Tag Archives: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

COWBOYS VS. LIONS GAME TAPE: Jason Garrett press conference | Gameday film study

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Jason Garrett press conference: Gameday breakdown after game film review (18:57)

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media after having a chance to review the tape of Sunday’s Cowboys vs. Lions game (Watch Video | Play Audio)

Garrett discussed:

  • Evaluating physical matchups vs.schematic issues in the loss
  • Assessing the execution issues on defense
  • Brandon Carr vs. Calvin Johnson
  • Addressing Stanford’s fake spike that resulted in a QB sneak TD*
  • What team learned about Dez Bryant from sideline passion expressed
  • What they were trying to accomplish on last play of the game
  • Decision process on 2nd to last possession; close to 2 min warning stage
  • Clock situation due to the Tyron Smith holding call; 45 seconds*
  • Variation from run play called and how it contributed to the holding penalty
  • Staff evaluation on how to counter passrush better with this OL
  • Importance of giving guys like Dez more chances in a game to make plays
  • Finding ways to get the ball to double-covered players, without turnover
  • Continuing to capitalize on single-coverage opportunities
  • Carr’s comment about not expecting DET game to effect his confidence
  • Brian Waters rib, knee, and tricep injuries during the game
  • Brian Waters MRI and status going forward
  • Morris Claiborne hamstring injury, MRI results
  • DeMarco Murray start expectation and last minute decision to sit him out
  • How DeMarco Murray practice reps took away from other backs
  • Assessment on how Randle and Dunbar ran in DET game
  • DeMarco Murray expected to start vs. MIN
  • Miles Austin evaluation and status going forward
  • Declining efficiency issues with offense over past three weeks
  • Desire to be more consistent and execute better offensively in coming weeks
  • Addressing third down conversion issues; keeping drives alive
  • Addressing and learning from large number of mental errors made in game
  • Barry Church injury

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POSTGAME INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | MO down; Church praying; and we’re wondering about Waters

DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys injury report - nurse button

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Barry Church both left with hamstring injuries Sunday. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said today that Church’s isn’t serious, and he should be back this week.

But Jones was more pessimistic about Claiborne’s injury. He said Claiborne could miss a couple of games, which would point toward Claiborne’s return after the bye week in a Nov. 24 game at the Giants.

“Church, his injuries kept him out there a little bit at the end,” Stephen Jones said on KRLD-FM 105.3. “I do think he can recover and get back for the Vikings. Claiborne, on the other hand, has a soft tissue injury there with his hamstring that is a real deal, and probably more than likely we’re looking at him missing the next couple of weeks.”

Claiborne has had a tough season. He dislocated his shoulder in the season opener against the Giants and has played with a harness. He temporarily lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick, though the Cowboys have started several games in the nickel, including Sunday’s at Detroit, with three cornerbacks in the starting lineup.

In three games, Claiborne has come off the bench. He played 33 of 80 plays Sunday, missing the end of the game with his hamstring injury. Church played 64 of 80 plays, with Jakar Hamilton replacing him late in the game because of his hamstring injury.

Jones was not asked about Brian Waters‘ injury, but a source said the Cowboys do not have an update on the offensive guard yet. Waters left with knee, rib and triceps injuries, playing 32 of 57 snaps.

MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: Five plays to think about

MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK - Five plays to think about - Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Dallas Cowboys 2013 schedule

DETROIT – Early, when the Dallas defense was hot the offense was not. Late, when Dez was hot, the defense was not.

With all of the fourth quarter scoring, it’s easy to forget a few plays that changed the course of the game. Here are five, of many, plays that helped determine the game winner:

1. Incomplete to Harris after fumble – Late in the third quarter, the Cowboys led 13-7 and had a first down at the Lions’ 35 following a fumble recovery by Brandon Carr and a penalty on Detroit. Still, the Cowboys never gained a yard and settled for a field goal. On third-and-10, Romo seemingly had Cole Beasley darting over the middle, but went for Dwayne Harris, who also had a step on his defender. The pass went right through Harris’ hands around the 10-yard line, forcing the Cowboys to kick a field goal and keep it a one-score game.

2. Pass interference on Scandrick – The Cowboys led 20-10 with the Lions driving with 10:13 to play. This is a play that really bothered the team’s coaching staff, probably more because of what happened in the first quarter. But Scandrick’s feet got tangled up with receiver Kris Durham, who fell to the ground as the ball passed by. The pass interference penalty resulted in 21 yards to the Cowboys’ 36. Earlier in the game, the Lions were flagged for the same call on a pass to Terrance Williams. However, the officials met and decided to wave off the flag for incidental contact. While Detroit was scoring quickly, an incomplete pass there sets up a must-have third-and-1, and the Lions likely run the ball. Even if they pick up the first, that’s even more time off the clock and Detroit is not at midfield yet.

3. A 54-yarder to Calvin Johnson – Take your pick on big plays to Johnson, who was there all day long. And while this was likely his best catch, it still might be forgotten considering the big plays that occurred afterward. But the Cowboys had just scored again on a 50-yard pass to Dez Bryant. The Lions were down 10 with 6:45 left. Stafford heaves it up for Johnson, who is double-covered by Carr and Heath. But it doesn’t matter, as Johnson hauls in the 54-yarder that puts the Lions in great position again. Detroit used that big play to score with 3:37 left. And with two timeouts, they can kick the ball away and play defense.

4. Incomplete pass to Beasley – If you’re watching close, this play shouldn’t be forgotten. This was arguably the play of the game. The Cowboys have a 20-17 lead with 2:38 remaining and have third-and-12 at their 23. The Lions have just called their first timeout on the previous play. Instead of a draw play or another run that would’ve forced Detroit into taking its second timeout or letting the clock run down to the 2-minute warning, the Cowboys call a pass. Romo rolled to his right after heavy pressure and flung a pass to Beasley, which landed closer to the front row of the seats. Even taking a sack there might have been better off for the Cowboys, who were able to stop the Lions on the next possession. Had they gotten the ball back with 1:24 remaining and Detroit had just one timeout, the game is over with three kneel-downs.

