ReFo: Lions @ Cowboys, Wild Card Round

Mike Renner looks at a selection of standouts from the Cowboys' wild card win over Detroit.

| 2 years ago
2014-REFO-WC-DET@DAL

ReFo: Lions @ Cowboys, Wild Card Round


2014-REFO-WC-DET@DALAfter 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

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • It depends on what fails

    I officially fear the Cowboys, their 12th man is more efficient than any Seahawks crowd, watch out, Rodgers.

    Congratulations to Caldwell for trading a 4th and 1 for a 4th and 3 at the same spot, should send his paycheck to Peyton after being outcoached by Garrett, who decided to go for it on 4th and 6, the two front-runners for coach of the year poorly coached their teams to playoff losses but are still going to win over Carroll and Belichick because of “doing more with less”.

    • Jason Williams

      too bad they can’t take that 12th man to Green Bay or Seattle.

      agreed on those 4th down calls – got to play to win, don’t play not to lose.

    • Chris N

      i thought their 12th man was jerry jones

    • Dr__P

      The 12th Man is NOT a generic term for home crowds. Even the Seattle website notes the following:

      ® The term 12th MAN is a trademark of Texas A & M University and its use is pursuant to a license agreement with the university.

      • Jason Williams

        that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m sure it’s true, just dumb.

        • Dr__P

          Not every brown fizzy soda is a Coca Cola either.

          Nor was it dumb when an Aggie student was called from the stands to DRESS ON THE FIELD to be a reserve player during the forerunner to the Cotton Bowl in the 1920’s. E King Gil never played that day but the student body stands willing to be the next one to be called.

  • ToreBear

    When you update the grade after the all-22 is available. Would you mind keeping the original grade so it’s possible to see how much the grade changes when you can see more of the play?

  • Jay

    Loved The Lions Blitz schemes in this one. Beautiful to watch.

    • Jason Williams

      that one where the end actually went into motion to clear out the guard was really pretty to watch. Beautiful execution.

  • Jason Williams

    The Lions’ anger management was on full display in a FIERCE first quarter. I’ve never seen a team play with the kind of anger and intensity they played in that first quarter. They actually got me to root for them.

    That PI no-call was the worst thing I’ve ever seen but you can’t lose a game on one bad call and Detroit did have their chances in the second half.

    • Chris

      I think it was the correct call, but the procedure in which they arrived at it was very shoddy. Speaks more to the hodge-podge All-Star referee crews the NFL tries to use in the playoffs, who have no chemistry because they never work together.

      Hitchens was faceguarding and there was minimal contact to Pettigrew’s right shoulder pad. I’m glad they picked up the flag – Stafford chucked an ill-advised pass at a well guarded Pettigrew praying for a bailout flag.

      • Jason Williams

        Chris you seem like an exceptionally reasonable fellow but I really disagree with you on this one.

        Hitchens has his back to the ball, basically turns himself into a human eclipse while Pettigrew is locating the ball and as Pettigrew goes back to reach for it, Hitchens tackles him in the process of Pettigrew trying to catch the ball.

        All the while Hitchens has his back to the ball and is in no way playing the ball, only playing the receiver.

        That is _textbook_ pass interference.

        Still you have to keep playing and the Lions quit by punting on 4th and 1. So they deserved to lose.

        • Chris

          I do agree the penalty didn’t decide the game. The Lions scored TDs on their first 2 drives and then managed 6 points the rest of the game, while their vaunted defense allowed 3 straight scores to end the game. That’s what lost it.

          As far as the no call, you don’t have to play the ball. Faceguarding is allowed as long as you don’t physically restrict the receiver from making a play on the ball. Meaning incidental contact is allowed without playing the ball as long as you don’t physically impact the play.

          I see incidental contact on the shoulder pad while the refs missed a trio of other penalties (holding on Hitchens, facemask on Pettigrew, no helmet on Dez).

          • mutzki

            I agree. Although Hitchens was between Pettigrew and the ball, Pettigrew never attempted to come back for the football. Had he done that, he would’ve been blocked by Hitchens resulting in PI, however, as that wasn’t the case and he was falling down backwards it was just good coverage and a bad throw.
            Be that as it may, the refs really managed it poorly, with Bryant storming onto the field as well.

          • Chris

            I agree. And they managed it TERRIBLY. And I really don’t get why Dez wasn’t penalized, but I’m just glad they got the call right (IMO).

