The Dallas Cowboys 20-19 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 17 will probably go down as one of the more controversial wins in the entire league this year. There will no doubt continue to be a lot of "he said, she said" conversations for the foreseeable future about the ending of this game, but that doesn't change the fact Dallas ended up improving to 11-5 on the season and remained undefeated playing at AT&T Stadium this year.
The outcome of this game may or may not have been aided by NFL officiating, but this Week 17 matchup with the Lions was, without a doubt, an intense one from start to finish. Because of that, there was probably an equal amount of good, bad, and ugly throughout this game for the Cowboys, but for today we're only going to identify and discuss one from each category.
THE GOOD - CeeDee Lamb's historic night
There wasn't any doubt CeeDee Lamb was going to make Cowboys history in Week 17 against the Lions, but not many foresaw he'd put together arguably the best performance of his entire career. No. 88 was pretty much Dallas' entire offense on Monday Night Football on a Saturday. He set the tone early and often, and if not for his unfortunate fumble that resulted in a touchback, his game would've been pretty much flawless. With Michael "The Playmaker" Irvin in attendance, and several other former Cowboys greats, Lamb put on a show that very well could have put him back in Offensive Player of the Year conversations.
Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb set single-season franchise records for receptions and receiving yardage with his Saturday night performance (13 receptions, 227 yards, 1 TD on a 92-yard play) and was immediately issued a drug test by the NFL.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) December 31, 2023
(via @_CeeDeeThree) pic.twitter.com/X9QnR4065a
THE BAD - Mike McCarthy's game management
Mike McCarthy's end of the game decisions nearly cost the Cowboys the game and probably should have. After what should've been a game sealing INT by Donovan Wilson with 2:05 left, Dallas had the ball at Detroit's 29-yard line. The Lions had two timeouts and all the Cowboys had to do was bleed the clock and kick a field goal. Detroit ended up using their final timeout before Brandon Aubrey's FG, but McCarthy's poor play-calling only ran roughly 30 seconds off the clock, leaving the Lions with 1:41 to work with. They then drive the field, score the TD, and the controversial two-point attempts happen.
Yes, the phantom penalty on Peyton Hendershot made the sequence much more difficult, but the Cowboys choice to throw deep on second down gave the Lions around 40 more seconds than they should have had. Detroit scored their touchdown with 23 seconds left. Poor work by McCarthy.
That is some of the worst late game clock management I have ever seen. Dan Campbell's fearlessness saved Mike McCarthy.#DallasCowboys— Mac Engel (@MacEngelProf) December 31, 2023
THE UGLY - DeMarcus Lawrence and Co. effect on Lions offense
The Dallas Cowboys defense came to play in Week 17 against the Detroit Lions. They played with a renewed energy and intensity we haven't seen from them over the last several weeks, which hopefully continues moving forward. It wasn't always pretty though, but it was enough to get job the done thanks to a large part monster performances from players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Jourdan Lewis, and Donovan Wilson. As a unit, they may have allowed one of the best offensive units in the league to gain a total of 420 yards (295 passing, 125 rushing) and two touchdowns, but it was more than enough to secure the victory despite Mike McCarthy doing his best to gift wrap it for the Lions at the end of the game.
DeMarcus Lawrence and Donovan Wilson are playing fantastic.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) December 31, 2023