5. Holding on Tyron Smith – The Cowboys lead 27-24 and it’s third down on the 35 of Detroit. At this point, the Cowboys are thinking a safe run to keep the clock rolling. The snap started at 1:14 and without any stoppage, it would’ve rolled down to under 30 seconds. The Cowboys considered punting the ball and try to pin Detroit around their 10 yard line. The Lions had no timeouts and needed to get into field-goal range.  But on the third-down run, left tackle Tyron Smith was flagged for holding. Even though Detroit declined the penalty, the stoppage of play kept the clock from starting. Instead of punting, the Cowboys kicked a field goal to extend the lead. The Lions got the ball back, needing a touchdown with 1:02 to play.

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS: Gameday perspectives from Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions

This is a new feature from The Boys Are Back website. After each game, we’ll provide gameday perspectives from both teams … the winner and the loser. Oddly enough, each team can find highlights and lowlights, win or lose! So, here we go …

FROM THE DETROIT LIONS:

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Detroit Lions postgame press conference - Head coach Jim Schwartz - watch video - button

Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz postgame press conference (9:57)

Jim Schwartz on team’s 31-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Detroit Lions postgame show - watch video - button

Detroit Lions postgame show (36:38)

Detroit Lions postgame show with Tom Leyden and Rob Rubick. Includes coverage from Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Reggie Bush.  (Watch Video | Play Audio)

FROM THE DALLAS COWBOYS:

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys highlight video - watch video - button

Cowboys vs. Lions Highlights (4:35)

Calvin Johnson catches 14 balls for 329 receiving yards and a touchdown to help the Detroit Lions defeat the Dallas Cowboys 31-30 in thrilling fashion (Watch Video | No Audio)

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett postgame press conference - Head coach Jason Garrett - watch video - button

Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference (8:33)

Jason Garrett speaks to the media following the Cowboys loss at Detroit (Video | Audio)

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo postgame press conference - Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo - watch video - button

Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference (6:28)

Tony Romo speaks to the media following the Cowboys loss at Detroit. (Video | Audio)

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones postgame interview - Jerry Jones Dez Bryant - watch video - button

Jerry Jones reacts to Dez Bryant’s sideline frustration (:49)

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks about wide receiver Dez Bryant’s frustration during today’s game against the Detroit Lions. Jerry Jones addressed Bryant’s tirade following the game.

Watch Video | Play Audio


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COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: Detroit Free Press | Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s 1-yard TD caps improbable comeback

COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE - Detroit Free Press - Lions QB Matthew Stafford's 1-yard TD caps improbable comeback

Matthew Stafford was yelling, screaming like his house was on fire, and figuratively it was.

Riley Reiff was 30 yards downfield celebrating what he thought was a game-winning touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson as the precious final seconds ticked off the clock in a game the Detroit Lions couldn’t afford to lose.

Twenty-two, 21, 20 …

Stafford waved his arms maniacally for his starting left tackle, the one playing through a hamstring injury, to get to the line of scrimmage. He motioned with his right arm to spike the ball and told his offensive linemen — everyone within earshot, really — that he was about to do just that.

As Reiff raced into his three-point stance — “I think he probably ran a 4.3,” Reggie Bush said — Stafford surveyed a Dallas Cowboys defense trying to catch its breath, called for the snap from Dominic Raiola, climbed over his center’s back and extended his arms across the goal line as a few stunned linebackers made a last-ditch effort to swat the ball away.

The clock froze at 12 seconds and Stafford booked around left end into the middle of the end zone where he celebrated a touchdown so unexpected he had to explain what happened to several linemen in the locker room after the game with the most ferocious spike you’ve ever seen.

Ballgame. Lions win 31-30. Another amazing comeback complete.

“I told everybody I was spiking it,” Stafford said. “I was screaming clock, I was going to spike it. It was a feel thing. I was yelling, ‘Spike.’ They knew I was yelling spike. I saw linebackers kind of standing like this (back off the line of scrimmage). Our guys didn’t fire off, they just stood up but I looked down and we were that far, shoot I’m going to figure I’ll get that. So I just need to go — shoot, I don’t know, I was making a play, man. I was trying to help my team win and sure am glad I got across.”

Stafford, who now has nine fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, completed 33 of 48 passes for a season-high 488 yards and got plenty of help from Johnson and a costly Cowboys holding penalty that left the Lions enough time for the game-winning drive.

Johnson caught 14 passes for a Lions record 329 yards, the second-highest single-game total in NFL history, and had his way with Dallas’ $10-million-a-year cornerback, Brandon Carr.

He opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown catch and made another of his signature jump-ball grabs amid two defenders, but until the final minute it looked like his heroics might be lost in a crush of Lions turnovers.

Dallas led, 27-24, with 1:24 to play and had a chance to run out the clock after stopping the Lions (5-3) on fourth-and-12 at their own 31.

But DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch stuffed Joseph Randle for a 3-yard loss on first down, Travis Lewis dropped Phillip Tanner for a 1-yard loss on second down, and after the Lions used their final timeout, Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith grabbed Devin Taylor for a holding penalty on third down that stopped the clock with 1:14 to play.

The Lions, who would have got the ball back with about 25 seconds left if not for the penalty, gave up a field goal and started their final drive at their own 20 with 1:02 on the clock.

“Our emotions, we were a little down, we were a little up. I think I experienced just about every emotion possible today,” Bush said. “Guys just keep fighting and then defense gave us a chance. When they got that holding penalty it stopped the clock and that gave us a chance. … Sometimes it just works out that way.”

Stafford completed 4 of 5 passes for 79 yards on the game-winning drive with one spike, and took advantage of a Dallas defense that lost starting safety Barry Church to a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter and played the entire day without its other starter at safety, J.J. Wilcox.

