The Dallas Cowboys will be advancing to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs thanks to their comeback win at home against the Detroit Lions. The Cowboys scored 17 unanswered points to stay alive in their quest for a sixth Championship.
It was plain out ugly in all phases of the game early on but they battled back and came out with a Victory. The first possession of the game for Detroit saw Golden Tate beat Barry Church in a double move for 51 yards on a score. Their second drive was kept alive by DeKoda Watson with a “running into the kicker” call. Ironically, Watson was signed for his special teams play. This call extended the Lions drive on fourth down. The Cowboys would have had not only good field position but momentum. Instead, the Lions proceeded to drive down the field (99 yards total) and score on a Reggie Bush 18 yard scamper into the end zone.
During this first quarter, the Cowboys could not establish the run, nor connect with their passes. Throughout the game, Detroit dialed up wonderful blitzes that disrupted the Cowboy’s passing game.
The Cowboys would later answer in the second quarter with a 76 yard catch and run by Terrence Williams. Detroit would go on to get two field goals, but nothing else. Two key calls went the Cowboys way. A pass interference call was overruled and on a Cowboy drive, the Lions were called for pass interference. These two calls gave the Cowboys life and helped turn the game around.
The game wasn’t pretty like the last three offensive showings for the Cowboys, but in the end, they stepped up and made crucial plays on offense and defense to win the game. The Cowboys started to make more tackles and get more stops in second half. On offense, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley found holes in this stellar Lions defense to pick up the chains and get back into the game. On the last drive for Dallas, Romo found Terrance Williams cutting back across the end zone for a score that would be the game winner. Rookie DeMarcus Lawrence had not had the season he or Cowboy fans expected, but in a win or stay home moment, he played his best football on Detroit’s last drive coming up with a sack-strip and redeeming his prior fumble. This sealed the game for the Cowboys and punched their ticket to Green Bay where perhaps the best offense in the league and “the frozen tundra” awaits.
What a game. What a comeback. How do you gut out a win in the playoffs like that? ESPN’s Tim McMahon heard Jeremy Mincey, who had a pass deflection that led to a pick and a sack, say it best: “Heart, Baby! Heart!”
Here are some of the things that the Cowboys will look to correct as they advance in the playoffs.
Defense: The Defensive strategy was good to limit big plays against the Lions, but was poorly executed for most of the game.The Dallas defenders were out of position, made bad reads and poor tackles. This kept them on the field for longer periods of time and weakened them. They need to play with more discipline and improve their tackling skills. The defense is to be commended for capitalizing on an opportunity, making stops when they had to, forcing 4 fumbles and an interception and getting 3 sacks.
Offense: The offense will have to find better ways to get their Running game involved. They could use more power and zone schemes than what they showed against the Lions. What good is having an All-Pro guard if you won’t reward him and let him pull for the NFL rushing leader who ran well with his limited touches… The offensive line struggled to open up lanes for the rushing game, struggled to protect Romo at times (gave up a total of 6 sacks) and picking up the Blitz. Communication and recognition goes a long way in beating the blitz. Look for the Cowboys to adjust their longer routes into quick slants and spot routes in blitz situations.
Coaching: Good game plan, but players couldn’t execute early in game. Great adjustments made at half time. This game was ugly. The type that all coaches love come practice/ film study. Plenty of things to work on, but you get the chance to do so as you advance to the next round. Get to work! Green Bay is going to be a tough game.