Stafford and Calvin lead Lions to victory

10/27/13 in NFL   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Dec 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) congratulates wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falconsat Ford Field. Falcons won 31-18. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY SportsWeek 8’s matchup between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys felt eerily similar to the last time the two teams played.  It was week 4, two years ago and the Cowboys took a 20-3 lead into the half.  But after a series of Tony Romo turnovers, the Lions rallied in the second half, and outscored the Cowboys 17-0 in the 4th quarter to win the game 34-30.
This time around, the Cowboys never led by 3 scores, but they took a 27-17 lead with just 6 minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the game, and just like last time, the lead just wasn’t enough.
The first three quarters ended up being more of a defensive battle than we all predicted.  The Lions forced a total of 7 punts on the day and the Cowboys forced a whopping 4 turnovers.  But the offenses really took over in the 4th quarter, when 41 of the game’s 61 total points were scored.
After Romo’s second touchdown to Dez Bryant on the day put Dallas up 27-17, the Lions struck back with a 3-minute, 80-yard drive, capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run from Reggie Bush.  The Lions defense forced a punt after the Cowboys had the ball for just a minute and Detroit took over on their own 33-yard-line with 2:24 on the clock.  An eight-yard sack put the Lions in a big hole they couldn’t dig out of, and the Cowboys took over on downs with 1:24 to play.
So there it was.  The Cowboys had the ball on the Detroit 31 with 1:24 on the clock and a 27-24 lead.  The Lions only had two timeouts and they used them on the first two plays.  Luckily for Detroit, on the third play, an offensive holding call stopped the clock and even though Dallas tacked on a field goal, the penalty saved about 30 seconds for the Lions.
Matthew Stafford then took over on his own 20-yard-line, with just over a minute to go.  He threw a bullet down the middle of the field to Calvin Johnson to help put things into gear and then after that, he tossed what was quite possibly his most impressive pass as a pro.  Kris Durham was running down the sidelines and had a sizeable lead on his defender, but it was the way that Stafford got it there that made it so special.  The ball flew forty yards but with the speed Stafford put on it, the play seemed to take no time at all.  It hit Durham right in stride and set up another great Stafford pass to Calvin Johnson, which took the Lions down to the Cowboys 1-yard-line with about 20 seconds remaining.
Stafford then pantomimed a spike to his offense, showing an urgency we’ve barely seen from him in his 5 years in the pros.  He rushed up to the line and as he hiked the ball, everyone on the field seemed prepared to take a quick brake - except for Stafford.  Pulling out a wildcard from his sleeve, Stafford stretched the ball over the goal line, between the unprepared Dallas frontline and gave the Lions a victory they sorely needed with a week 9 bye coming up.
In other news, Calvin Johnson put on one of the most incredible displays of receiving you’re likely to ever see.  He caught 14 passes for 329 yards, finishing just shy of Flipper Anderson’s record for most receiving yards in a game (336 in 1989).  He outgained the entire Dallas offense 329 to 268.
Calvin had the performance for the ages, Stafford had the late game heroics, but all in all, it was a great team performance.  They didn’t get down on themselves despite the 4 turnovers and now they can go into the bye with a solid 5-3 record and prepare for the a tough second half to the season.
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