that next Sunday.

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