A little Tony Romo magic here, a few questionable calls there, and what have you got? The Dallas Cowboys advancing to the NFC Divisional playoffs to face the Green Bay Packers.
After falling behind 17-7 at halftime and trailing 20-7 late in the third quarter, the Cowboys came roaring back to stop the Detroit Lions 24-20. Romo threw two touchdown passes to Terrance Williams, including the game-winner with 2:32 to go in the fourth quarter that came following a couple controversial penalties on the Lions and a surprising non-call on the Cowboys.
Indeed, it was this play that was called pass interference, only for the flag to get picked up, that seemed to turn the game in the Cowboys’ favor:
Detroit had been driving with a 20-17 lead midway through the quarter. Matthew Stafford’s third down pass intended for Brandon Pettigrew had fallen incomplete, but referee Pete Morelli then announced what looked like a relatively obvious pass interference call on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens. After some discussion, however, the referees decided to pick up the flag and simply rule the pass incomplete. Mere minutes later, the Cowboys drove down the field for the game-winning touchdown.
Romo had a solid day through their air, completing 19 of 31 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. DeMarco Murray got off to a slow start, but ran for 52 yards and a touchdown in the second half to finish with 19 carries, 75 yards, and the one TD.
Stafford fell to 0-18 on the road against teams with a winning record, but acquitted himself relatively well as went 28 of 42 for 323 yards, a touchdown, and an interception on a tipped ball. Golden Tate (6/89/1 TD) and Calvin Johnson (5/85/0 TD) were both solid if unspectacular in the passing game, and the Lions struggled at times to find consistency in the run game as they gained a total of just 90 yards on the ground as a team.
Next week, the Cowboys will travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers in the first playoff matchup between the two teams since the 1967 Ice Bowl. The Cowboys went 8-0 on the road this season, while the Packers posted an equally immaculate 8-0 record at home. After next week, one of them will have a season-ending L.
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