Final

Lions 34

(4-0, 3-0 away)

Cowboys 30

(2-2, 1-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 2, 2011

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX 

1 2 3 4 T
DET 0 3 14 1734
DAL 7 13 10 030

Top Performers

Passing: T. Romo (DAL) - 331 YDS, 3 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: F. Jones (DAL) - 16 CAR, 57 YDS

Receiving: L. Robinson (DAL) - 7 REC, 116 YDS

Lions stay unbeaten as turnovers, Calvin Johnson-fueled rally bury Cowboys

Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matthew Stafford took the final snap, dropped to a knee and tucked the ball under his jersey for safekeeping.

He wanted a souvenir to remind him of his first NFL game in his hometown -- not that he, or anyone else involved, is likely to forget this one.

A week after turning a 20-point halftime deficit into an overtime win, the Lions provided further proof they're a legitimate contender by turning a 24-point, third-quarter deficit into a 34-30 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Detroit's defense started the rally with interceptions returned for touchdowns on consecutive drives, then Stafford and Calvin Johnson took over from there, hooking up for a pair of touchdowns in the final period, including a 2-yarder for the winning points with 1:39 left.

"It's crazy how it happens," Stafford said. "When it was 27-3, we knew we had to start making plays. Once we did, we started catching fire."

Detroit is 4-0 and has won an NFL-best eight straight games. This also was its franchise-record fifth straight road win, avenging a loss here last November that had been its NFL-record 26th straight road loss.

Tony Romo and the Cowboys (2-2) continued to show there's no lead and no deficit too big for them. They blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead for the first time in franchise history in the opener, and this was their largest lead blown in a loss in franchise history. Dallas' previous biggest blown lead was 21 against Washington on Nov. 28, 1965, when the Cowboys led 21-0 in the second quarter on the way to a 34-31 loss.

Meltdowns against the Jets in Week 1 and this one are bookends around two straight late-game victories pulled out by Romo despite a cracked rib.

The rib wasn't to blame this time, but Romo certainly will be because of the two interceptions returned for TDs, and another interception with 4:13 left that set up Detroit's winning score. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was quick to defend his quarterback, saying: "I have a lot of faith in Romo. This doesn't touch that."

This was a bizarre way for the Cowboys to end an NFL-record streak of nine straight games decided by a field goal or less. The final play was wacky, too, with Felix Jones catching a short pass with no one around him on fourth-and-20, then running out of bounds after only gaining 8 yards.

So much for a 3-1 start and a bye week to savor it. Instead, Dallas players will suffer through an additional week of questions about Romo's leadership and their overall inability to put games away. At least they'll have time to get over all their injuries, not that those were much of a factor in this loss.

"Today and over the next week or two, it's going to be difficult to look back at it, but at some point here, we're going to move on," Romo said. "There's a lot of guys doing a lot of good things. We'll evaluate it and get better from it."

Stafford had dozens of relatives and friends in the crowd, including his high school coach, which may have been part of the reason he struggled early.

His first pass to Johnson was intercepted, leading to Dallas' first touchdown. The defense was constantly in his face, forcing rushed throws or throwaways. He was only 9 of 23 at the half.

Once the interceptions were returned for touchdowns, Stafford looked like a different man. He stood strong in the pocket, and did a better job of finding Johnson.

They connected on a 23-yarder in the end zone, when Johnson reached over three defenders, to make it 30-24. After a third interception by Romo led to a 51-yard field goal by Jason Hanson, Stafford and Johnson connected for the winner. It came against tight coverage on a play when the Cowboys had 12 defenders on the field.

The Lions especially enjoyed Johnson being the late-game star because earlier this week Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Johnson would only be Dallas' third-best receiver.

"He got a lot of respect for him for not being the best receiver on their team," said Stafford, who finished 21 of 43 for 240 yards. "(Ryan) throws a couple of guys on him here and there."

Johnson caught eight passes for 96 yards, and tied Cris Carter's NFL record of catching two TDs in four straight games. He already was the first player in NFL history to do it in the first three games of a season, so he stretched that mark, too.

Romo finished 34 of 47 for 331 yards, with three touchdowns. He wore a protective vest and needed a painkilling injection, but did just fine the first 2½ quarters.

He was on a roll of completing 13 of 14 passes, the only incompletion a clock-stopping spike, when his good buddy Bobby Carpenter made a leaping interception and a weaving 35-yard return for a touchdown. The Lions were still down 27-10, so it seemed harmless -- except that it gave Detroit players hope. Cornerback Chris Houston provided more when he returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown on the next series.

"The key play of the game was Bobby Carpenter," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "We had no juice before that. It wasn't the game-winner, it didn't turn the tide completely. But it did give us the spark and got things going a little bit."

Dez Bryant was among the early stars for Dallas, catching two touchdown passes before Johnson even had a single grab, and Laurent Robinson had seven catches for 116 yards.

Bryant's only big moment in the second half was a diving catch overturned on a challenge by Schwartz. Schwartz appeared to curse at Bryant after the play.