          • Mike

            Guys come on, its pass interference. Pettigrew was facing the ball he couldn’t have “come back” to it because Hitchens was right there. I’m gonna trust my judgement plus Mike Perreira and other tweets by former NFL refs that it was a clear and obvious PI.
            And it absolutely did change the game. Football is a game of momentum. With that call, Detroit has a chance to go up two scores.
            Lets not forget what makes it even more shady: Dez Bryant storming onto the field and telling the ref its not a flag and then the ref picking it up. Thats a 15 yd penalty in and of itself. There was also a hold (forgot who) on Ansah on the 2nd Romo to Williams TD.
            I’m a big NFL guy and usually take the logical and unemotional approach, but for anyone disagree that the league wanted a GB-DAL matchup and influenced the game is being ignorant. Sorry.

          • Dohkay

            There were multiple holds on that TD pass. Ansah, Jones, and Mosely all were held. Even worse was the Witten 4th down conversion. Suh gets dragged to the ground just in front of Romo and he would have been able to swat the pass down.

          • Jonathan Bennett

            I also saw a Detroit d-lineman getting mugged right next to where the flag was thrown on the second defensive holding penalty of Dallas’ game-winning drive.

            I was hoping the Lions would come back, but I could tell it was over after Megatron’s drop on the last drive. When the officiating gets against you with the game on the line, you have to play past it and Detroit just couldn’t do it.

          • Chris

            No one is arguing about Dez – that seems pretty clear cut. However to say Pettigrew “couldn’t come back” because Hitchens was “in the way” is false IMO. Pettigrew never attempted to come back. He was running full speed the other direction and turned to catch a back-shoulder fade. It just so happened that Hitchens was standing directly in the way with his harms up. That’s not pass interference.

          • Mike

            I dont understand how a receiver running full speed in one direction and seeing the ball in the air is suddenly supposed to stop and come back to a ball in the way that youre suggesting

          • Chris

            That’s the point. Because of the route he was running (back-shoulder fade) he didn’t come back to the ball. It’s not Hitchens’ fault he is standing in the way with his arms up. That’s Stafford’s fault.

          • Matthew Malek

            Even if it wasn’t it was defensive holding. But how are you missing that Hitchens HIT pettigrew before the ball arrived. Thats illegal contact. No way around it Chris. You are missing it.

          • Chris

            Hit? I mean I disagree. He has a hand on his shoulder, which got there because he swiped Pettigrew out of his facemask. I think it qualifies as incidental contact.

          • castlebravo92

            Hitchens knocked Pettigrew’s hand which was grabbing his face mask. Pettigrew initiated contact and pulled Hitchens facemask to pull him off balance.

          • J.R.

            Oh please the first three quarters plenty of bad calls/no-calls went Detroit’s way. Dallas overcame the bad calls against them, Detroit did not. Also you mentioned previous refs, might want to give a listen to Jerry Austin’s view on the Mike and Mike show. As for conspiracy theories, the conspiracy you should be checking out is you coach didn’t go for the kill. Detroit scored 3 points the whole second half, so I’m not sure what momentum you are referring to. Detroit had no momentum the second half, the Dallas D shut them down from the first play of the third quarter. So man up, grow some balls, and grow some for your coach too.

          • Dohkay

            I agree that it’s a stupid rule on plays like that where the QB basically hits the defender in the back. Shouldn’t be PI just cause he isn’t looking. It bails out the QB for a poor throw. That being said, it should have been holding prior to the pass at a minimum.

            What made it even worse were the two calls on 3rd down against the Lions the following drive. If you’re going to let them play then let them play.

          • Chris

            After watching the replay several times, I’d say it should have been holding on Hitchens and a facemask on Pettigrew, replay the down. That is, if Dez stays on the sideline.

          • Dohkay

            I’d be fine with that. Of course if Peyton or Brady throw that pass it’s DPI no questions asked.

          • Gèr

            Honestly considering it looks like Pettigrew pulled the helmet over Hitchens’ eyes so he couldn’t really see anything I’d assume with either Peyton or Brady the pass would have been good enough for a completion.

            However when I’m not being glib, I think there’s probably many cases in which that flag doesn’t get picked up, but there’s also some where it would never have been thrown. And in the end long before the PI both players had already fouled the other so it should have been offsetting no matter what.

