All season long, the main concern about the Dallas Cowboys has been whether they can beat the cream of the crop.
At least temporarily, they addressed that with their 20-19 victory over the Detroit Lions, but that original narrative was oh so close to remaining true.
Entering Saturday, the Cowboys had played seven games against teams that currently hold a playoff spot – they won just two of them, beating the Los Angeles Rams (before they turned things around) and the Seattle Seahawks.
And they almost went to 2-6 in such games. Almost…
Inside the two-minute warning, Mike McCarthy pulled a Mike McCarthy and saved the Lions from burning a timeout due to an incomplete pass on second down, rather than wasting the clock. The Cowboys were held to a field goal and went up, 20-13, with 1:41 to go.
It was more than enough time for the Lions – Detroit marched right down the field in nine plays, and Amon-Ra St. Brown scored from 11 yards out with 23 seconds left.
Detroit, having already clinched the NFC North with nothing to lose, went for the win and opted to go for two. It was successful, as Jared Goff ran a play action and found Taylor Decker, an offensive lineman, in the end zone. But…refs said he didn’t report himself as eligible! So, flag on the play.
Detroit opted to keep the offense on the field, and Goff threw a pick. BUT WAIT! That wasn’t all! Micah Parsons lined up offsides.
Goff’s third pass fell incomplete, and there were no flags this time. Detroit went for the onside kick, but was unsuccessful.
Although McCarthy’s decision-making almost gave the game away, he did have a good gameplan beforehand: Give the ball to CeeDee Lamb.
In the first quarter, Dak Prescott found Lamb for a 92-yard touchdown, which was a preview of what was to come. Just before the half, Lamb was inches away from his second score of the night – but he was a victim of the worst rule in sports when he fumbled the ball, and it went out of bounds in the end zone, resulting in a touchback. So, instead of a 14-3 Cowboys lead, it stayed at 7-3.
Midway through the third, David Montgomery ventured his way into the end zone to put the Lions up 10-7, but Dallas answered with a 51-yard field goal to tie it just before the start of the fourth.
Detroit kicked a field goal shortly after a 64-yard reception from Jameson Williams to go up three, but with 7:20 to go, Prescott found Brandin Cooks for a touchdown, and Dallas was up 17-13. Then all the aforementioned hell broke loose.
Prescott completed 26 of his 38 passes for 345 yards, 227 of which went to Lamb. His night also gave him the most receptions and receiving yards in a single season in Cowboys history, surpassing Michael Irvin in both categories. He now has 122 catches for 1,651 on the season, which both rank first in the league (although Tyreek Hill trails by just 10 yards and has yet to play this weekend).
The win keeps Dallas’ hopes of winning the NFC East alive, as they improved to 11-5 on the season although the Philadelphia Eagles do still control their own destiny. Detroit fell to that same record, as they’re still vying for seeding – they clinched their first division title since 1993 last week.
Dallas wraps up their regular season against the Commanders in Washington, while the Lions will host the Minnesota Vikings.
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