Stafford catches Dallas Cowboys off guard
DETROIT – Calvin Johnson thought Matthew Stafford was going to spike the ball for at least another snap.
The Dallas Cowboys did, too.
Stafford’s 1-yard lunge over a pile of linemen with 12 seconds left and Johnson’s 329 yards receiving lifted the Detroit Lions to a 31-30 win over Dallas on Sunday.
“I was yelling that I was going to spike the ball,” Stafford recalled. “But their linebackers were just standing there.”
The Cowboys weren’t just standing around letting Johnson make catch after catch, but he made them look helpless.
Johnson almost broke an NFL record, and could celebrate the feat because of a comeback from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit that some people who entered Ford Field didn’t see because they had left.
“Even our fans didn’t think we could pull this one out,” he said. “They were leaving, but we knew we could do it.”
Johnson’s total trails only the 336 yards receiving Flipper Anderson had for the Los Angeles Rams against New Orleans on Nov. 26, 1989 in a game that went into overtime. Anderson had 296 yards receiving in regulation.
The Cowboys dared Detroit to throw to Johnson with a lot of one-on-one coverage. They usually asked cornerback Brandon Carr to do the improbable by defending him by himself, and sometimes attempted to slow him down with a zone.
“He had his way,” Carr said. “And we couldn’t find a way to keep him from rolling.”
Dallas (4-4) seemed to set itself up to win three straight for the first time this year to build a bigger lead atop the NFC East when Tony Romo threw his second touchdown – and third of the game – to Dez Bryant with 6:45 left to take a 27-17 lead.
The Cowboys, though, allowed Reggie Bush to cap an 80-yard drive with a 1-yard TD with 3:33 left. They also had to settle for Dan Bailey’s third field goal with 1:02 left.
With no timeouts, the Lions went from their 20 to the Cowboys end zone thanks in large part to a 17-yard pass to Johnson, a 40-yard connection with Kris Durham and Johnson’s 14th reception that gave them the ball at the Dallas 1.
Instead of spiking the ball, Stafford took the snap and leaped with his arms extended to beat the team he rooted for growing up in Highland Park, Texas.
Lions 31, Cowboys 30
Det – Johnson 2 pass from Stafford (Akers kick)
Dal – FG Bailey 53
Dal – Bryant 5 pass from Romo (Bailey kick)
Dal – FG Bailey 53
Det – FG Akers 20
Dal – Williams 60 pass from Romo (Bailey kick)
Det – Bell 1 run (Akers kick)
Dal – Bryant 50 pass from Romo (Bailey kick)
Det – Bush 1 run (Akers kick)
Dal – FG Bailey 44
Det – Stafford 1 run (Akers kick)
A – 64,379.
|Total Net Yards||268||623|
|Time of Poss.||24:49||35:11|
RUSHING – Dallas, Randle 14-26, Dunbar 5-16, Tanner 2-8, Romo 3-6, Williams 1-5, Bryant 1-1. Detroit, Bush 21-92, Bell 4-32, Stafford 3-12, Riddick 1-7.
PASSING – Dallas, Romo 14-30-0-206. Detroit, Stafford 33-48-2-488.
RECEIVING – Dallas, Bryant 3-72, Randle 3-18, Williams 2-64, Witten 2-15, Hanna 2-12, Tanner 1-17, Beasley 1-8. Detroit, Johnson 14-329, Bush 8-30, Durham 4-54, Pettigrew 3-31, Bell 1-22, Broyles 1-8, Riddick 1-7, Ross 1-7.
MISSED FIELD GOALS – None.
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