Kris Durham caught a 40-yard pass down the Lions sideline when backup safety Jakar Hamilton, who signed off the practice squad earlier in the week, was late helping Orlando Scandrick, and one play later Johnson split Hamilton and Carr down the right seam for a 22-yard gain to the Dallas 1.

Church said he felt “helpless” watching the final drive, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz said few quarterbacks other than Stafford could have engineered the series.

“We know what we got in him,” center Dominic Raiola said. “I just said earlier, Calvin had a huge day, player of the game and everything, but for Matt to come back and do what he did after what he went through early in the game it’s crazy. … I mean, what can you say about the guy? Love his toughness, love his moxie.”

Stafford threw two interceptions, both to Sean Lee, and all four of the Lions’ turnovers came in Cowboys territory.

Tony Romo completed just 14 of 30 passes for 206 yards for the Cowboys and threw second-half touchdowns of 50 yards to Dez Bryant and 60 yards to Terrance Williams.

Johnson’s 329 yards were the most ever by a receiver in regulation in NFL history. Flipper Anderson had 336 yards receiving in 1989, but 40 of those yards came in overtime.

Courtesy: Dave Birkett | Detroit Free Press

COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: The Detroit News | What a finish! Lions outgun Cowboys

COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE - The Detroit News - What a finish - Lions outgun Cowboys

Detroit — Just another game, huh coach? Just one of 16? Not this one.

“Yeah, I might rethink my mantra on this one,” coach Jim Schwartz said after the Lions staged a thrillingly improbable 31-30 comeback victory against the Cowboys. “This was a big win for us. Going into the bye week at 5-3 instead of 4-4, I don’t care how you look at it, 5-3 is a successful first half of the season.”

The Lions were down 30-24 with 62 seconds left. They were 80 yards away from the winning score with no timeouts.

“People were leaving the stadium,” Calvin Johnson said. “Nobody thought we could pull it off in one minute. But we’ve got some firepower over here.”

Indeed. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (33 for 48, 488 yards and one touchdown) shook off two earlier interceptions and started dissecting the Cowboys’ injury-depleted secondary.

Stafford connected with Johnson for 17 yards, Kris Durham for 40 yards and then Johnson again, splitting two defenders, for 22 yards to put it at the 1 with the clock ticking down inside 15 seconds. Here’s where it got interesting.

First left tackle Riley Reiff, thinking Johnson had scored, was 40 yards behind the play celebrating as Stafford hurried to set the offense.

“He about gave the head coach a heart attack there,” Schwartz said. “He’s going to pay for that somewhere down the line.”

Once set, Stafford called out “spike, spike,” meaning he was going to clock the ball. Everybody on the field, offense and defense alive, thought he was going to spike the ball. Stafford didn’t spike the ball.

“It was a feel thing,” he said. “I was yelling spike. They knew I was yelling spike. I saw their linebackers standing still. Our guys didn’t fire off (the line). They just stood up. But I looked down. We were that far (inches); shoot, I’m going to get that. Just trying to make a play to help us win.”

Stafford stuck the ball over the goal line and for good measure rolled off the stack and ran it in. Replay upheld the winning score.

“He kind of caught us off-guard,” Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher acknowledged.

“This is an amazing win today,” said running back Reggie Bush, who had 92 yards rushing. “It’s a testament to the character of the guys on the team. We kept fighting. I think we made about every mistake possible in that game, but we kept fighting until the end. We just kept telling each other to keep fighting, keep going. Matt was amazing today.”

The Lions became the first team since 2007 to win a game with a minus-four turnover ratio. All four turnovers came in Dallas territory. Stafford threw two interceptions early, both to linebacker Sean Lee. Lee returned the second one 74 yards to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.

Bush fumbled. Johnson fumbled.

The Lions gave up a 60-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Newman and a 50-yard touchdown pass to Bryant – in the fourth quarter.

“Our team has been resilient through a lot of things, and they needed to be today,” Schwartz said. “We certainly didn’t make it easy for ourselves.”

The Lions responded to every punch the Cowboys threw. Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards — the second most in a single game in NFL history.

“He had his way,” Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr said of Johnson. “And, we couldn’t find a way to keep him from rolling.”

“Just wait until he’s 100 percent,” Schwartz joked.

Joique Bell scored on a 1-yard run. Bush had a 1-yard touchdown run set up by a 54-yard pass to Johnson.

Still, with 1:07 left in the game, the Lions looked dead in the water. They were down 27-24. Their previous drive had stalled at their own 31. The timeouts had been exhausted. The Cowboys were called for holding rookie defensive end Devin Taylor on a third-and-14 run play.

That holding call probably saved the day for the Lions because it stopped the clock.

“If we don’t get called for a penalty, I think they probably had 20 seconds or so left,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said.

“We had 40 more seconds than we were planning on at that point,” said Schwartz, who declined the penalty and allowed kicker Dan Bailey to make it 30-24 with a 44-yard field goal. “I thought that was a really key point in the game. Any time you got a minute, you got our offense, we like the odds that we can go put that ball in the end zone.”

Never a doubt, joked Stafford.

“I know it’s a tall order,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was sitting there comfortable in my boots like, ‘Oh, here we go, no timeouts and we got to go 80 against that defense.’ But there’s always a chance. Our guys believed, they battled, they made some great catches and plays.

“We won the game and that’s all that matters now.”

Courtesy: Chris McCosky | The Detroit News | Associated Press contributed

2013 COWBOYS GAME 8 RECAP: Detroit Lions send Dallas Cowboys back to .500

VIDEO - First Take - Postgame video recap and highlights - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

First Take on 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions (2:56)

Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, and Rowan Kavner bring you First Take from the sideline following the Dallas Cowboys loss in Detroit. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


2013 COWBOYS GAME 8 RECAP - Detroit Lions send Dallas Cowboys back to .500

DETROIT – The initial reactions following the Cowboys 31-30 loss to the Lions.

