The Detroit Lions said that during the bye week they had figured out a few things on the defensive side of the ball. On Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, it looked like it. The defense held Dallas to just three points in the first half, and only 17 points until the wheels fell off at the end of the game.
The issue on Sunday was Detroit’s offense. After going scoreless against the New England Patriots in Week 5, the Lions failed to score a touchdown against Dallas’ defense. What really sunk the Lions’ chances on Sunday were the team’s five turnovers. Goff was responsible for four (two interceptions and two fumbles), but Lions running back Jamaal Williams had the most costly of the bunch.
It was early in the fourth quarter in a 10-6 Cowboys game. Detroit was set to take the lead on a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but Williams fumbled the ball immediately and Dallas recovered.
That was the closest the Lions got for the rest of the game, as Dallas walked away comfortably with a 24-6 win.
The Cowboys won the toss and made a rare decision to receive, meaning the Lions defense was up first. Detroit quickly forced a three-and-out after Aidan Hutchinson sacked Dak Prescott on a third-and-8.
A good return from Kalif Raymond and a quick 11-yard catch from Brock Wright set the Lions offense up at midfield. But two ineffective runs from Jamaal Williams—including a Lions-recovered fumble—set Detroit in a third-and-long of their own. Detroit ran a draw play—perhaps hoping a small gain would lead to a fourth-down attempt, but Craig Reynolds was stopped at the line of scrimmage and Detroit punted. Newly-paid punter Jack Fox booted the ball through the end zone for a touchback.
The Lions defense got another three-and-out after an impressive series from rookie Josh Paschal in his first career start. First, he tackled Ezekiel Elliott after just a 3-yard gain on first down. Then, facing a third-and-1, Paschal forced Elliott outside, where Jeff Okudah cleaned up the play before the Cowboys running back reached the line of scrimmage.
The Lions offense started putting together a nice drive, with 10+-yard pickups from Kalif Raymond, Craig Reynolds and T.J. Hockenson. But the drive stalled in Cowboys territory, setting up kicker Michael Badgley for his first field goal attempt in a Lions uniform. He was good from 39 yards, giving the Detroit a 3-0 Lions lead.
Unfortunately for Detroit, Amon-Ra St. Brown suffered a concussion during this drive and was quickly ruled out.
The Cowboys responded with a nice drive of their own. Prescott connected with tight end Dalton Schultz for 15 yards then CeeDee Lamb for a big 24-yard gain, setting the Cowboys up in the red zone, before time ran out in the first quarter.
Dallas got down inside the Lions’ 5-yard line, but failed to pick up a third-and-2 on a run play. After a timeout, the Cowboys opted to kick the field goal and tied the game 3-3.
Goff connected with Hockenson and Tom Kennedy for first downs, and a roughing the passer penalty on Micah Parsons pushed Detroit comfortably into Dallas territory. It looked like Williams had converted a third-and-4 to keep Detroit’s drive alive, but a holding penalty on Evan Brown, instead, forced them into a third-and-14 and on the edge of field goal position. A screen proved ineffective, and Badgley made a 53-yard field goal to push retake the lead. 6-3 Lions.
Penalties set the Cowboys back on the next drive with a false start and block in the back setting up a second-and-20 situation. Kerby Joseph nearly picked off the next play, and the Lions force another incompletion on the next play and another three-and-out.
Detroit’s offense couldn’t do anything with it, as Jared Goff took a sack on second-and-5. On the play, Goff had Kalif Raymond wide open for a potential touchdown, but blitzing safety Donovan Wilson ducked around Jamaal Williams and got to Goff before he could let it fly.
The Cowboys got the ball back with just over four minutes left in the half to tie or take the lead. Dak got the Lions downfield with a 21-yard play to Lamb, who had beaten AJ Parker in coverage. A few plays later, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott took a shot to the knee and stayed down for several minutes, but eventually limped off under his own power.
Dallas was about to have a goal-to-go situation, but rookie safety Kerby Joseph laid a huge hit on Noah Brown, forcing the ball free, and the Lions recovered.
Starting inside their own 5-yard line, the Lions looked to be more concerned with running out the clock than scoring points. After gaining a couple first downs on the ground, they successfully did that, and took a 6-3 lead into halftime.
The Lions offense quickly worked its way to midfield, but on a second-and-2, Goff had plenty of time and went deep. Targeting Josh Reynolds, Goff underthrew the ball and Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs picked it off fairly easily (although with a bobble).
The Cowboys quickly took advantage by beating the Lions on the ground. Elliott picked up 18 yards with a run and Tony Pollard followed that up with a 28-yard run.
A pass interference on Jerry Jacobs set the Cowboys up with a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and Elliott punched it in to give Dallas their first lead of the game. 10-6 Cowboys.
Detroit again drove to midfield, but Dan Skipper—in as an extra offensive lineman—gave up a first-down sack, and the Lions offense could not recover. Detroit had an opportunity to pin the Cowboys deep, but KaVontae Turpin returned the punt for 52 yards.
The Lions defense got themselves out of the predicament with a three-and-out capped by another Aidan Hutchinson sack.
The ensuing punt went through the endzone, giving the Lions the ball at their own 20-yard line. Detroit gained a couple first downs, and while two more first downs were erased by Lions penalties, Goff converted a clutch third-and-13 by connecting with Raymond for 19 yards, as we entered the final quarter.
The Lions picked up another third down conversion with a nice outside run from Williams that picked up 20 yards and set the Lions up at Dallas’ 23-yard line. A clever play to Brock Wright got the Lions all the way down to the 1-yard line, but Williams fumbled on the next play, giving the ball right back to Dallas. Some believed the Lions should have challenged the Wright play, but he was clearly short of the end zone:
FYI, Wright was short, not close. pic.twitter.com/BuzLlqnu0m— John Whiticar (@Whiticar) October 23, 2022
While the Cowboys were able to get out of the shadow of their own end zone, the Lions quickly forced a punt, giving the offense another chance to take the lead. They kicked off the drive with a big 23-yard gain to Brock Wright. Detroit couldn’t get anything else going, though, and on third-and-12, Goff threw his second interception of the game.
Dallas methodically worked their way down the field, ate up clock, and finished the drive with a touchdown, pushing it to a two-score lead. 17-6 Cowboys.
Goff was strip-sacked on the ensuing drive, and the Cowboys punched it in to push it to 24-6 Dallas with less than two minutes left.
The Lions still tried to punch it in the end zone late, but Goff fumbled again.