Every week, we'll grade the Cowboys on the three phases of the weekend's game.
Hey, it wasn't pretty. But that is rarely the case when a team is playing the Detroit Lions and their physical, top-notch defense. The Lions' defensive front gave the Cowboys all kinds of fits early in the game and sacked Tony Romo six times on the day, but Romo & Co. persevered and came up with a huge play in the final minutes to give the Cowboys a win. There were no turnovers, and DeMarco Murray rushed for a hard-earned 75 yards on 19 carries. Terrance Williams had a huge game, as did Cole Beasley. And Jason Witten's reception on fourth-and-6 on the final drive was as clutch as it gets.
Early on, it looked like the Cowboys had no answer for Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate, much less Calvin Johnson. Reggie Bush had a highlight-reel touchdown run, and Stafford shook Tyler Patmon on a third-and-long as the Lions took a quick 14-0 lead. After that, the Cowboys' defense looked like the '85 Bears. The Lions scored just two field goals over the final three quarters as the front seven applied a ton of pressure and came up with three turnovers (really only two if you don't count DeMarcus Lawrence's fumble recovery-turned-fumble lost). The Cowboys had just three sacks, but the pressure on Stafford was much more than that. Most importantly, perhaps, they held Johnson to just 85 yards on five grabs.
Special teams: C+
Dan Bailey has suddenly become not-so-automatic as he missed a seemingly easy field goal with the Cowboys desperate for points. But there was no bigger flub than the failed blocked punt that resulted in a running-into-the-kicker penalty for a Lions' first down on a drive where they eventually scored. That's inexcusable. One positive from this unit was the punt and kickoff coverage, led by CJ Spillman, who has turned into quite the special-teamer.