Cowboys vs. Lions: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Dallas

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 20:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys calls out the play in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 20, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania.The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 17-3.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Opportunistic plays and turnovers nearly allowed the Dallas Cowboys to walk away with a victory.

Unfortunately, the defense couldn't stop Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions on their last-minute, game-winning drive.

Final Score: Dallas 30, Detroit 31

Dallas Cowboys Game Grades
Position Unit1st-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseC-C+
Run OffenseD+D
Pass DefenseB-F
Run DefenseC+D-
Special TeamsB+B+
vs. Lions Week 8

Game Analysis for the Dallas Cowboys

Pass Offense: Quarterback Tony Romo was not particularly efficient against the Detroit Lions.

Romo did throw three touchdown passes, but he was just 14-of-30 for 203 yards on the afternoon.

Had the Cowboys found a way to sustain drives with a more consistent passing attack, they may have been able to keep the Lions offense off the field and out of the end zone when it mattered.

Run Offense: The Cowboys have struggled to make plays on the ground with starter DeMarco Murray still sidelined with a knee injury.

Rookie Joseph Randle led the team with just 26 yards on 14 carries, and Dallas never established a viable alternative.

Pass Defense: Dallas had difficulty trying to cover Lions wideout Calvin Johnson all game. The man known as Megatron finished the game with 14 receptions for an astounding 329 yards and a touchdown.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford finished the game 33-of-48 for 488 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, but it was Johnson who did most of the damage for the Lions.

Run Defense: Covering Johnson was an issue for the Cowboys secondary and containing the Detroit running game was a consistent problem for the Dallas defensive front.

Reggie Bush led Detroit with 92 yards and a score, but it was Stafford who found the end zone on the game’s final drive.

Special Teams: While the Dallas special teams unit was average for most of the afternoon, a pair of big performers did impact this game.

Kicker Dan Bailey started the scoring for Dallas with a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter. He hit another 53-yarder, and a 47-yard field goal late, while kick returner Dwayne Harris set up the Cowboys’ third touchdown with a huge 56-yard return.

Coaching: Dallas’ success against Detroit appeared to be more of a reflection on the players’ execution than on game-planning by the coaching staff.

The Cowboys were extremely one-dimensional on offense and surrendered huge chunks of yards on defense. If not for forcing four turnovers, Dallas would have likely been out of this game early.

Expect defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to answer some questions about his decision to only rush four defenders on Detroit’s desperate, game-winning drive.

/Getty Images

First-Half Analysis for the Dallas Cowboys

Pass Offense: For quarterback Tony Romo and the rest of the Dallas offense, yards were hard to come by for the majority of the first half.

Through two quarters, Romo has completed just eight of 17 pass attempts for 66 yards.

Run Offense: The Cowboys clearly miss starting back DeMarco Murray, who is still out with a knee injury.

Rookie Joseph Randle has done a respectable job of filling in, but was not called upon much in the first half.

Randle only carried the ball in the first half and gained just 19 yards on the ground. As a team, Dallas has just 30 rushing yards through two quarters.

Pass Defense: Trying to contain Lions wideout Calvin Johnson is never an easy task, as the Cowboys found out late in the first quarter. Johnson took a short pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford and turned it into an 87-yard gain. He then scored the first points of the game.

Aside from finding Johnson, however, Stafford has not had significant success against the Dallas secondary.

Stafford was 13-of-23 for 192 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but 15 of those yards came from Johnson.

Linebacker Sean Lee is the first-half MVP for Dallas as his second interception of the afternoon set up the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the game.

Run Defense: The Lions were mostly successful on the ground in the first half. Starting back Reggie Bush had 44 yards on 10 carries and Detroit racked up 62 total yards on the ground.  

Special Teams: Kicker Dan Bailey provides Dallas’ first points of the game with a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Dallas has been average in the special teams department otherwise. Punter Chris Jones punted four times for a pedestrian 37 yards per kick average.

Coaching: Head coach Jason Garrett did not put together the best game plan in the first half.

The Cowboys have not been very successful offensively. If not for Lee’s two picks, the Cowboys would likely be facing a two-score halftime defecit.


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