          • Dohkay

            Fair point. I hate that call anyways. It bails out underthrown passes where the defender is stride for stride and then the WR has to slow down to catch a bad pass and the defender is flagged. Still, it’s been pretty consistently called the past few years when the NFL decided scoring points was better for ratings.

          • Gèr

            I pretty much completely agree with you here. My feeling while watching it was that it should never have been a penalty as it was a horrid throw that was incomplete because it hit the Hitchens in the back. However by the rules the right call was pass interference.

            So it was a good call from the point of view of the flow of the game, but a bad one if you follow the rules of the game. Whenever that happens you probably have yourself a bad rule.

          • Dohkay

            Right. I think Hitchens deserved a flag for holding but absent of that they should let them play (and after originally calling it DPI they did). If Martin doesn’t shank his punt this entire conversation is likely moot.

          • jack_sprat2

            Guys who can’t get their heads around are track stars, not football players. Give them a boat ticket to Europe, where they can get paid for honest labor.

            There’s a name for really fast guys who can’t flip their hips: Caucasian.

          • Ajit

            I thought the absolute correct call should have been ofsetting penalties. Hitchens clearly didn’t play the ball and that by the letter of the law is PI. Pettigrew also pushed off the face mask which is pi too. That should have been replay of 3rd and 1 imo. And dez is a complete moron honestly.

          • Chris

            Actually faceguarding/not playing the ball is not against the letter of the law. You are allowed to do it as long as you don’t commit any contact that physically restricts the WR from making a play.

            In this case that would be Hitchens’ hand on Pettigrew’s shoulder, which IMO is incidental contact.

          • Ajit

            hmm. I’ve seen it get called most of the time that way though.

          • Chris

            That’s likely because faceguarding and not looking for the ball usually results in contact that restricts the receiver. But it doesn’t have to. That play last night is a perfect example, where it could have been called either way. But faceguarding is not illegal itself, the contact is.

        • Dohkay

          Not sure it was silly to punt. Up to that point they held Dallas to 17 points and 7 of those came on a 76 yard slant that featured a missed tackle. If that punt isn’t shanked it’s Dallas ball around the 10 yard line.

        • Gèr Steffens

          Speaking as a Cowboys fan I’d say the play was probably pass interference (probable because I doubt there’s a game where there’s not at least one worse PI that doesn’t get called).

          However the situation was far more complex than just a PI. Hitchens held Pettigrew and Pettigrew pulled on the facemask of Hitchens. If you ask me both of those were more egregious than the PI. Now of course that would have meant offsetting penalties which would set up a 3rd and 1, but we don’t know what that would have led to. Stafford fumbled twice on the final drive so he could’ve fumbled on the next play.

          The fact is in every game there will be multiple questionable calls. What happened with this call is that because of how it went down (flag thrown – penalty called – penalty reversed) and the fact that Pereira went on to say it was a penalty it got blown up far bigger than it was. If they had simply not called it there would have been some complaints but nowhere near what’s happening now, the same if Pereira had said it was probably not a penalty.

          It was horrendously handled, and as a whole the wrong judgement of the situation, but it wasn’t the only questionable call in the game. For example on the 9 yard run by Stafford Tyrone Crawford got blocked in the back if not tackled, if that’s called it’s 4th down and the Lions never go up 14-0. The point being that while it was a massive momentum changer, previous calls going another way could’ve had the same effect.

          I just wish there was a way to make fouls more consistent. Especially offensive holding, defensive holding and pass interference can be called on pretty much every other play, leaving to much to the interpretation of the referees. Maybe allowing coaches to challenge fouls (while holding them to 2 maybe max 3 challenges per game) could help. It wouldn’t affect the play by play nature of penalties, but it would stop potentially game changing ones like this one, as I’m pretty sure a review would have led to offsetting penalties.

          Talking about the rest of the game though, the Cowboys started very flat, and Romo took a long time to get into any sort of rhythm, honestly I don’t think they deserved to win after that first half. They got lucky because the Lions didn’t really do anything after halftime (though of course halftime adjustments did help) and Romo was actually clutch although he didn’t play well for a long time and seemed to push to hard early on (the sack he took before the Bailey 51 yard field goal was very reminiscent of the old Romo trying to do to much).

