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By Shawn S. Lealos
With just one minute left, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys would win a tough game over the Detroit Lions. However, Calvin Johnson had a career performance and with 12 seconds left, helped get the Lions in scoring position so Matthew Stafford could sneak the ball into the end zone to beat Dallas in an impressive come-from-behind victory, 31-30.
Offensive Grade: C-
The Cowboys offense played clean football, but they just didn’t do enough to win. Tony Romo only completed 46 percent of his passes for a very low 206 yards, but he did throw three touchdowns with no interceptions. The problem was he was not throwing good balls in the game–many where the receivers had no chance to catch them. He also only targeted Dez Bryant, his biggest weapon, six times in the game.
Quite honestly, the only reason Dallas scored 30 points in this game is because of the defense giving the Cowboys good field position and a couple of big plays. Terrance Williams was the most targeted Cowboys receiver, with 10 balls thrown his way, but he only caught two passes for 64 yards, picking up 60 yards on one touchdown reception. Of Dez Bryant’s three catches, two went for touchdowns.
Other than that, the Dallas passing game couldn’t move the ball and the rushing offense was even worse, with Joseph Randle averaging 1.9 yards per carry and the team as a whole only ran for 62 yards. It was an offense that was as boring and ineffective as anything seen this year, but has to get credit for not turning the ball over.
Defensive Grade: C
This defense was spectacular and horrible at the same time.
First, the good came in the form of four turnovers. Sean Lee intercepted Matthew Stafford twice in the game, but only one of the interceptions was turned into Cowboys points. The Cowboys also forced two fumbles, one by Reggie Bush and the second by Calvin Johnson, but could only pull out a field goal out of those two turnovers.
One might think that four turnovers would lead to a Dallas win, but the problem is that the defense completely shattered outside of the turnovers. Matthew Stafford became the fourth quarterback this season to throw for over 400 yards against the team. Even more embarrassing, Calvin Johnson caught 14 receptions for 329 yards and a touchdown in a game. It was almost unreal watching him tear apart the Dallas defense.
Coming into the game, a lot of attention was given to the battle between Dez Bryant and Johnson, but this game proved that Johnson is miles above Bryant at this time.
Also getting a lot of room to move was running back Reggie Bush, with 92 rushing yards for a touchdown, at 4.4 yards per carry, while also catching eight passes of his own for 30 yards. The Lions manhandled the Cowboys defense at the end of the game, scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter, and if it wasn’t for the four turnovers, this grade would be an “F.”
Special Teams: B
The Cowboys special teams were on the field a lot in this game. They continued to play superbly well on punts, both receiving and coverage. Chris Jones punted the seven times in this game, with a 44.7 average, and the Lions only had one chance to return a punt, that only going for four yards. On the other hand, the Lions punted the ball four times and Dwayne Harris returned two of them for 25 yards. Harris also returned three kickoffs for 113 yards.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.