David Helman:  

We called the Kansas City and San Diego losses missed opportunities at the time, but they pale in comparison to this. I could talk about the turnover margin or the inability to stop Calvin Johnson. But my biggest impression is that the Cowboys had the ball and the lead at the end of the game and couldn’t seal the deal. The play calling was incredibly conservative for a team whose defense surrendered a record day to Megatron, and I think it was the difference. As soon as the Cowboys put the game on their defense, I figured it would end poorly. Now it’s back to .500.

Rowan Kavner:

It took until the fourth quarter for it to be the shootout we all expected, but it came in a massive way late in Sunday’s loss. The Cowboys benefitted from the long ball tremendously, with Terrance Williams still defying at least my expectations by scoring in his fourth straight game. Otherwise, it was Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson trading blows with two touchdowns for the former and an unreal 329 receiving yards for the latter.  I thought they’d both surpass the 100-yard mark, though only Johnson did. In the end, the Cowboys did settle for more field goals than the Lions, whose last-minute touchdown sealed the deal. Never before this year have the Cowboys let one slip like this, and all the talk of mediocrity and .500 football will be back on the table again as they dropped to 4-4.

Bryan Broaddus:

Without looking at the film, I thought that Jeff Heath held up well. There were a couple of angles on some routes that he could have taken better and in the 4th quarter in a ball down the middle of the field, to Calvin Johnson, I thought he was in good position to make the play but didn’t. With Heath, you are going to get a player that is always around the ball and will be a physical tackler. I thought he was that today even causing a fumble on Reggie Bush in the open field. He showed some burst and range on the play which is all you can ask from your safety.

Nick Eatman:

I thought the Cowboys would win this game earlier in the week. Once it started, it was clear to me Detroit was better. You can say the Lions stole a game here but I think it would’ve been miraculous for Dallas to pull that out. Of course they had no answer for Calvin Johnson but you didn’t think it’d be a 329-yard day. Then again if you had told me BW Webb, Jeff Heath and Jakar Hamilton would play most of the game, we might have predicted this. Tony Romo wasn’t bad but he wasn’t good. And if your defense is average against the pass and you have no running game, your quarterback can’t be average. Speaking of, that’s your team once again – sitting at 4-4. Halfway home to consistency.

Here we’re the gut feelings for writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Saturday afternoon.

MOTOWN MELTDOWN: Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant flips out

MOTOWN MELTDOWN - Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant rants for rally - Calvin Johnson Brandon Carr

DETROIT – This one’s going to hurt for a while. The Dallas Cowboys blew a great opportunity to pull two games above .500

Here are five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-30 loss today at Ford Field.

1.) It was going to be the biggest Dallas Cowboys victory of the season. But then Matthew Stafford took over and the Lions made one of the more improbable comebacks you’ll see in a while. It’s tough to win on the road back-to-back weeks and the Cowboys almost accomplished that. Jason Garrett always talks about putting the last game behind you and moving forward. That’s going to be easier said than done with this loss.

2.) It’s a broken record but Dez Bryant has to be more involved early in games. If not just for his playmaking ability, to at least keep him from flipping out on Tony Romo on the sidelines. Bryant was very animated in the third quarter after the Cowboys failed to capitalize on the Lions’ fourth turnover. He was visibly frustrated during the final minute as well. Bryant was single-covered on several occasions today and only was targeted four times during the first three quarters. In the fourth, he obviously showed why he needs to be more involved, quickly turning a short pass into a 50-yard touchdown.

3.) Yes, it was a devastating loss, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some positives to take away. For one, Sean Lee was outstanding. If you ever had any doubts about the Cowboys giving Lee a contract extension, Sunday’s performance should be enough to answer all your questions. Lee was fantastic in pass defense, intercepting two Matthew Stafford throws in the first-half. Lee now has 11 interceptions in his short career, which is amazing for a linebacker. As long as he stays healthy, Lee, who also had a team-high 10 tackles, should easily prove to be worth his new deal. And that 2010 draft is looking pretty good for the Cowboys.

4.) Positive No. 2: Terrance Williams has a chance to be really special. And with Miles Austin’s constant hamstring injuries, that’s probably a very good thing. Williams was Romo’s favorite target Sunday. He went to the rookie 10 times. Romo might have to listen to Bryant complain from time-to-time, but the franchise has to like the young playmakers he has on the outside.

5.) Detroit was sloppy with the ball throughout but there’s no doubt that Monte Kiffin’s style has greatly improved this team’s ability to force turnovers. The Cowboys have forced 19 takeaways this season. They had 16 all of last season. Those four takeaways were the biggest reason Dallas should’ve won this game.


MOTOWN MELTDOWN - Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant rants for rally - Tony Romo Jason Witten Jason Garrett

Dez Bryant visibly emotional on sideline in Detroit (:53)

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant went on multiple tirades on the sidelines during the team’s game against the Detroit Lions. (Watch Video | No Audio)


MOTOWN MELTDOWN - Detroit Lions roar past Dallas Cowboys in final seconds; Dez Bryant rants for rally

Dez Bryant explains heated tirade (5:26)

Dallas receiver Dez Bryant speaks to the media following the Cowboys loss at Detroit and talks about what happened on the sideline. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions postgame show

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WHEELS DOWN IN MOTOWN: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions Pregame Preview Primer | Pregame Scouting Report

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Dallas Cowboys On The Road – Pregame Preview (3:03)

Dallas Cowboys beat writers check-in from Detroit Lions turf. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


Dallas Cowboys Detroit Lions

Their Nemesis: DeMarcus Ware

Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, DeMarcus Ware sat out of the game with a quad injury, which was the first time he had missed a game in his career. Management may opt to hold him out one more week. If he’s not ready to go, Kyle Wilber will step into the spotlight, along with Jason Vega.

In five games against the Lions during his career, Ware has notched 64 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. He will be battling Riley Reiff, who is in his second season as the starter at left tackle. Reiff is the type of tackle who Ware tends to have his most success against.