          In the end the Cowboys fan in me is happy they won, the football fan is sad it had to end so controversially and my rational brain says the Cowboys were the more talented team but played a worse game and should have lost, but the Lions didn’t have the killer instinct to make them pay for their sloppy play.

          • Dohkay

            As a Lions fan, I feel like we deserved to lose. Going up 14-0 it seemed Caldwell shifted the gameplan which was originally geared towards taking risks (throwing downfield, blitzing Romo) to not making mistakes (runs and screen passes, 4-man rushes) and it completely blew up in his face.

            14-0 and 20-7 seem like big leads but when the opposition has at least 3 or 4 drives remaining it doesn’t take much for those leads to turn into deficits. On the road, with a gameplan that was working, it makes no sense to seize up and play tight.

            He’s getting slammed for punting on 4th and 1 after the flag pick-up and I honestly have no issue with it at that point. It was the drives prior to it where the real mistakes were made.

          • Gèr

            Yeah it seemed the adjustments all went in the Cowboys’ favor. That’s always been a pet peeve of mine, teams play well get a lead and then they get conservative letting the opponent back in the game. Clearly when the Lions pressed Romo he had real trouble once they let up on him he showed up again and got back in the game.

            I must say I’m looking forward to the Lions next year though, of course Suh is an issue (both with regards to his personality and the size of his contract, I can’t help but think of Haynesworth) but I think the defense will still be good, especially if they keep Teryl Austin, and I’m pretty confident the offensive will be a lot better. There was just to much of a drop off from last year, and while they might not get back to that level there’s sure to be an improvement (though that might go with a few more picks from Stafford, though I think that’s worth it for the 2013 offense).

          • Dohkay

            I think Austin is gone. He turned a weakness into a major strength without any real additions (Ihedigbo was the only major FA and he dealt with injuries to Fairley, Tulloch, Bentley/Lawson). Hopefully we have the money to re-sign Suh. He’s not at the level of Watt but he’s pretty damn close and that makes him worth a lot.

            The offensive struggles are perplexing. Last year the offense lacked a legit number 2 WR so they added Tate who has been worth every penny not to mention drafted a TE 10th overall and yet somehow the offense regresses. Stafford is inaccurate at times so trying to play ball-control offense with his weakness along with a terrible running game is beyond stupid IMO.

            With the defense playing the way they are I think you have to let Stafford air it out more and take the good with the bad. He throws a lot of INTs but that’s a function of throwing the ball a lot as well. His INT rate the past 4 years was 2.6% which is right around league average and yet Caldwell/Lombardi treated him like they were dealing with a terrible QB.

            The dream scenario is Lombardi gets canned and Austin stays put. Also, Jim Caldwell rediscovers his testicles. Doubt either of those things happen, though.

          • Gèr

            I fear he might be as well, which is great for him but sad for the Lions. Though hopefully one of his assistants can carry on his work. As I’ve said before I’m just a tad worried about Suh, he reminds me to much of Haynesworth before he went to the Redskins, but that’s based far more on gut feeling than any real evidence.

            The offense is very weird indeed. Almost everything except for Tate seems worse than last year. Warford regressed, Raiola was horrendous after being great last year and Joique bell, one of the most underrated players last year, was below average. Obviously Bush and Johnson missing time had some effect but not enough to explain it, clearly the coaching isn’t as good as last year.

            I’m definitely with you on letting Stafford air it out. Last year he had a 84.1 passer rating with a PFF score of 18.6 this year he had a better rating with 85.7 but his PFF score went down to -7.4. So he was more efficient but without taking deep shots he wasn’t really dangerous anymore. Imagine last years offense that could score on every play with this defense, especially since any 3 and out or turnover could easily be covered by a great defense.

            Austin staying is obviously ideal but either way Lombardi has to go. To me he’s the typical product of a great situation, he was QB coach with Drew Brees as his QB and Sean Payton as his head coach, this year he lost that cover and clearly when he’s on his own he’s not good enough. The worst thing is that Caldwell was a pretty decent coach in Indy and he was OC when the Ravens won the Superbowl (and Flacco is a lot like Stafford), so I don’t get why he let this happen, at some point this year he should’ve interfered.

          • jack_sprat2

            Take some Pepto, dude. Suh is so not Fat Albert that it’s laughable.

          • jack_sprat2

            Suh may well be even more valuable than Watt. The latter makes no one else better. Suh makes everyone else better.

