This probably wasn’t the game script the Lions wanted.
Nobody wants to be in a shootout on the road against a team as versatile as the Cowboys, but a shootout is what the game turned into as soon as it became clear that this Lions defense was not going to shut down the Cowboys offense.
The first half was fairly solid for the Lions, they moved the ball on offense and only gave up 21 points to the Cowboys. The 2nd half is where it all started to fall apart for the Lions.
Detroit received the kick and were driving before a holding call and a sack forced the Lions into 2nd and 31. Stafford’s next pass was picked off and the Cowboys had the ball on the Lions side of the field. The Cowboys got a big pass interference penalty to get them to the goal line and Zeke punched it in from there to give the Cowboys the lead 28-21. From there, things just started going downhill fast for the Detroit Lions.
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The Lions wouldn’t score for the rest of the game and the Cowboys would go on to put up two more scores to end the game with 42 points. For a Lions team that prided themselves on their stout defense giving up 42 points is a huge deal and could factor into the mindset going into the Packers game.
Because ultimately all that matters to the Lions is that Packers game. If they win, they win the NFC North and clinch a playoff spot. If they lose, there’s a chance they don’t even make the playoffs (if the Lions lose and the Redskins win the Lions don’t get the Wild Card-if Washington loses or ties in the game against the Giants then the Lions will have clinched a playoff spot no matter what). Regardless, the Lions need to put this poor showing against the Cowboys behind them and focus on Green Bay.
Stafford was under pretty consistent pressure throughout the entire game, so clearly there’s so offensive line adjustments that will have to be made to improve Stafford’s pocket against Green Bay. So much of the Lions problems on offense stem from their lack of a running game, and it’s not something that can be fixed midseason.
For now though, all that matters is:
Winner gets the North.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 27, 2016