Reiff is not a powerful setter and tends to catch blocks, which allows the defender to get some push on him. Against the Rams, Jake Long set soft and Ware had a field day with him. Reiff is very athletic, which will help him against Ware when he tries to take him wide around the edge. But like we saw with Long, Ware can hit him with a straight bull rush, then play off that. If Reiff feels like he is going to have to deal with power all day, it should help him in other areas of the game.

Our Nemesis: Calvin Johnson

On Sunday, two of the best receivers in professional football will be on the field when the Lions face the Cowboys. As tough as this matchup will be for the Lions to have to cover Dez Bryant, the Cowboys are going to have their own issues dealing with Calvin Johnson.

Both these receivers are so similar in the way they play, you could put Bryant in a Lions uniform and Johnson in a Cowboys uniform and you would not be able to tell the difference. Johnson is as dynamic as it comes for a receiver. He can run his routes anywhere and at any level to find a way to get open. He can separate with his stride, and, no matter where the ball is thrown, he will find a way to make a catch.

He is a powerful player who plays well in the air. Any opportunity to catch a jump ball, it is his. The Lions can line him up either on the outside or in the slot, and he is productive. The closer he gets to the goal line, the more physical he gets. He likes to use his hands to push and shove to by space, and he will not just run fade routes in the red zone — you will see him run the slant as well. He’s one of those receivers that just keeps coming after you down-after-down.

Our Weapon: Dez Bryant

These Lions corners have had to deal with some outstanding receivers this season: Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Garcon, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green. They practice every day against Calvin Johnson, which is a chore in itself, but Dez Bryant will present a different set of challenges for them.

Unless you have lined up and faced Bryant, he is a different cat. Of the two starting cornerbacks for the Lions, I thought that Chris Houston was the better of the two. If Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan decide they want to attack one side of the field, Rashean Mathis is that guy. Mathis does have quickness to run with anyone that he faces, but he is not the most physical of cover guys.

Opponents have had success attacking him inside on routes, and he has done little to fight them from doing that. Naturally, the way that Bryant plays during a game will give him a great deal of problems. When Bryant gets into the flow of a game, and he is out to prove a point, like he will be in this game, physically he will be too much for Mathis to handle.  In two career games against the Lions, Bryant has caught six balls and three of those catches resulted in touchdowns. Expect the same on Sunday.

Their Weapon: Reggie Bush

Bush is a mismatch player in every sense of the word, and he will line up all over the field in order to find the best way to attack the defense. He’s come a long way since his days with the Saints in terms of being a more complete back.

You will see him carry the ball in normal down-and-distance situations with a great deal of effectiveness, and he is not afraid to hammer the ball inside but is better when he can run it off the edge or on a sweep or reverse.

The Lions coaches are creating ways for him to get the ball, because he has more explosive quickness and burst than what the Cowboys faced last week against LeSean McCoy. Where Bush and McCoy are similar is how they are able to catch the ball in space, whether on the screen or the inside “Texas” route.

Bush is one of those players that can score from anywhere on the field at any time, so the Cowboys have to be alert when he is in the game. He’s going to be a handful for Sean Lee and Bruce Carter to have to deal with because of the way he is able to play in space. He’s a very natural football player that has the ability to breakdown a defense in a flash.

Under Their Radar: Drake Nevis

On the game film I was able to study on the Lions, I liked the matchup with DeMarcus Ware vs. Riley Reiff, but also keep an eye on Drake Nevis as a nickel rusher.

Nevis has finally worked himself into shape and has become a solid rotational player for this defensive line. Nevis is playing with far more technique than when I saw him with the Colts this summer. He really only had one move and that was the strong club move that would knock the blocker off balance, then he would rush up the field.

Now you see him doing a better job of using his hands and feet, working together. Where Nevis will have an advantage is working against guard Rob Sims. In watching Sims play, he is all about power and not quick movement. If Nevis is smart, he will not try and rush Sims down the middle but try and play him on the edges and see if he can attack his shoulder.

Nevis and the other Cowboys defensive tackles need to stay active against Sims and make him have to match their movement. The more that they can get him to have to move, the more he will struggle to sustain his blocks. I have seen inside pressure affect Stafford in a big way.

Under Our Radar: Ziggy Ansah

One of the most difficult players to get an idea of where he was going in the 2013 NFL Draft was BYU defensive end, Ziggy Ansah.

When the Lions selected Ansah with the fifth overall selection, there were those that were surprised of how high he went and others that thought the selection was the right one. Ansah is very raw but you can see the talent on tape. 

He is really playing on more natural ability than anything at this point. He is explosive and can quickly get the edge. He is doing a much better job of using pass rush moves as he is working to the quarterback. That has helped him post three sacks this season, and there were times where he was close to getting more. He is a long, rangy player that can play with some surprising power.

Ansah really wants to get up the field as fast as he can, then try and retrace his steps to handle the run. The Detroit Lions have some special packages where he lines up as a defensive tackle, while Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley play as defensive ends.

Ansah will line up across from Tyron Smith in this game, and Smith will need to be ready to handle his up field rush. If Smith is going to have success against Ansah, it will be by getting his hands on him quickly.

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COWBOYS VS. LIONS GUT-CHECK: Dallas can get more separation from the .500 funk in game 8

Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 schedule - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - NFL helmets

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are a game over .500 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East as they travel to Detroit to play another 4-3 team. Both teams have been able to create a lot of turnovers this year and score with the best of them, each sitting in the Top-10 in the league in scoring average.

A Dallas win would give the Cowboys an early stranglehold on the division and get them out of their .500 funk, while a win for the Lions could vault them from second to first in the NFC North.

Here are the gut feelings from beat writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.

Nick Eatman:

Like I’m sure the other guys have, I’ve been back and forth with this one. You see Calvin Johnson highlights and remember plays Reggie Bush has made in the past, and know how tough Ndamukong Suh can be in the middle and it’s hard to think the Dallas Cowboys can win on the road. And it will be hard. But ultimately, I just think (or want to think) this Dallas team will turn the corner and move away from averageville. Something tells me it’s going to happen this week. I think the Cowboys will have to score a lot of points, but against this defense it’s possible. Jason Witten had a big day the last time they played here and I see it happening again. This game will have a lot of fireworks and big plays, but I think the Cowboys will make a few more, including a defensive touchdown, probably from one of the former Lions – Ernie Sims or Justin Durant. Give me Dallas in a fourth-quarter win.

Bryan Broaddus:

As well as J.J. Wilcox has been playing the last couple of weeks and at times during his rookie year, I feel that Jeff Heath will play well as his replacement this week against the Lions. I am not worried about Heath being prepared or the stage being too big for him. He will be aware of his assignments and he will be physical when he is asked to make a play. Where this game will be tough for him is that he plays on the majority of special teams and will be asked to play an entire game. The coaches have confidence in his ability and so should you.

Rowan Kavner

The shootout most people predicted the last two weeks never came to fruition. That finally changes this weekend in Detroit. I expect the teams to total more than 60 combined points this week, with Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson giving everyone the offensive back-and-forth they hoped they’d see. That means both of those players go for at least 100 yards and both get in the end zone. The Cowboys should be more prepared for a back like Reggie Bush after seeing LeSean McCoy, but I think Bush still does more damage in the passing game. I also think Terrance Williams’ three-game scoring streak ends there, but he does come up with a couple momentum-shifting plays. The Cowboys have been great recently in the red zone, but they haven’t proven they can get out of the .500 funk or put together a streak on the road. They end up settling for too many field goals, which makes the difference in a game decided by three points or fewer. 

David Helman:

This game feels like a carbon copy of last week’s. The Dallas Cowboys are going on the road to face an average team with a good quarterback, an elite wide receiver, a dynamic, game-changing running back and a lousy defense. Last week against the Eagles, I predicted the Eagles’ offensive weapons would make up for their bad defense, and they’d get the win. So have I learned my lesson? Not yet. This is a game the Cowboys should win if they’re serious about making the playoffs, but they haven’t done enough to dispel my misgivings. The Lions are good but not great, as they’ve shown in several games this year, but they have home field advantage and the ability to score points. I see Dallas dropping this one largely because of mistakes – maybe a fumble by one of the running backs? If they prove me wrong and grab the win, I’ll be ready to believe they could grab a playoff spot.

X-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON: Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson | The Best Receivers in the NFL

X-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON - Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit's Calvin Johnson - button - Physical measureables

The NFL Draft comparisons … Calvin Johnson has 3 inches and 3 years on Dez BryantX-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON - Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit's Calvin Johnson - button - more measureables

In other Combine/Pro Day measurables, Calvin Johnson is truly an NFL freakX-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON - Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit's Calvin Johnson - button - Game Performances

Both players on the rise, but Dez hasn’t declined at any point in his career

X-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON - Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit's Calvin Johnson - First 50 games

The first 50 games, Dez showing impressive stats … while sharing the Dallas Cowboys spotlight with Miles Austin and Jason Witten. X-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON - Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit's Calvin Johnson - button - Longest TD

While both stats are impressive, Dez Bryant has three years to top Calvin Johnson on this one.

X-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON - Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit's Calvin Johnson - button - Around the League

Both receivers are among the top echelon in the NFL. Dez Bryant belongs in this discussion.

X-FACTOR VS. MEGATRON - Comparison of Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Detroit's Calvin Johnson - button - Recent player quotes

Recent player quotes from Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson


The Jason Garrett Show - Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Dez Bryant X-Factor vs. Calvin Johnson Megatron - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - NFL schedule - Button

The Jason Garrett Show – Megatron vs. X-Factor; Detroit Lions weapons (2:43)

Jason Garrett talks about the matchup between Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson as well as the challenges the Dallas Cowboys face in Detroit. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

2013-2014 GAMEDAY SCOUT: Cowboys vs. Lions | Film Breakdown | Rival press conferences

2013-2014 RIVAL SCOUTING REPORT - Dallas Cowboys rival report on Denver Broncos - Know your enemy button 2013-2014 RIVAL SCOUTING REPORT - Dallas Cowboys rival report on Denver Broncos - Know your enemy button
Film Breakdown Of Ndamukong Suh Film Breakdown Of Calvin Johnson
Watch Video | Play Audio Watch Video | Play Audio

Audio - Jim Schwartz press conference with Dallas Cowboys media - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - button

Jim Schwartz – Monte Kiffin will make life tough for us

Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz speaks to the Dallas media (Watch Video | Play Audio)

Audio - Calvin Johnson press conference with Dallas Cowboys media - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - button

Calvin Johnson – Dez Bryant is pretty good, besides route running

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson speaks to the Dallas media (Watch Video | Play Audio)

COWBOYS VS. LIONS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Friday practice

JASON GARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles – Practice update

Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions road game (8:09)

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media for the final time before heading to Detroit to take on the Lions. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

Garrett discussed:

  • Defensive challenges this season when covering TEs/RBs out of backfield
  • J.J. Wilcox status
  • Thoughts on the current roster at safety positions
  • Jeff Heath’s evolution and potential for him to start
  • Brian Waters conditioning
  • DeMarco Murray evaluation over past few days
  • Difficulty and challenges of back-to-back road games
  • DB Jakar Hamilton standing out on practice squad
  • Pressure in middle vs. pressure on the edge effects QB position
  • Miles Austin physical progress this week
  • Miles Austin mental state with Williams and Beasley emerging
  • LB DeVonte Holloman neck injury recap and prognosis
  • Morris Claiborne illness and prognosis

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HOMECOMING DEBUT: Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath returning to Lions country with a star on his helmet

HOMECOMING DEBUT - Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath returning to Lions country with a star on his helmet - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys roster schedule

IRVING, Texas – Not long after Jeff Heath signed with the Dallas Cowboys, he noticed they were actually playing this season in Detroit, which is located just 39 miles from his hometown of Lake Orion, Mich.

His first thought was how great it’d be if he were on the team and traveling to the game.

