ReFo: Lions @ Cowboys, Wild Card Round
Mike Renner looks at a selection of standouts from the Cowboys' wild card win over Detroit.
ReFo: Lions @ Cowboys, Wild Card Round
After a fairly uneventful first three playoff games, the weekend finale finally brought some drama. In the Early going the Lions had the upper hand with their run defense getting the better of the Cowboys’ rush offense in a battle of two elite units. Detroit capitalized with a 51-yard touchdown to Golden Tate and then a 18-yard Reggie Bush touchdown run to go up 14-0 heading into the second quarter.
With Tony Romo just a little off the whole first half, the Cowboys failed to score until Terrance Williams got the offense started with a 76-yard touchdown catch and run right before the half. Down 20-7 midway through the third quarter, Dallas’ defense kicked it up a notch and didn’t allow Detroit to score on their final three possessions. Over that same time, the Cowboys scored a touchdown, kicked a field goal, and then scored the go-ahead touchdown to cap a 13-play drive on another pass from Romo to Williams.
The Lions were given second life on their final drive after a Stafford fumble was picked up and then subsequently fumbled by DeMarcus Lawrence only to be recovered by Reilly Reiff. It was fitting though that the drive would eventually come to an end on a fourth down sack/fumble from Lawrence. The Cowboys 24-20 victory means they’ll be headed to Green Bay next weekend to take on the Packers.
Detroit Lions – Performances of Note
Garrett Reynolds, RG: +4.0
Breakdown: After Travis Swanson went down early in the game it looked like the left side of the Lions’ offensive line would be a serious issue. It ended up being the complete opposite, though, as Reynolds had himself a monster day. The right guard was outstanding against the run, sealing out linebackers at the second level on multiple occasions. He also allowed just a single pressure on the day.
Signature Stat: Reynolds’ +4.0 grade is the highest of any game in his career.
James Ihedigbo, S: -2.2
Breakdown: The career year for Ihedigbo comes to a close with back-to-back dreadful games. The safety was targeted just twice for 37 yards, but two of his coverage errors were devastating. The first came on the touchdown right before the half when he took a poor angle coming down from safety in 2-man coverage and turned a medium gain into a 76-yard touchdown. The other came on the critical 4th-and-6 with 6:00 remaining in the fourth quarter when Jason Witten left Ihedigbo in the dust on an in route after the Lions safety had inside leverage in man coverage.
Signature Play: Ihedigbo’s bad angle on the touchdown right before the half turned the tide in the game and was an extremely costly mistake.
DeAndre Levy, LB: +1.0
Breakdown: An up-and-down day for Levy who was outstanding against the run, but got exposed against the pass. Levy yielded four of six targets for 64 yards and had an extremely costly holding penalty on a third down in Dallas’ last drive of the game.
Signature Stat: Levy’s two total stops were the fewest he’s had in a game all season.
Dallas Cowboys – Performances of Note
Jeremy Mincey, DE: +3.8
Breakdown: A constant thorn in the Lions left side all day long. Mincey was in Stafford’s face seemingly every time he got to pin his ears back and rush the passer. The defensive end tallied a sack and five hurries on 24 pass rushes to go along with batted pass. Mincey’s pass rushing move of choice was the bull rush, which he used to generate four of his quick pressures against Reilly Reiff and Rob Sims.
Signature Play: On the first play of the second half, Mincey worked himself into Stafford’s passing lane and swatted the ball up in the air into the waiting arms of Kyle Wilber.
Terrance Williams, LT: -1.4
Breakdown: Maybe the Cowboys should have Williams commit more penalties. The second-year receiver was flagged twice in this one, for an offensive pass interference and a false start, and on both occasions he caught a touchdown on the very next play. His grade is negatively affected by the multiple penalties and almost costly drop on the last drive, but there is no denying that Williams left his impact on Sunday’s game.
Signature Play: It was just a simple post route, but Williams got enough separation to clear Cassius Vaughn’s initial coverage and then had enough speed to take it 76 yards to the house.
Tony Romo, QB: -2.8
Breakdown: The end result is a win, but it wasn’t pretty at times for Romo. By our count he had seven throws that were simply off target and weren’t impacted by a defender. That’s a high number on just 31 attempts. His yardage stats were also aided greatly by 182 yards after catch from receivers, with Bryant and Williams accounting for over 100 on two throws alone. Romo made the throws when it counted, though, with two perfect balls at the goal line to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Signature Play: After taking a bad sack to end a previous drive, Romo again waited in the pocket for 5+ seconds and took a hit from Ziggy Ansah before finding Terrance Williams in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
PFF Game Ball
Jeremy Mincey brought the disruption the Cowboys needed to slow down the Lions’ passing attack and limit Detroit to just three second half points.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner