Final

Lions 21

(4-3, 3-1 away)

Cowboys 31

(3-4, 2-2 home)

1:00 PM ET, October 31, 2004

 

1 2 3 4 T
DET 7 7 0 721
DAL 7 7 7 1031

Testaverde sets up TD, runs for another

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- As the only Dallas Cowboys receiver who'd ever caught a pass in an NFL game, Keyshawn Johnson knew he had to come through big for quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

Allen's Analysis

Eric Allen

Lions at Cowboys: What happened to Harrington and the "road warriors" today?

Without WR Roy Williams, the Lions don't seem to have a consistent way to move the ball. Despite being a rookie, Williams creates mismatches because he's consistently double-teamed. When he's not on the field, opposing teams don't have as much to worry about and are able to bottle up the rest of the offense. This week, that's exactly what the Cowboys were able to do. This game was over once the Cowboys were ahead, and that forced the Lions into being a one-dimensional passing team. Without Williams, the Lions can't pass their way back into games.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.

He didn't. At least, not until the game was on the line.

Johnson ran wrong routes on two of the first balls thrown his way, turning both into interceptions, but redeemed himself with two touchdown catches, including a 38-yarder with 1:54 left that sealed a 31-21 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Testaverde's throws, however, weren't as impressive as his runs.

Two weeks shy of his 41st birthday, Testaverde stunned everyone with a 7-yard run on fourth-and-3 to set up a tying touchdown, and scrambled 3 yards for the go-ahead score, helping Dallas (3-4) end a three-game losing streak.

"If we're going to start to turn this thing around, this is where we needed to start," Testaverde said.

Testaverde was 19-of-24 for 235 yards, offsetting three interceptions with three touchdowns. Yet it was the Cowboys' return to the running game that anchored this victory.

Dallas ran 41 times -- 11 more than in any game this season -- for 127 yards, with Eddie George logging season-bests of 31 carries and 99 yards. That helped the Cowboys keep the ball 17 minutes more than the Lions, only the second time this season they've had the kind of imbalance coach Bill Parcells loves.

"We had to establish the run some way, somehow," George said.

Detroit (4-3) looked more like the team that lost 24 straight road games, not the one that opened this season 3-0 away from home.

The Lions were stopped on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 from the Dallas 37 while down by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. A false start turned a field-goal try into a punt. They also lost a big punt return because of a penalty; wasted a time out before kicking an extra point; and had a defender falling into the end zone trying to down a punt close to the goal line. They also had 10 penalties for 112 yards.

Even more agonizing: With Minnesota getting drubbed by the New York Giants, Detroit could have tied for the NFC North lead.

"This team will do some exciting things at times," coach Steve Mariucci said, "but they'll also do some crazy things."

Joey Harrington came in hoping to erase the memory of his worst NFL game, which was against Dallas last season. The NFL's best fourth-quarter quarterback this season certainly made things interesting with a 50-yard touchdown pass to David Kircus that made it 24-21 with 5:29 left, but the Cowboys answered with Johnson's second TD and Harrington was intercepted on his next snap.

"I didn't feel we had trouble moving the ball," said Harrington, who was 19-of-32 for 255 yards with two touchdowns. "We just made mistakes."

Harrington would've had a better chance if rookie receiver Roy Williams (ankle) hadn't missed the game. He won't get any sympathy from Testaverde because his receivers included two rookies who moved up from the practice squad Saturday and a veteran who'd never caught a pass.

That's why Johnson "was trying to carry too much on my back and got caught in a predicament I didn't really want to be in."

Midway through the second quarter, Testaverde finally went to Johnson for the first time. His throw was outside, but Johnson was looking inside. Dre' Bly intercepted and returned it 55 yards to put Detroit up 14-7.

Dallas' ensuing drive was stuck at fourth-and-3 from the Lions 35 when Testaverde went right up the gut of the defense. The 7-yard run was his first positive gain of the season. Three plays later, he hit Johnson for a 26-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys had a chance to take the lead before halftime, but the next pass to Johnson was intercepted by Brock Marion at the 5. Dallas went ahead in the third quarter. After a long kickoff return and a 43-yard pass-interference penalty on a flea-flicker to Johnson, Testaverde ran in his first touchdown in 54 games, since December 1998.

Billy Cundiff's 40-yard field goal with 6:59 left stretched the lead to 24-14, marking the Cowboys' most points this season. They finished with their most points since beating Detroit 38-7 last year.

Game notes


Kircus reached behind him and pulled the ball away from a defender on his TD. ... Bly had two INTs for the second time in his career. ... Detroit WR Tai Streets didn't catch another pass after a crushing hit from Dallas safety Roy Williams in the second quarter. ... Cowboys CB Tyrone Williams didn't return after straining a hamstring on the fourth play.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERDETDAL
detTD8:35Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:17
137
THIRD QUARTERDETDAL
dalTD14:44Vinny Testaverde, 3 yd run
Drive info: 1 plays, 46 yds, 0:06
1420
SECOND QUARTERDETDAL
det8:18
Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:17
147
THIRD QUARTERDETDAL
dal14:37
Drive info: 1 plays, 46 yds, 0:06
1421
FOURTH QUARTERDETDAL
detTD5:40Touchdown
Drive info: 3 plays, 78 yds, 1:12
2024
det5:29
Drive info: 3 plays, 78 yds, 1:12
2124
FIRST QUARTERDETDAL
detTD11:10Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 74 yds, 3:44
60
FOURTH QUARTERDETDAL
dalTD2:00Touchdown
Drive info: 6 plays, 73 yds, 3:24
2130
FIRST QUARTERDETDAL
det11:02
Drive info: 7 plays, 74 yds, 3:44
70
FOURTH QUARTERDETDAL
dal1:54
Drive info: 6 plays, 73 yds, 3:24
2131
dalFG7:03Billy Cundiff 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 15 yds, 4:11
1424
SECOND QUARTERDETDAL
dalTD2:00Touchdown
Drive info: 11 plays, 81 yds, 6:12
1413
dal1:54
Drive info: 11 plays, 81 yds, 6:12
1414
FIRST QUARTERDETDAL
dalTD1:40Touchdown
Drive info: 15 plays, 83 yds, 9:17
76
dal1:07
Drive info: 15 plays, 83 yds, 9:17
77