But now, it looks like Heath will be doing even better than that. Because of a sprained knee injury to rookie safety J.J. Wilcox, there is a good chance Heath will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Lions, a team whom he grew up following.

And better yet, he’ll have quite a contingent of family and friends there to see him. Heath said this week he’s in the neighborhood of 80 tickets, and that number could grow now with his possibility of starting.

“It’s just a weird coincidence if it happens this week with me going back home,” Heath said. “But you never know when it’s going to be your time and your number gets called. I’m excited about the opportunity.”

While head coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t rule out Wilcox to play, Wilcox himself said it’s unlikely he would play this week and maybe not even next week against the Vikings. Garrett did have some positive things to say about Heath, an undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.

“We certainly like him. He’s done a lot of nice things for us,” Garrett said. “He’s a college free agent who came in and said ‘I’m going to make your football team.’ He first showed up on [special] teams but he’s been a solid performer on defense.”

Garrett was asked to name his best attribute but he didn’t come up with just one.

“He has a lot of good traits. Physically, he has a lot of tools,” Garrett said of Heath. “He’s big enough to play the position. He runs well. He has good ball skills. He’s physical. He just finds a way to get away from people and gets to the football.”

Last week, the Cowboys rotated Heath into the game on defense in the first quarter. While it was perceived at first that Wilcox was getting benched, it was simply a way to rotate Heath into the game.

“I think that really helped me and my confidence,” Heath said. “I know if I start this week, I’ll be more prepared for it because of I’ve gotten to play a little more.”

In the Eagles game, Heath was credited with a tackle on defense and another on special teams. He currently has five tackles and ranks second on the team with seven special teams stops.

Last week in Philly, Heath did come out of the game with a sore right forearm, which required an MRI on Monday. He downplayed the injury, though, and said it’s nothing that would keep him out of playing this week.

“I might wear something on it but it won’t be anything major,” Heath said of a possible brace. “It’ll be more like a tight wrap.” 

It sounds like it’s going to take a lot more than a bruised forearm to keep Heath out of Sunday’s game, which has a chance to be a homecoming and his first NFL start, rolled into one.

2013-2014 GAMEDAY PRIMER: Cowboys vs. Lions | Reggie Bush misses practice with leg injury

GAMEDAY PRIMER - Reggie Bush misses Lions practice with leg injury

The Detroit Lions aren’t the same team without running back Reggie Bush on the field. We learned that in Week 3, when Detroit’s ground game withered up in a tight win over the Washington Redskins as Bush watched from the sideline with a left knee injury.

On Friday, an injury to Bush’s right leg kept him out of practice ahead of Sunday’s tilt with the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced.

The Detroit News described it as an upper leg tweak, and Bush was seen with the leg wrapped after not being listed on Thursday’s injury report. Also missing the session were offensive tackle Corey Hilliard (knee), safety Louis Delmas (knees) and wide receiver Nate Burleson (arm), but Bush’s absence comes out of nowhere.

We don’t expect him to miss Sunday’s game — not until we hear something more dire — but if he can’t handle a full workload, Joique Bell will be in for a busy day. Bell has shown well in limited snaps, but no one can replace Bush’s playmaking ability in Detroit. We’ll keep an eye on this one.

Editors update: The story above, as reported by the drama queens at NFL.com, implies that Reggie Bush might miss the matchup with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Here’s an update from the Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush sat out practice today with a right leg injury, but Bush said his absence was “precautionary” and he’ll be fine for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“Feel good,” Bush said. “Just taking a day off, getting ready for the game on Sunday.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz has said several times this year that it’s important for players to practice midweek and that some guys will get maintenance days on Fridays.

Safety Louis Delmas (knee), tackle Corey Hilliard (knee) and receiver Nate Burleson (arm) also missed practice for the Lions today. Hilliard and Burleson are out, while Delmas will play against the Cowboys.

If Reggie Bush can't play, Joique Bell will be in for a busy day when the Dallas Cowboys face Detroit Lions - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule

Detroit Lions injury report (10-24-2013)

Name Position Injury Practice Status Game Status
Louis Delmas S Limited Participation in Practice
Theo Riddick RB Full Participation in Practice
Brandon Pettigrew TE Limited Participation in Practice
Corey Hilliard T Did Not Participate In Practice
Rashean Mathis CB Limited Participation in Practice
Andre Fluellen DT Limited Participation in Practice
Nate Burleson WR Out (Definitely Will Not Play)
Jason Fox T Limited Participation in Practice
Ashlee Palmer LB Limited Participation in Practice
Calvin Johnson WR Limited Participation in Practice
Riley Reiff T Limited Participation in Practice

Dallas Cowboys injury report (10-24-2013)

Name Position Injury Practice Status Game Status
Lance Dunbar RB Limited Participation in Practice
DeMarco Murray RB Limited Participation in Practice
DeMarcus Ware DE Did Not Participate In Practice
Miles Austin WR Limited Participation in Practice
Nick Hayden DT Did Not Participate In Practice
Ronald Leary G Full Participation in Practice
DeVonte Holloman LB Did Not Participate In Practice
George Selvie DE Limited Participation in Practice
Dez Bryant WR Full Participation in Practice
Morris Claiborne CB Did Not Participate In Practice
J.J. Wilcox S Limited Participation in Practice
Jason Hatcher DT Limited Participation in Practice
Dwayne Harris WR Full Participation in Practice

ROOKIE’S MRI NEGATIVE: J.J. Wilcox has a sprained right knee; doubtful for Lions game

ROOKIE’S MRI NEGATIVE - J.J. Wilcox has a sprained right knee; doubtful for Lions game

IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys rookie safety J.J. Wilcox is arguably coming off the best game of his young career last week in Philadelphia. But it’s unlikely he’ll be able to follow head coach Jason Garrett’s motto and “stack good games together” when the team travels to Detroit.

Wilcox will likely have to miss Sunday’s matchup against the Lions after suffering a sprained right knee, which required an MRI Thursday afternoon. Wilcox said he had a sprained MCL, an injury he suffered on his left knee in college at Georgia Southern.

