The Dallas Cowboys (13-2) defeated the Detroit Lions (9-6), 42-21, in a Week 16 matchup at AT&T Stadium on Monday Night Football.
Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has been great all season. He can make plays inside and outside the pocket, and the rookie doesn't crack under pressure. He always keeps his composure, especially during crucial moments.
Prescott made some great throws on Monday night, in his best game of the season. At the same time, he avoided turnovers and kept drives alive. On the Cowboys’ first possession of the game, the rookie signal caller threw a 21-yard touchdown to receiver Brice Butler to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead. Butler ran down the seam, and Prescott found him while standing in a clean pocket.
Prescott struck again late in the second quarter. He capped off a six-play, 51-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dez Bryant. Prescott launched a deep pass to the end zone, and Bryant caught the pass one-handed with cornerback Johnson Bademosi draped all over him. Dallas tied the game at 21.
The rookie found Bryant again in the fourth quarter, throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to the veteran receiver to put the game out of reach at 42-21.
Prescott completed 15 of 20 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He had a nearly perfect 148.3 QB rating.
The Cowboys had the option of resting their starters with the NFC’s top seed locked down, but head coach Jason Garrett had said earlier in the day that he wanted his players to stay in sync. It worked. Prescott and Co. are going to be hard to beat in January.
Dez Bryant’s big night
Not content with catching a pair of touchdown passes, Bryant threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten in the third quarter on a reverse. He caught the toss, he stopped, and threw the ball to Witten in the end zone.
Bryant finished the game with 70 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and a passing touchdown. He passed Michael Irvin for the second-most touchdowns in franchise history (67), and became only the second receiver since the merger with two receiving touchdowns and a passing score in the same game (David Patten of the Patriots was the other one; he did it in 2001).
Dallas’ stellar offensive line
Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are phenomenal players, but they also play behind the best offensive line in the NFL. This unit does a great job of protecting Prescott and creating rushing lanes for Elliot. Detroit only sacked Prescott once.
On Elliott’s 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, he took the handoff, cut back to the right side, and found a big rushing lane to run through. The rookie running back finished the game with 80 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and then spent most of the second half on the sideline with the game in hand.
Dallas’ offensive line is one of the biggest reasons why its offense has been clicking on all cylinders this season.
They did get a scare when left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a knee injury in the third quarter. He left the game and didn’t return, but reports said afterward that he was fine.
Zenner ran wild
Throughout most of the season, the Detroit Lions struggled on the ground and had to depend on Matthew Stafford’s arm to gain yards and score. However, that was not the case tonight.
Running back Zach Zenner took a lot of pressure off Stafford by running the ball effectively and scoring touchdowns. Zenner did a great job of running forward and picking up tough yards. He also showed that he has the speed to break off long runs.
On Detroit’s first drive of the game, he scored on a 7-yard run. Zenner went untouched into the end zone. He wasn't done scoring touchdowns, though.
With the game tied at 14 midway through the second quarter, Zenner scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Lions a 21-14 lead.
Zenner didn't do much in the second half with the Lions trailing, but he finished with 67 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Stafford struggles again
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford started the game great. He made some great throws and used his legs to extend plays, resulting in three touchdowns on Detroit’s first three drives of the game. But he struggled after that.
Stafford threw an ugly interception to Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox early in the third quarter on a side-armed pass. Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr tried to catch the interception, but the ball bounced off his hands and landed in Wilcox’s.
That turnover led to a 1-yard rushing touchdown by rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott to give the Cowboys a 28-21 lead.
Stafford has been struggling as of late. He has one touchdown and four interceptions in his last three games, after throwing just five picks in the 13 games before that. That needs to change if Detroit wants to clinch the NFC North against the Packers next week. He threw for 260 yards and an interception, but he did have an excellent rugby-style touchdown in the first half of the game.
What’s next for both teams
The Cowboys will travel to the City of Brotherly Love for a Week 17 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas has already clinched the No 1. seed in the NFC, so they should not have to worry about anything.
The Lions will head back home for a Week 17 showdown against the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North crown.