Just three weeks after the Tony Romo and the Cowboys blew a 14-point lead in New York, they found a way to demonstrate an even bigger collapse, this time at home. The Cowboys blew a 27-3 second half lead and allowed the Lions to roar all the way back and take a 34-30 win in Cowboys Stadium.
The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Tony Romo, who after throwing a touchdown pass to start the third quarter, threw two consecutive drive ending interceptions that the Lions returned for touchdowns. Romo would go on to toss a third interception in the fourth quarter giving the Lions opportunity to help the Cowboys enter the record books again this season. This collapse is the worst collapse ever in Cowboys team history. The previous worst collapse was a 21-point collapse to the Washington Redskins in 1965.
No doubt this week will see heavy criticism on Tony Romo and, head coach, Jason Garrett, whose questionable play calling in the fourth quarter helped contribute to the loss.
The day started great for the Cowboys as Romo hit Dez Bryant for an opening drive 25-yard touchdown pass. The score was the only one of the first quarter but it looked like the Cowboys were setting themselves up for a dominating afternoon as the offense was moving the ball and the defense was swallowing up the Lions.
Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford, was frustrated by the Cowboys defense all first half and was unable to find any of his receiving weapons. The Cowboys defense also did a nice job containing RB Jahvid Best, who struggled to get anything going after his first run of the game, a 19-yard scamper.
The second quarter began the same way as Romo hit Bryant again, this time for a 6-yard touchdown and a 14-point lead. The teams would exchange field goals and the Cowboys would add a second to take a 20-3 lead into halftime, but had dominated the Lions all half.
The early story for the Cowboys was free agent wideout, Laurnet Robinson. The fifth year pro had one of his best games tallying 7 receptions for 116. It was not all roses for Robinson though, whose inability to cross the face of his defender on a slant allowed Detroit’s Chris Houston to intercept Romo and run it back 56 yards for Detroit’s second straight interception for a touchdown.
Former Cowboy, Bobby Carpenter, made the first interception and ran it back for a score moments before Houston’s big play. Carpenter dropped back into a zone and Romo never saw him. Those plays marked the turning point for the game.
The Cowboys would only manage to get another field goal, and the Lions combo of QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson took over the game in the fourth quarter.
Stafford (21 of 43, 240 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) led a fourth quarter drive that saw him hit a triple covered Calvin Johnson in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown reception. Johnson simply out jumped everyone else to grab the high toss, and showing why he earned the nickname “Megatron”. The Cowboys had no answer, and after a Lions’ field goal, Stafford came after them again leading to a field goal and narrowing the gap to 30-27.
With just under two minutes left and the Lions down by three, Stafford found “Megatron” on a fade route in the corner of the end zone for the game sealing touchdown. Johnson, again out jumping is coverage (Terrance Newman) for the easy score, and the 34-30 win.
While the game was highly entertaining, it leaves many questions for Cowboys fans who will have many reasons to be upset. The biggest lightning rod will surely be quarterback Tony Romo, who went 34 of 47 for 331 yards and 3 touchdowns. But it was his 3 interceptions that turned the game around. All three were ill-advised throws that turned the momentum of the game and lead directly to another loss, the second of the season.
The Cowboys will have the next two weeks to dwell on this one as they have a bye this week before they head to New England to face a dangerous Patriots team. Hopefully, they can take the next week to find answers to some of these tough questions.