“It feel better this time than that injury,” Wilcox said. “I’m disappointed, but that’s football. That’s the way it goes.”

Wilcox suffered the injury late in today’s practice during red-zone drills when he came down awkwardly after competing for a pass with tight end Gavin Escobar.

Wilcox agreed he likely wouldn’t be able to play this week against the Detroit Lions and said it’s too early to tell if the Nov. 2 game with Minnesota Vikings is a possibility. But the rookie definitely perked up when asked about a possible return for the Saints game on Nov. 10.

“I don’t know just yet, but I don’t think it’ll be that bad,” Wilcox said. “I just have to work hard to get back soon.” 

A third-round pick in the 2013 draft, Wilcox has been improving each week, and made a key play in last Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

“I really felt like I was coming on,” Wilcox said. “I’ve always had a lot [of confidence] but I know I’ve gotten better and felt like I was starting to really help the team. So hopefully this won’t be a big setback.”

If Wilcox doesn’t play, the Cowboys will likely start rookie Jeff Heath, who is battling an injury sustained on his right forearm last week. He said the issue won’t keep him out of practice or the game.

“I might wear something on it but it won’t be anything major,” Heath said of possible brace. “It’ll be more like a tight wrap.”

The Cowboys also have Danny McCray, who is one of the team’s better special teams contributors. The club could add a fourth safety – possibly rookie Jakar Hamilton, who is currently on the practice squad.

Wilcox is currently seventh on the team with 28 tackles. He took over as a starter in Week 3 against the Rams and started five straight games, making a career-high nine tackles against Denver.

He won the starting job outright from Will Allen, who was eventually waived. Wilcox had a stellar training camp and preseason despite having to miss nearly a week in the middle of camp to be with his ailing mother, who passed away in August.

Wilcox still returned to play in the last two preseason games and got a few snaps in the first two regular-season games before the coaching staff made him a starter. Wilcox has had two interceptions nullified this year – one by penalty against the Rams and the other by the replay booth last week.

2013-2014 GAMEDAY PRIMER: Cowboys vs. Lions | Detroit boasts big air threat

2013-2014 GAMEDAY PRIMER - Cowboys vs. Lions - Detroit boasts big air threat

Dallas Cowboys:

Another battle between two even teams, as the 4-3 Cowboys prepare for the 4-3 Lions. They may not have played Detroit since 2011, but the Cowboys still probably have a taste of that defeat in their mouths. They squandered a 24-point third quarter lead and lost the last time the two teams played, and Tony Romo has to remember the two interceptions he threw that were returned for touchdowns. His three interceptions that day are just two fewer than he has all season this year.

Romo’s hot start this year has a lot to do with why the Cowboys are sitting atop the NFC East through seven weeks. He’s got a 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio and is tied for second in the league in touchdown passes with 15, with rookie Terrance Williams catching at least one each of the last three weeks. He’s also got his own version of Calvin Johnson in Dez Bryant, who’s bested Johnson in every major category other than touchdowns, which they’re tied in with six apiece. But Romo hasn’t really been needed a whole lot the last couple weeks.

The Cowboys’ maligned defense early on has now allowed 19 combined points its past two weeks to two division foes. That defense features a new face every week on the defensive line, and somehow it’s working. Jarius Wynn was signed last week, suited up and contributed with half a sack. They added former second-round pick Marvin Austin to the defensive tackle mix. Six current players on the defensive line weren’t with the team when training camp began, but they’ve still gotten pressure on the quarterback, thanks in large part to the consistency of Jason Hatcher (six sacks) and George Selvie (4.5).

The improved play in the secondary has helped the pressure on the quarterback. The corners will need to continue that if they want to stop Johnson, who, after injuries slowed him early on, went off for 155 yards and two touchdowns last week. Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick combined to hold DeSean Jackson to just three catches and 21 yards last week. They’ll need to keep that up, and the Cowboys’ could use a second straight game with 100 yards from Bryant. They may also get another jolt if either DeMarcus Ware or DeMarco Murray can return from injuries. 

Detroit Lions:

A 4-3 record goes much further in the NFC East than it does in the NFC North. The Cowboys and Lions are tremendously similar. Going past the obvious in their records, the Lions and Cowboys both have exactly 49 penalties, a plus-five turnover margin and are in the top 10 in the league in scoring average. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Lions play in a division where 4-3 is only good for second place. They’re one of two four-win teams in the NFC North, along with Green Bay and Chicago.

There are only two quarterbacks in the NFC with at least 2,000 passing yards, and they’ll both be playing this weekend. Matt Stafford leads the NFC with 2,129 passing yards, totaling 119 more than Romo. He hasn’t been quite as accurate, however, as Romo’s competing 68.3 percent of his passes compared to just 61.4 percent for Stafford. It will help for Stafford that he has a healthier star receiver to throw to now in Johnson, who missed a game earlier this year. Johnson’s still accumulated six touchdowns in six games and three 100-yard receiving games despite playing banged up.

The Lions have been needing to put up a ton of points to win their four games this year. Every game they’ve won, they’ve scored at least 27 points. They’ve allowed at least 20 points in six of seven games this year and currently sit 31st in the league, allowing 397.1 yards per game (the Cowboys’ defense isn’t much better, allowing 393.9 a game). Despite putting Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the middle of their line, the Lions are just 27th in the league in sacks. They are, however, getting enough pressure on the quarterback to get 10 interceptions, which is good to tie them for third in the league.

The plus-five turnover ratio has put the Lions’ offense in better position, and Stafford and company are delivering. The Lions are No. 8 in the league in scoring average (26.6) and No. 7 in total offense per game (386.4). They feature more explosion at running back, as Reggie Bush joined the team and is fourth in the league in total yards from scrimmage (731). The Cowboys faced the toughest in the league in LeSean McCoy and took care of business, but if they take a breather this week, Bush and Johnson will make them pay. Bush’s backup, Joique Bell, also works in and has 478 yards from scrimmage.

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