          • jack_sprat2

            “That’s always been a pet peeve of mine, teams play well get a lead and
            then they get conservative letting the opponent back in the game.”

            I call this Bo-Ball. I loved Schembechler to death, but this, along with his refusal to make any corrections until the 2nd half, or even crunch-time, drove me crazy.

          • jack_sprat2

            That WAS the game plan, for EVERY game. Basically, it was a declaration that any team with a defense that’s less all-world stout than that of the late-1980’s Steelers or ’84-’85 Bears “DESERVES” to lose.

          • Matthew Malek

            Dude I love you are trying to be a fair Cowboys fan. I am a Lions fan that thinks we got jobbed. But its our G.M.s fault for allowing us to enter the season with Cassius Vaugh as our 3rd best Corner. If Mathis didn’t get hurt then the game was over. Williams doesn’t get a TD and Lions go into the half with a 17-0 lead. Loins lack of quality depth prevented them from overcoming the Referees giving the game away. And say all you want about the Pettigrew PI call. Dez Bryant ran onto the field without a helmet while his team was NOT on offense. That would get called by EVERY ref against the Lions if Suh did it or even Calvin. Trust me. The whole nation knows who the better team was yesterday. True lions fans know we didn’t have the depth or the Oline to make a run for the Super Bowl. So I hope the cowboys well.

          • Dohkay

            I wouldn’t blame depth… blame injuries. Remember that Bill Bentley AND Nevin Lawson were slated to be the nickel corner. Both were lost for the season so Vaughn is a 3rd stringer. Not many teams can post quality players 3 spots deep.

          • castlebravo92

            Every team has injuries especially at this time of the year. Cowboys lost Sean Lee for the year on the first day of pre-season. They lost CB Morris Claiborne for the season in week 4. Hitchens got a high ankle sprain a week ago against Washington and still played hobbled. Rolando McClain left the Detroit game in the first half with a concussion.

          • Dohkay

            This wasn’t an excuse for the Lions losing to the Cowboys. I was responding to his comment suggesting Mayhew didn’t do his job since our 3rd string nickel corner was exposed. This has nothing to do with the Cowboys.

          • jack_sprat2

            Yeah, flanker concerns me a lot more. I’d settle for even ONE half-ass good one. I mean, WTF is this love affair with forty-eleven slot receivers, anyway?

          • Gèr

            I guess I’m not a typical Cowboys fan as I’m living in the Netherlands and saw my first NFL game when I was 15 back in 1999. I also consider myself a football fan first and a Cowboys fan second (I generally watch 10+ games a week).

            Like I said before I think that it should have been offsetting, considering that would have meant a 3rd down the Lions definitely got robbed, just not in the way most people claim. The Bryant thing was just odd, they didn’t want to escalate things I guess, but I do think he crossed a line. Though I would suggest you look at the 9 yard run by Stafford again, Tyrone Crawford pretty much got tackled and it didn’t get called. So not all calls went against the Lions.

            I’m more interested in your other points though. As I agree the CB situation really hurt you with Vaughn giving up the 76 yard catch to Williams and Mohammed Seisay (who only had 20 total plays all season) giving up 2 catches for 31 yards to Beasley on only 6 coverage plays. If they had some better depth I think it would probably have been over after the Lions went up 14-0.

            I’d love for the Cowboys to do well, but I’m not very optimistic against the Packers, I’m not sure the Cowboys match up worse against any team in the NFL. I give them a 20% chance at best, while I’d say it would be at least 40% against the Seahawks.

            With regards to the roster I just hope that Warford gets back to his 2013 form and Waddle gets healthy for 2014. I think that plus a new center (apart from all his other issues Raiola had a -17.2 rating, the only red of all the opening day starters) would create a pretty decent O-line, add in a decent slot corner and you’ve got a very dangerous team.

            I feel the Lions have a very good core (though I’m worried on Suh, even if he stays the whole biggest contract ever means I can’t help but think of Haynesworth) and I’ve always had a soft spot for them (admittedly I do for one team in every division but still) so it would be great if they filled the gaps and made a real run the next few years.

          • jack_sprat2

            I’ve heard that claim made repeatedly, but ONLY by Cowboys fans. In not a single frame are Brandon’s hands on the face mask. Both hands extend PAST the helmet. The most of which one might accuse Pettigrew is going in for the kiss.

