After the Dallas Cowboys got a win in interim head coach Jason Garrett’s debut last week in New York, they had their sights on making it two in a row and winning Garrett’s home coaching debut. Winning at home had been a problem for the Cowboys this year. They had a 0-4 record heading into today’s game with the Lions. The good news for the Cowboys was the Lions were even worse on the road having not won a road game since October 2007.
The Cowboys started well when QB Jon Kitna led the team on an opening drive score. Kitna hit impressive rookie Dez Bryant on a 1-yard touchdown pass to put the home side up 7-0 early. Bryant made a great catch over a Lion’s defender and hauled in the pass for his 6th touchdown of the year.
After that he offense seemed to stall and that would be all the Cowboys could manage in the first half. Detroit retaliated with a long drive of their own, kicking a field goal at the beginning of the second quarter to make it 7-3.
As the half was drawing to the close and the Cowboys pinned deep they decided to run the ball from inside their own 5-yard line with 50 seconds left in the second quarter. HB Felix Jones lost the handle on the ball on a nice run and the Lions recovered it at the Dallas 14-yard line. Three plays later, WR Nate Burleson scored to give Detroit a 10-7 halftime lead.
Through the first half of the game, fans started to wonder if the Cowboys were slipping back into their old ways. Detroit had the advantage in most statistical categories after the first half and the Cowboys were only able to generate 96 yards of total offense.
The dumb penalties made a return for the Cowboys as the third quarter got underway. Pinned again deep in their own end, guard Leonard Davis was called for holding rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the end zone, which gave the Lions a safety and 12-7 lead.
Then rookie Bryan McCann decided he wanted to change the game in similar fashion to his 101-yard interception return for a touchdown last week in New York. Detroit’s punt unit appeared ready to down the ball around the Cowboys’ 5-yard line. One of Detroit’s gunners stopped the ball from bouncing into the end zone by swatting it out to who he thought was his coverage team. Instead, it was McCann who picked up the loose ball, ran outside and turned the corner to find nothing but blockers ahead of him. He flew down the sideline for a 97-yard touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 14-12 lead.
It seemed that is what the Cowboys and the fans needed to get the momentum rolling. A rejuvenated defense took the field and immediately caused a turnover when DE Jason Hatcher, back from injury, caught a fumble out of mid air at the Detroit 19-yard line. The Cowboys needed just four plays to get in the score again, as Kitna threw to a wide open Austin for the score making it a 21-12 game.
While the momentum seemed to fly to the Cowboys side Detroit made a strong push to get it back and on the following possession went 80 yards with a deep ball to WR Nate Burelson getting 58 of them. Lions QB Shaun Hill found all-star Calvin Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown pass making the score 21-19.
But Dallas didn’t lie down or even let the Lions regain the momentum as Kitna led the team back down into the Lions red zone and, aided by a penalty on Ndamukong Suh, scored on a 4-yard touchdown reception by Miles Austin extending the lead to 28-19. The Cowboys didn’t stop there as the stopped the Lions with a big sack and then got the ball back. Kitna led and 80-yard drive capped off by a Kitna bootleg around the left side for 29 yards and the final score. No one in their right mind saw that coming and the Cowboys closed it out at 35-19.
The Cowboys are now on a 2-game winning streak and will look to continue that next week when they host the Champs from New Orleans on Thanksgiving. The team does look rejuvenated and fresh under Garrett we’ll see if they can keep it rolling.