clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lions vs. Cowboys 2015 results: 3 things we learned from Dallas' 24-20 wild card win

Tony Romo led a late touchdown drive to cap a dramatic rally in Dallas.

You can put those Dallas Cowboys choking story lines away for the time being. On third-and-goal with 2:32 remaining, Tony Romo found Terrance Williams for the go-ahead touchdown to cap a thrilling rally and give Dallas a 24-20 playoff win over the Detroit Lions.

Detroit had its chance for a comeback, taking possession with two and a half minutes remaining. But on fourth-and-3 from the Cowboys' 42-yard line, Demarcus Lawrence sacked Mathew Stafford with a minute left to seal the game.

It was the Cowboys making mistakes early, blowing coverage for a long Golden Tate touchdown and roughing the punter in the end zone to spark what ended up being a 99-yard Lions scoring drive. A 76-yard explosion from Terrence Williams gave Dallas a brief spark, but a pair of Detroit field goals put the Lions back up, 20-7, midway through the third quarter.

But then the momentum began to shift. Dallas began leaning on DeMarco Murray, who did the heavy lifting during a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that cut the deficit to six. After tacking on a field goal on their next drive, the Cowboys' offense came back onto the field trailing, 20-17, with just over eight minutes remaining.

Buoyed by a fourth-down conversion and two third-down defensive penalties by the Lions, the Cowboys marched 59 yards in close to six minutes, capping the drive with Romo's 8-yard completion to Williams, who scored twice in the game.

1) Tony Romo is the hero.

Sure, the Lions defense helped him out with two drive-sustaining penalties on that final march, but give Romo credit for finally stepping out from under the choke-artist perception. He completed five of his eight passes, including a clutch 21-yard strike to Jason Witten on fourth-and-6. The game-winning throw was vintage Romo, sliding in the pocket to buy time before threading the needle through multiple defenders.

crs

After a slow start, Romo finished the day 19-of-31 for 293 yards and two touchdowns.

2) The Cowboys O-line struggled early but came on late.

Early on, Detroit's big, bruising defensive front was having its way with the Cowboys' offensive line. The Lions -- who led the league in run defense this season -- held Murray to just 30 yards on seven carries and sacked Romo three times in the first half.

But midway through the third quarter, an offensive line studded with three Pro Bowlers began enforcing its will. The Cowboys made a concerted effort to begin feeding the ball to Murray, who finished with 75 yards and a touchdown. Romo was sacked three times in the second half, but all three came because Romo held onto the ball too long. With the O-line clicking, Dallas scored 17 of its 24 points in the second half.

3) The Lions offense started hot ... then stopped.

Just four plays into the Lions' first possession, Tate burned safety Barry Church on a nasty double-route and housed Stafford's on-target pass.

tate

The Lions' second possession was a real back-breaker. Having pinned Detroit inside their own 1-yard line with a spectacular punt, the Cowboys held them to a quick three-and-out. But a controversial roughing-the-punter penalty in the end zone gave the Lions new life and they responded by marching down for the first 99-yard playoff drive in the last 12 years, capping it off with a nifty 18-yard scamper by Reggie Bush.

But from that point on the Lions' offense dried up, managing just a pair of field goals over the next three quarters.