The Dallas Cowboys had to claw their way back after an ugly first half, but when all was said and done at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, they came away with an improbable 24-20 victory to advance in the NFC Playoffs.
The Lions came out fast, scoring on their opening drive of the game on a touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Golden Tate for 51 yards. Back in his hometown of Dallas, Stafford was impressive on the day, finishing 28 of 42 for 323 yards and a touchdown.
On Detroit’s second drive, the Dallas defense looked like they had forced a three-and-out, but Dekoda Watson was flagged for running into the punter, giving the Lions new life. They promptly marched down the field, allowing Reggie Bush to score on an 18-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14-0 Lions.
The Cowboys offense struggled through most of the first half, with Tony Romo looking off, DeMarco Murray struggling to find any room to run and Dez Bryant struggling to get involved at all. When the home team did finally get on the scoreboard, it was on a 76-yard strike from Tony Romo to Terrance Williams to close the gap to 14-7.
Lions kicker Matt Prater added a 39-yard field goal with just three seconds left in the half to extend the margin to 17-7.
Prater made a 37-yarder to extend the Detroit lead to 20-17 in the third quarter, but the Cowboys embarked on a comeback after that.
After struggling to sustain any offense all day, the Cowboys drove 80 yards late in the third quarter, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Murray. Bailey, after missing a field goal attempt in the third quarter, hit a 51-yarder in the fourth quarter to get Dallas to within three at 20-17.
Romo hit Williams for their second touchdown connection of the day to give the Cowboys their first lead of the day, 24-20. They wouldn’t give it up.
DeMarcus Lawrence recovered a Stafford fumble on the second play of the Lions’ drive, but tried to run with it and had it stripped. It could’ve been a disastrous rookie mistake, but with the Lions in Dallas territory a minute later, Lawrence redeemed himself with a strip-sack that he himself recovered--and didn’t try to return--to cement the Cowboys’ 24-20 comeback win.
Romo finished 19 of 31 passing for 293 yards and two touchdowns and, against perhaps the best rushing defense in the league, DeMarco Murray managed 75 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
The Cowboys will face the Packers in Green Bay next week.
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