Game notes


Dallas' Sean Lissemore, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive lineman, returned the opening kickoff of the second half 38 yards for the Cowboys' longest return this season. ... Schwartz dedicated the win to Mike Heimerdinger, his former colleague in Tennessee. Heimerdinger died Friday of cancer at age 58. ... Dallas safety Gerald Sensabaugh left with a concussion, while Detroit safety Amari Spievey left with a hamstring problem and his backup Erik Coleman hurt his left ankle.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DET
DAL
1st Downs1825
Passing 1st downs
1319
Rushing 1st downs
34
1st downs from penalties
22
3rd down efficiency
4-135-13
4th down efficiency
0-00-2
Total Plays6075
Total Yards303434
Yards per play5.15.8
Total Drives1115
Passing240321
Comp-Att
21-4334-47
Yards per pass
5.66.7
Interceptions thrown
13
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-01-10
Rushing63113
Rushing Attempts
1727
Yards per rush
3.74.2
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-12-6
Penalties10-757-33
Turnovers13
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
13
Defensive / Special Teams TDs20
Possession23:2136:39

Passing Leaders

DETC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Stafford21/432405.6210-0
DALC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Romo34/473317.0331-10

Rushing Leaders

DETCARYDSAVGTDLG
Best11474.3019
Williams4143.508
DALCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jones16573.6019
Choice6396.5014

Receiving Leaders

DETRECYDSAVGTDLG
Johnson89612.0223
Pettigrew66410.7022
DALRECYDSAVGTDLG
Robinson711616.6044
Witten89411.8137

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERDETDAL
dalTD9:34Dez Bryant 25 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 55 yds, 3:55
07
SECOND QUARTERDETDAL
dalTD11:03Dez Bryant 6 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 71 yds, 2:25
014
dalFG7:09Dan Bailey 41 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 26 yds, 2:48
017
detFG4:13Jason Hanson 33 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 47 yds, 2:20
317
dalFG0:01Dan Bailey 35 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 63 yds, 1:28
320
THIRD QUARTERDETDAL
dalTD12:27Jason Witten 1 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 46 yds, 2:37
327
detTD10:30Bobby Carpenter 34 Yard Interception Return (Jason Hanson Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 35 yds, 0:00
1027
detTD5:48Chris Houston 56 Yard Interception Return (Jason Hanson Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 31 yds, 4:38
1727
dalFG0:41Dan Bailey 23 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 75 yds, 4:57
1730
FOURTH QUARTERDETDAL
detTD13:47Calvin Johnson 23 Yard Pass From Matthew Stafford (Jason Hanson Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yds, 2:00
2430
detFG4:27Jason Hanson 51 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 14 yds, 3:14
2730
detTD1:44Calvin Johnson 2 Yard Pass From Matthew Stafford (Jason Hanson Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 32 yds, 1:35
3430

Research Notes

From Elias: The loss shouldn't be a huge shock for Cowboy fans as this already marks the second time this season the Cowboys have blow a double-digit 4th-quarter lead. Dallas lost against the Jets in Week 1 despite leading by 14 points in the 4th which set the franchise record.
  [+]
From Elias: The Lions have won 5 straight road games. That is the longest road win streak in team history.
From Elias: Today is the 1st time in Eagles franchise history that they gained 500 yards of offense at home and lost.
NEXT LEVEL: Entering Week 4, the Lions were one of only four defensive units in the NFL that had not recorded a sack when sending five or more pass rushers this season. Despite facing an opposing quarterback with injured ribs, the Lions once again failed to pressure the quarterback and found themselves in an early 27-3 hole. The Lions blitzed with five or more pass rushers on just 10.6 percent of dropbacks allowing Romo to complete four of five passes including a touchdown while recording no sacks in the game.

StaffordJohnson Matt Stafford targeted Calvin Johnson four times on throws inside the field numbers during the fourth quarter Sunday, completing all four and connecting for a touchdown.

  [+]
NEXT LEVEL: Coming out of halftime, the Detroit Lions used their defense to dig themselves out of a 20-3 hole. After allowing Tony Romo's third touchdown early in the third quarter, the Lions used a four-man rush to pick off Romo three times, returning two for touchdowns.
  [+]
From Elias: Calvin Johnson set/tied some NFL records Sunday - 2nd player in NFL history with at least 2 Rec TD in 4 straight games within a single season (Cris Carter 1995) - 1st player in NFL history with at least 2 Rec TD in a team's 1st 4 games of a season - Ties for most Rec TD in a team's 1st 4 games of a season (8 with Bobby Walston in 1954)
The Lions have 2 Int Ret TD against the Cowboys. It's the 2nd time in the 30 years in which the Lions have 2 Int Ret TD in the same game. The other time was in Week 6 of the 2005 season The last time Tony Romo had at least 2 Int returned for TD was in Week 5 in 2007 on a Monday night at the Bills. Romo threw 5 picks total in the game, 2 of which were returned for scores.

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