The Detroit Lions got their fourth-quarter comeback from Matthew Stafford, but their defense couldn’t get the one stop they needed. The Lions dropped to 1-3 after allowing a last-minute field goal from the Cowboys, losing 26-23.
Here’s the recap:
The Lions got things off to a hot start with a big 32-yard run from Kerryon Johnson on the first offensive play of the game. However, the drive quickly stalled after Matthew Stafford missed Luke Willson on a third-and-7 play. Dee Virgin nearly pinned the Cowboys inside their own 1-yard line on the punt, but his foot barely touched the goal line, setting up a touchback.
The defense started the day much like they finished last week: stoutly. The Cowboys started with three straight runs, and the Lions held them a couple yards short on third-and-1.
The Lions offense continued to move the ball on their side of the field, but, again, they stalled once they got onto Dallas’ side of the field. Even worse, the Lions appeared to have lost T.J. Lang, as he walked off the field under clear pain.
T.J. Lang getting helped off the field with the assistance of trainers. He's headed right back into the locker room.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) September 30, 2018
UPDATE: T.J. Lang is out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.
The Cowboys’ offense woke up on the next possession and connected on two big passing plays of over 30 yards. However, the Lions’ red zone defense stepped up big and Darius Slay made sure Dak Prescott wouldn’t be finding the end zone on this possession. 3-0 Cowboys.
But this time the Lions would work themselves into Dallas territory and finish a drive. After methodically working their way to midfield, Matthew Stafford connected with Golden Tate, and the YAC King did the rest:
Get your because it's #showtime. @ShowtimeTate with the 45-yard TD. #OnePride#DETvsDAL pic.twitter.com/LVfOZFusP3— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 30, 2018
Dallas would quickly respond with a nice, methodical drive of their own. However, their insistence on targeting Darius Slay proved costly. Slay would break up three passes on the drive, including a third-and-3 play. That forced Dallas to settle for yet another field goal, and the Lions held onto the lead. 7-6 Lions.
The Lions offense continued their game plan from the previous week: Long, sustained drives. Unfortunately, the red zone issues from Week 3 came with them, too. The Lions had to settle for another chip-shot field goal, extending their lead to four with just under three minutes left in the half. 10-6 Lions.
Dallas wouldn’t be down for much longer. A few big plays moved them to midfield, and a controversial roughing the passer call moved them into field goal range. But the Cowboys weren’t interested in a field goal, on the very next play, Dallas executed a perfect screen for the score. 13-10 Cowboys.
So it was up to Stafford to execute a two-minute drill to even things up (or take the lead at the half). Things were off to a good start after Stafford connected with Kenny Golladay for 15 yards, but after getting sacked on the very next play, the drive floundered. Detroit entered the half down three.
Dallas had the ball to start the second half, and they continued to move the ball efficiently, but thanks to a handful of flags. Detroit was flagged three times for defensive holding as the Cowboys moved into Detroit territory. However, a penalty of their own drew them back, and Devon Kennard pushed the Cowboys out of field goal position, forcing an opening possession punt.
But the Lions couldn’t do anything with it and quickly punted right back to Dallas.
It continued to be the Ezekiel Elliott show for Dallas. A 41-yard run put Dallas quickly in the red zone, and a fourth-down conversion by Elliott put them first-and-goal. Blown coverage on first down made it easy for Dallas and suddenly they had a two-score lead. 20-10 Cowboys.
After a couple of great catches from Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay, the Lions found themselves in Dallas territory to draw the game back to a single possession, as time expired in the third quarter.
To start the final stanza, the Lions faced a key third-and-3, and Stafford found Golladay for 22-yards. It was red zone time again for the Lions offense, and this time they’d cash in. On the very first red zone play, Johnson scored his first career touchdown on a play in which he lowered his head from three yards out and bullied his way into the end zone. 20-17 Cowboys.
Kerryon Johnson TRUCK STICK pic.twitter.com/F05YDybw8i— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 30, 2018
It looked like the Cowboys were going to put this one away. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott drained a ton of time and gained a ton of yards... 15 plays, 85 yards and a whopping 8:24 off the clock. However, Detroit stiffened up in the red zone and forced a field goal, keeping it a one-score game. 23-17 Cowboys
Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate wasted little time in retaking the lead. First, a 35-yard strike got them out of a hole caused by a sack. Then Stafford found Tate for the score a few plays later.
Tate is just out here disrespecting the whole Cowboys defense today pic.twitter.com/30eB8pHzm1— Detroit Videos (@DetroitVideos) September 30, 2018
However, there was still plenty of time for Dallas to score and their offense had been rolling all day. The Lions nearly got the stop immediately, after Da’Shawn Hand got a strip sack, but Prescott picked up the ball and threw it away. A few plays later, he connected on a huge pass to Elliot with Jarrad Davis in coverage. Already in field goal range, the Cowboys just ran the clock and kicked at 38-yard field goal for the win. 26-23 Cowboys.
With the loss, the Lions drop to 1-3 and fall further behind the Bears and Packers, both winners in Week 4.
It’s gameday and for the Detroit Lions, it’s a great opportunity to prove some of their doubters wrong. In the NFL, it’s any given Sunday, so while last week’s win over the New England Patriots certainly spread hope across Detroit, it hasn’t put the previous two weeks completely in the rear view mirror. It’s one thing to play a single good game. It’s another to string a couple togethers.
This week, they’re in Dallas to take on a 1-2 Cowboys team searching for answers. Confidence is at an all-time low, and skepticism for the entire Cowboy regime is at an all-time high. Is Jason Garrett the coach to get Dallas back to football relevancy? Is it time to move on from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan? Was Dak Prescott just a flash in the pan?
There are a lot of questions in Dallas right now and not a lot of answers.
So which team desperate to send a message will come out victorious in Week 4? Here’s how to catch Sunday afternoon’s game.
Here’s how to watch Sunday’s game:
Week 4: Lions at Cowboys
Date: Sunday, September 30, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium—Dallas, TX
Week 4 TV map: Click here
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver
Local Radio: WJR-AM News Talk 760
Announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Online Streaming: FOX Sports GO