By Colton Pouncey, John Machoda and Saad Yusuf
Saturday night's clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions made up for the lack of scoring with turnovers, dramatic two-point conversion attempts and the pomp and circumstance of a Ring of Honor induction.
The Cowboys snapped a two-game losing streak with a 20-19 win over the Lions at AT&T Stadium that saw Detroit come up empty on three attempts to convert a two-point game in the contest's final minute.
Trailing 20-13, the Lions marched 75 yards in 1:18 and entered the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Lions were flagged for illegal touching after appearing to tip offensive lineman Taylor Decker from Goff on a two-point conversion pass. Decker was ruled to have failed to report as an eligible receiver prior to the game, and the points were erased from the scoreboard. On Detroit's second two-point attempt, Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons drew an offsides penalty that negated an interception. A third two-point attempt failed when Goff's pass to James Mitchell fell incomplete.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said in the postgame news conference that the reason Decker was ineligible for the successful two-point conversion that was nullified by a penalty was because the officials said they could not report two players as eligible.
According to NFL Rule 5, Section 3, Article 1There is no limit to the number of players who can be declared eligible on a given play.
When asked why the illegal touch penalty was called on the first try, referee Brad Allen said Decker didn't report it to him.
“On this particular play, No. 70 (Don Skipper), who reported twice during the game, reported that I deserved it. Then lined up at tackle. So, actually he doesn't have to report. No. 68 (Decker), who came down and touched the pass, did not report. So, he's an ineligible, and it touches a pass that goes beyond the line, and that's a foul,” Allen said, according to a pool report. “The problem is, No. 70 reported, No. 68 didn't.”
Allen also addressed the second flag thrown on that play.
“So number 70 is declared eligible and he is covered in the line of scrimmage, which is an illegal formation. Therefore, number 70 is in an illegal position because he is covered by the rule, and number 68 catches the pass, which is also illegal.
After Detroit's third two-point attempt came up short, Dallas wide receiver CeeDee Lamb recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win.
The final play was the key to a historic performance by Lamb, who broke the franchise record for most receiving yards in a season. First 200-yard receiving game of his career. The 24-year-old has 1,651 receiving yards through 16 games this season, including 227 against Detroit.
Lamb entered the end zone for the first of Dallas' two touchdowns on a 92-yard reception that unexpectedly blossomed off the hands of Dak Prescott, before the Cowboys quarterback would be brought down in the end zone. Prescott eluded Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes to avoid the safety, then zipped it. Longest passing game for a touchdown in the NFL this season. It is the second longest Pass game in Dallas franchise history, just shy of the 95-yard toss from 1966.
The Cowboys pulled off a thrilling escape in front of former coach Jimmy Johnson, who was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime.
What are the players saying?
Should the Lions have gone back to it?
That one will shed for a while. The Lions had a chance to win the game, but a two-point conversion pass from Goff to Decker was flagged for an illegal touch penalty. On the next play, the Cowboys were flagged for offsides, giving the Lions their third and final look. At that point, the Lions should have kicked the extra point. But Campbell went at it again, and a pass from Goff to Mitchell was short and incomplete. That's your ball game. Campbell looked frustrated by the illegal touchdown call. You know he'll have some afterthoughts about it. — Colton Pouncey, Lions Beat writer
How Detroit stacks up
The Lions were eager to see how they stacked up against one of the NFC's best teams. Despite the loss, it feels good. They held the Cowboys to nearly 20 points below their home scoring average. They took the Cowboys to the wire in Dallas, where the team won 15 in a row.
No moral victories, but if you want to see the Lions play at the level of an NFC contender, they did just that tonight. Of course, there will be a lot to discuss again: training results, playing, etc. But overall, the Lions hung with the Cowboys. At the very least, that should give them hope heading into January. — Bouncy
The Cowboys finish the regular season undefeated at home
It took one final minute, but the Cowboys would finish the regular season undefeated at home. They can give some thanks to the fact that the Lions decided to go for it twice on three separate occasions following their final touchdown. Eventually, the Cowboys found a way to end their two-game losing streak. It will be fun to watch these two play next month. — John Machoda, Cowboys beat writer
The great day of the lamb
There is no greater star than the Lamb on Saturday night. The Pro Bowl wide receiver had a career game with 13 receptions for 227 yards and a touchdown. In the process, he set franchise single-season records for receptions and receiving yards. Both recordings were conducted by former participant Michael Irwin.
After Lamb wasn't targeted in the second and third quarters last week in Miami, it was clear he would be targeted more often early on. — Machota
Ebbs and Flows in Dallas
The Cowboys defense had a roller coaster evening, with highs and some troubling lows. More points were turnovers, namely highlight-reel interceptions by Jordan Lewis and Donovan Wilson. Wilson's interception, in particular, was a huge play in a clutch moment that had the potential to end the game.
However, after some questionable play calls, the Lions had enough clock to pull off one last gasp. The Cowboys' defense worked, and Goff duly ran them down the field for a touchdown. — Saad Yusuf, Cowboys beat writer
The highlight of the game
(Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)