Cowboys v. Lions: Game Balls and Close Calls

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Dan Bailey
Honorable Mention: None

Oct 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys place kicker Dan Bailey (5) celebrates kicking a field goal with holder Chris Jones (6) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Bailey was perfect on both his field goals and extra points, making three fields goals on the day.  Two of the field goals came from 53 yards out and the other was what should have been the final score of the game from 44 yards away.


These are the plays that I believe were most instrumental in contributing to the Cowboys loss Sunday to Detroit.

1. EARLY FOURTH QUARTER, 10:13 LEFT, 2ND AND 1 FROM THE LIONS 43 YARD LINE – Down 20-10, Matthew Stafford drops back to pass and throws a ball towards receiver Kris Durham who is barely ahead of Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick.  Scandrick, striding to catch up, makes contact with Durham’s foot with his foot and Durham falls to the ground… and so does a flag.  Pass interference is called which gives Detroit 21 yards and puts them into field goal range.  The irony of this was that earlier in the game, Romo and Williams tried to connect on a deep ball and the exact same scenario occurred, with the flag being picked up for incidental contact.  Five plays later, Detroit scores to close the gap to three points.

2. MID FOURTH QUARTER, 6:45 LEFT, 1ST AND 10 FROM THE LIONS 20 YARD LINE – After the Cowboys had just scored to put the lead back to 10 points at 27-17, Stafford once again tosses up a prayer, this time in the direction of Calvin Johnson who is doubled covered in front by Brandon Carr and in back by Jeff Heath.  As all three players are going up for the ball, it is Johnson who is the one who comes down with it for a 54 yard connection.  Six plays later, another Lions score again closes the gap to three.

3. LATE FOURTH QUARTER, 2:38 LEFT, 3RD AND 12 FROM THE DALLAS 23 YARD LINE – Clinging to a three-point lead and having just forced Detroit to call their first timeout, Dallas is faced with a decision.  The previous two running plays did little but to take a minute off the clock.  Do you try to get the first down or do you run the ball again and force the Lions to either use another time out or use the clock stoppage from the two-minute warning?  Dallas elects to get the first down by attempting a pass.  Instead of taking a sack, Romo throws the ball away under duress.  Incomplete pass.  The decision to not force the Lions to make a decision will prove costly down the road as Detroit gets the ball back with two time outs and 2:24 left on the clock.

4. LATE FOURTH QUARTER, 1:14 LEFT, 3RD AND 14 FROM THE LIONS 35 YARD LINE – The Dallas defense has just done their job forcing the Lions to lose the ball on downs and giving the ball back to the offense and a three point lead.  Dallas goes into super conservative mode and runs two straight downs, expunging the remaining Lions time outs.  Another run is called which should get the clock down to approximately 35 seconds left to play… except there is a hold on the play which stops the clock.  The Lions decline the penalty but gain about 25 seconds.  Dallas kicks the field goal to extend the lead to six at 30-24.

5. LATE FOURTH QUARTER, 0:40 LEFT, 2ND AND 10 FROM THE LIONS 37 YARD LINE – With no timeouts, the only enemy left for Dallas is the clock.  You cannot allow for a completion anywhere near the sidelines.  Receiver Kris Durham blows by Cowboys corner Orlando Scandrick down the sideline and a perfect pass from Stafford lands in between Scandrick and a slow to react Jakar Hamilton for 40 yards.  Two plays later, Detroit scores the final touchdown of the game and escapes with a 31-30 win.

If you’re going to go conservative, why not go all the way with it and run on the 3rd and 12 to take Detroit’s second timeout?  Under that scenario, the only other stoppage of play besides the final timeout would have been the two-minute warning.  The first four down stop would have ended the game as Detroit would have had only been able to stop the clock one more time with under two minutes to play.  Why couldn’t the offense get one first down and not even put the defense in a position to win the game one last time?  Why commit a hold when it all that matters is killing time, not gaining yards?  Why allow a completion anywhere near the sidelines?

So many questions but ultimately, there were so many mistakes made by the Cowboys, they did not really deserve to win which is the problem.  You are what you are.  This organization, regardless of coaching changes or new players or new schemes is just mediocre and that is not going to change any time soon.