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Detroit Lions 31, Dallas Cowboys 30, Hunt Report: Matthew Stafford’s Late Heroics Steal Victory

October 27th, 2013 at 5:39 PM
By Max DeMara

The Detroit Lions badly needed a better effort to shake off a heartbreaking loss to the Cincinnati Bengals which included a sprinkling of the franchise's typical meltdowns. Though plenty of those same elements existed this Sunday, this time, the Lions wrote a better ending.

In the midst of a fast paced second half, the game had the feel of a last possession wins type affair. With a major offensive holding penalty on the Dallas Cowboys throwing the game in doubt late, the Lions' high octane offense had the last say. Thanks to Matthew Stafford's impressive improvisation, Detroit grabbed a 31-30 lead which was not relinquished. From down ten to winning? It was a stunning reversal of fortune to say the least. The Hunt Report attempts to wrap its collective head around an important win for the Lions.

Dez Bryant Will Never Be Calvin Johnson. When Johnson was called out this week, he responded, setting a franchise record for receiving yardage in a game (329) and making plenty of big catches along the way, including the biggest coming late in the fourth quarter with his team trying to win the game. Meanwhile, Bryant was throwing multiple temper tantrums, including an embarrassing display in which he seemed to dismiss veteran Jason Witten, who was pleading with Bryant to keep his head in the game. Johnson, despite his struggles which included a few drops and a fumble, kept his head in the game and never pouted. That's why "Megatron" will always be ahead of Bryant. Looking for something Bryant can't do? How about have a little class.

When Detroit's Defensive Tackles Come To Play, They're The Best In The League. Credit Detroit's win to the Lions' defensive line, as well. Early in the game, Tony Romo had to throw on the run plenty, which forced his hand and created plenty of incompletions. Until late in the second half, Romo never felt comfortable in the pocket. The Lions didn't sack Romo at all, but they did hit him four times, while getting enough defenders in his face to help rush his decision making. Often times, the Lions' front four doesn't play well and it looks like a question of motivation. Sunday, they elevated their game a week after being dominated.

The Lions' Defense, Overall, Played Well. Given short fields and many sudden change situations, the Lions came up big with several important stops. Considering the injuries and the rotation of players, that feat shouldn't be understated. Players like Don Carey, Israel Idonije, Travis Lewis and company came up big. The secondary had it's notable problems, but credit the team for coming up with the stops when they were needed down the stretch, including holding Dallas to a long field goal late. The Cowboys could never really put the game away, and that was a testament to Detroit's relentless hunger on defense.

Mental Problems On Offense Continue. Everything can't be good when a team has to rally from ten points down in a game that statistics say they should have dominated. Where to begin? There was Reggie Bush's awful fumble, Stafford's terrible interception, and Johnson's tough fumble. The Lions didn't look ready to play much of the day, and most of the time, that will hurt them against good teams. It wasn't the best performance of Jim Schwartz and staff, either, but in the end, nobody will remember Detroit's mental lapses thanks to the last minute drive. The win wasn't without issue, however.

Matthew Stafford Had A Terribly Great Day. For the most part, Stafford was erratic, making a few terrible decisions (Sean Lee's second interception, anyone?) and taking a terrible sack late in the game. He was inaccurate at times. He threw the ball too hard. However, in crunch time, Stafford delivered on the game's last drive when he had to, flinging several heat seeking missiles to Detroit receivers. From the side armed antics to the never say die approach, Stafford is beginning to feel a bit like this generation's Brett Favre. After all, Favre would routinely steal victory from the jaws of certain defeat. Stafford did that in a big way Sunday.

Lions? Of course Johnson, Stafford and company get the nod, but special credit goes to Kris Durham, who made perhaps the biggest catch of the year to set the Lions up with a short field late. DeAndre Levy, though he didn't grab any interceptions, was phenomenal in run support, and Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly did a great job on the line.

Lambs? Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis had a rough day multiple times. Brandon Pettigrew had a notable drop on the game's final drive, and Reggie Bush, though he ground out yardage, had a tough afternoon with a big fumble. Stafford, thanks to his messy afternoon, amazingly qualifies for both categories. Joseph Fauria, for some reason, appeared to be benched, as well.

Stat Of The Day: 623, the stunning total amount of offensive yards the Lions put up on Sunday, just a mere 112 less than the NFL record of 735, which was collected by the Los Angeles Rams in 1951. Even more stunning? Nearly half was collected by Calvin Johnson. The Lions moved the ball at will against a Dallas secondary which was much maligned coming in. Leaving Detroit, they will be even more maligned in their next game.

What About The Five Things? Coming into this wild affair, we said it would be important to watch which secondary got the most stops. Detroit's did (barely) but it was awful close. The Lions' defensive line didn't sack Romo, but they did take Travis Frederick to task at times and generate heat on the pocket. DeMarcus Ware didn't play and that hurt the Cowboys' pass rush, which only registered one sack. Kevin Ogletree didn't make an impact, and Detroit's ground game was quietly very effective, pounding out 143 yards to help in the win.

Stalking The Next Prey? The Lions head for their bye week next Sunday. After that, they'll take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 10

The "Later" Limerick:

Matthew Stafford comes of age

While Dez Bryant explodes with rage

The Lions stole a huge win,

It really was a sin

Calvin Johnson? He has power to quietly amaze.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

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Tags: Calvin Johnson, Darius Slay, DeAndre Levy, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Joseph Fauria, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, NFL, Reggie Bush, Tony Romo

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