A failed last minute drive resulted in a heartbreaking 24-20 loss for the Detroit Lions in a first round Wild Card playoff matchup against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday evening. The loss extends the Lions playoff losing streak to 8 games, their last victory coming in 1992 against the Cowboys.
The Lions held a lead for the entire contest until Tony Romo’s 8 yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams swung the lead in Dallas’ favor for the first time with under three minutes remaining. A Matthew Stafford fumble on Detroit’s final drive would ultimately spell the Lions’ demise.
The Lions got things started early in the first quarter, as Matthew Stafford connected with Golden Tate across the middle for a 51-yard touchdown strike.
After a fortunate bounce on a subsequent Cowboys punt, the Lions were backed up inside their own one yard line. Dallas appeared to force a three and out before a running into the kicker penalty provided the Lions with new life. Over 14 plays and more than 7 minutes of possession time, Reggie Bush would cap a monumental drive with an 18-yard gallop to pay dirt. The 99-yard push would mark the first time a team had completed a 99-yard touchdown drive in the last 12 years of NFL playoff action.
Dallas’ first four possessions would each end with punts before Terrance Williams was able to slip loose for a 76-yard touchdown reception from Tony Romo with 1:50 remaining in the first half.
Detroit tacked on a Matt Prater 39 yard field goal that slipped just inside the uprights and give the Lions a 17-7 lead heading into the half.
After Matthew Stafford’s first pass of the second half was tipped and picked, the Cowboys threatened immediately. However, an impressive defensive stand, capped by a Ziggy Ansah sack, induced a 41-yard field goal attempt from Dan Bailey that’d sail wide left.
A second Prater field goal (37 yards) would open up a 20-7 Lions lead before the Cowboys answered with an impressive 80-yard drive capped by a 1-yard, fourth down touchdown run from DeMarco Murray.
Then the madness began.
The Cowboys opened the deciding quarter by having their scoring drive stomped out decisively on the heels of back-to-back Ndamukong Suh sacks. Dallas salvaged with a 51-yard Bailey field goal.
A controversial withdrawn pass interference call then killed the Lions’ following drive. Contact appeared to be made on tight end Brandon Pettigrew by a defender who also appeared to not be making a play on the ball. However, after an initial flag was thrown, it was rescinded well after the play had been completed. The end result was a shanked 10 yard punt from Sam Martin that would hand possession back to the Cowboys in prime scoring position.
Dallas would convert, as Tony Romo found Terrance Williams for his second touchdown reception of the night, on an 8-yard toss with 2:32 remaining to give Dallas their first lead of the night, 24-20.
With the season on the line, the Lions’ playoff lives flashed before their eyes when Matthew Stafford fumbled while backed up near his own 20 yard line. Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence snatched up the loose ball, only to fumble once more, leading to a wild sequence in which the Lions would ultimately retain possession.
But redemption was the name of the game, as Lawrence would force another Stafford fumble later in the drive, recovering the loose ball and hanging on, essentially sealing the Lions playoff fate.