The Detroit Lions, once again, played up to their opponent. For four quarters, they stayed in stride of the Dallas Cowboys, but when it came down to it, they just couldn’t make enough plays on either side of the ball.
The Lions looked improved in some aspect of the game—run defense, run offense—but it wasn’t enough to overcome a better Dallas team. Here’s how it all happened.
The Lions won the coin toss and deferred, meaning the Cowboys would have the ball first, but they wouldn’t have it for long. On the second play from scrimmage Ezekiel Elliott fumbled the ball after Trey Flowers jarred it loose.
Trey Flowers with the forced fumble recovered by Jarrad Davis pic.twitter.com/1n5ZAecApa— Detroit Lions (@Lions) November 17, 2019
Jeff Driskel and the Lions offense took over at the Cowboys’ 29-yard line. After a big 11-yard pickup from Danny Amendola on third-down, Bo Scarbrough—Detroit’s starting running back on Sunday—got the Lions within the 5-yard line. From there Scarbrough punched it in with a physical run and the Lions got off to a 7-0 Detroit lead.
The Cowboys offense was slow to react. They quickly went three-and-out on the next possession thanks to Darius Slay’s third-down pass breakup, his second of the day in as many possessions. But the Lions responded with a three-and-out of their own.
From there, the Cowboys offense finally woke up. They got a big third-down conversion from Amari Cooper, but when the got into the red zone, the Lions defense stood tall. On third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, the Lions dialed up a blitz and Devon Kennard bowled through nearly untouched for a sack. Dallas would settle for three. 7-3 Lions.
Driskell couldn’t extend the lead, however. On a third-down play, he scrambled and bought some extra time, but couldn’t find an open receiver and the pass fell incomplete, causing a second straight three-and-out.
Dak Prescott then started to carve up the Lions defense. A 23-yard pass to Michael Gallup and a 14-yard strike to Randall Cobb moved Dallas deep into Lions territory as we turned over into the second quarter.
The Lions defense was able to get into a third-and-5 situation, potentially keeping their bend-but-don’t-break strategy, but there was a coverage breakdown and Prescott found a wide-open Tony Pollard on a crossing route and he scampered for a 21-yard score to give Dallas the lead. 10-7 Cowboys.
Another Lions offensive drive, another three-and-out. This time, Dallas picked up a sack on first down and Detroit couldn’t recover. But Dallas punt right back, and Jamal Agnew had a big 32-yard punt return that set up Detroit at the Cowboys’ 45-yard line.
The Lions would take advantage because of their lethal... running game? First, J.D. McKissic picked up a third-and-5 on a surprise draw play. Then on the next play, Scarbrough broke free for 23 yards, giving the Lions a first-and-goal from the 2. Driskel ran a perfect read option on the next play for the Lions’ second rushing touchdown of the day. 14-10 Lions.
And the shootout was on. It didn’t take long for the Cowboys to respond. On a third-and-9, Michael Gallup came down with an acrobatic 41-yard catch.
Two plays later, Ezekiel Elliott punched it in for the score. 17-14 Cowboys.
Cowboys fans at Ford Field got loud as the Lions had a chance to score points late before the half. Unfortunately for Detroit, they quickly found themselves punting, giving the Cowboys a shot at the two-minute drill.
They wouldn’t need all that time. Randall Cobb got free for 49 yards after Justin Coleman fell down, and two plays later, Cobb pulled another one in, this time for the 19-yard score. 24-14 Cowboys.
That’s the score we’d take into halftime.
The Lions got the start they needed out of halftime. Working their way to midfield thanks to some more success on the ground, Jeff Driskel dialed up the patented Marvin Hall 39-yard bomb that got Detroit into the red zone. A few plays later, Driskel escaped the pocket and threw a perfect ball to Marvin Jones Jr. for the 11-yard score. 24-21 Cowboys.
Dallas had a solid retaliation drive, but they stalled in the red zone. Prescott threw three straight incompletions and the Cowboys settled for three, keeping it a one-score game. 27-21 Cowboys.
Thanks to a couple plays from Driskel’s feet, Detroit drove to midfield and faced a crucial third-and-3 at the 50-yard line as we moved into the final quarter.
The Lions would hand the ball off to Ty Johnson, his first touch of the game, but Detroit would fail to convert. HOWEVER, the Lions showed a fake punt formation, causing the Cowboys to panic and jump offsides. That gave Detroit the first down. But Detroit didn’t gain a single yard on the next three plays and they squandered the gift from Dallas, punting it away anyways.
On the ensuing drive Darius Slay nearly came down with interceptions on two different plays. On the first, Cowboys receiver Tavon Austin did a nice job breaking up the play. On the second, the ball went right between his hands and into those of Amari Cooper, who picked up 16 yards.
On a huge third-and-8, the Lions dialed up a rare all-out blitz. Unfortunately for them, the Cowboys had a screen pass ready for that exact situation, and Elliott scored from 17-yards out. Dallas would add a two-point conversion. 35-21 Cowboys.
Come for the @EzekielElliott touchdown…— NFL (@NFL) November 17, 2019
Stay for his @dak celebration! #DALvsDET #DallasCowboys
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But the Lions weren’t giving up quite yet. Driskel led the Lions on a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with this Marvin Jones Jr. touchdown, his second of the day.
Detroit decided to go for two—a controversial decision at the time (more on that in an upcoming article), and did not convert.
The drive only took 2:16 off the clock, giving Detroit plenty of time to come back... if they could get a defensive stop. 35-27 Cowboys.
Detroit would eventually get the stop they need, giving Jeff Driskel 3:44 left to lead a game-tying drive. After a huge 34-yard bomb to Kenny Golladay, plus an additional 15 yards on a facemask, it looked like Detroit would jump on the opportunity. However, they would only move backwards from there, and eventually they punted facing a fourth-and-26.
Their only chance to win was with a three-and-out. But the Cowboys pulled play action on second down, fooling nearly the entire Lions defense, and the game was over.
The Lions have now lost six of their last seven games and sit at a hugely disappointing 3-6-1 record with six games remaining. Next up, 1-9 Washington.
For the first time in six years, the Detroit Lions will face off against the Dallas Cowboys at Ford Field. For a while, it seemed like these two teams were playing each other every year and with spectacular results. The fake spike, the Calvin Johnson 509252-yard game (approximately), even last year’s tight finish was an entertaining watch.
But the last time these two teams faced each other in Detroit, things looked quite different, especially for the Lions. Obviously Jim Schwartz is no longer the coach and Martin Mayhew is no longer the general manager. But the roster has been completely overhauled. In fact, I went back and checked the lineup for that 2013 game, and there was only a single player who logged a snap on offense or defense that is likely to play for the Lions this week: cornerback Darius Slay, who only had spot duty as a rookie that week.
Obviously, the biggest change this week will be at quarterback, where it seems almost certain that Matthew Stafford will miss his first home start in nearly a decade. Jeff Driskel will be given the unenviable task of trying to keep pace with a Dallas Cowboys offense firing on nearly all cylinders.
Will he be able to keep the Lions close? Or will it be a trainwreck? Either way, if you’re reading this right now, chances are you plan on watching. Here’s how you can do that.
How to watch Lions-Cowboys
Date: Sunday, November 17, 2019
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field — Detroit, MI
Week 11 TV Map: Courtesy of 506 Sports here
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver
Online streaming: Yahoo Sports app
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Odds: Cowboys by 3