      • tee

        It’s evident all of the cowboy fans think it was a great call.

    • Ben Connor

      There was holding and grabbing by both players on the non-call. I think if no flag was thrown all would be ok. The throwing it then picking it up with no immediate explanation was the problem.

      • jack_sprat2

        C’mon, the DH was all the way down the field. Any OH was self-preservation.

    • tee

      Ummm how about 20 bad calls lol.

  • Mike

    Game Ball: Pete Morelli!

  • Chris
    • Jason Williams

      “Faceguarding is allowed as long as you don’t physically restrict the receiver from making a play on the ball. ”

      :)

      What part of this picture is Hitchens not restricting Pettigrew from making a play?

      • Chris

        The part where Hitchens is straight vertical with his arms up and Pettigrew is attempting to catch a ball that’s about to hit Hitchens in the back.

        As mutzki said, Pettigrew never made an attempt to come back to the ball. He tried to catch this falling backwards with Hitchens posted up right between him and the ball.

        If he came back through Hitchens and makes a lot of contact, Hitchens gets called for faceguarding/not making a play on the ball. But here he got away with it because Pettigrew didn’t come back and just fell over.

        • Jason Williams

          hard to disagree with Pettigrew being an idiot… :)

          still think it was PI 😉

    • Dohkay
      • Chris

        I see incidental contact on the shoulder pad while the refs missed a trio of other penalties (****holding on Hitchens****, facemask on Pettigrew, no helmet on Dez).

        Still has no bearing on the PI call.

      • Chris

        http://i.imgur.com/xIhlmIa.png

        Facemask on Pettigrew

        • Dohkay

          Look if you want to call incidental contact on Hitchens then I think you have to call that incidental contact on Pettigrew. I’m not saying it’s cut and dry DPI, however, in recent years, ANY contact coupled with no awareness for the ball equals DPI. One ref saw it that way. Apparently another saw it differently.

          • Chris

            It’s a judgment call I agree. And the league is so soft now in terms of what they allow by the secondary. IMO that wasn’t pass interference. But the main issue is how they Bengal’d the management of the whole thing.

          • Dohkay

            +1 for Benal’d

        • Dohkay

          For what it’s worth (which is nothing cause Blandino is a tool):

          “I felt that was minimal contact,” Blandino said of Pettigrew’s contact with Hitchens’s facemask.

  • Life Goes On

    Let’s not forget the phantom pick play call on Williams of the Cowboys that reversed the Beasely first down. Next play, Williams 76yd TD. Inconsistent running into the kicker calls. Very ticky-tack on the one yd line that extended the Lion’s drive. Rampant holding on both sides. Bad officiating all around. However, the Lions lost because they did not go for the kill and close out the game. This has been an issue for a long time. One play should not (and did not) decide the entire game.

    • Dohkay

      Agreed. The Lions lost because Jim Caldwell went full-turtle after getting a 14 point lead rather than going for the kill shot. Clinging to leads is not how teams advance in the playoffs.

      • Jeff

        Finally! Someone calls out Caldwell for what he really is.

        • tee

          Your both full of it..

        • tee

          The refs stole that game from Detroit. There were very few bad calls that went against the cowboys compared to the phantom calls that went against the Lions. Wonder how much Jerry paid the refs?

      • jack_sprat2

        What bothers me is how consistently such cowardly play-calling has characterized Lions teams post-Fontes. The thought of losing Austin terrifies me, given how the very sight of prevent defenses causes me to wretch uncontrollably.

  • Football

    Thanks refs, for ruining the Lions season. Jerry Jones must’ve payed them a good sum.

  • Mike Henry

    I say off-setting flags… I posted the video link of the best angle to support this view. Hard to turn your head when this happens. AND YES… 59 did hold prior to this video. And NO I don’t believe the Lions would have gotten a TD even with a replay of the down or a 1st down.

    https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/332953AA151163695768922963968_303efb7c1d8.1.5.11586357592793758305.mp4?versionId=BJ.aaHGqNZHhrqcMHdrWR6WN_S5TgMxG

  • Mike Henry

    Lions fans were looking for more than call for PI. They were looking a miricale. They got whooped from the second drive of the game and forward. That flag gave them hope and an excuse but they got beat by team that took it to them. EXCUSES ARE FOR LOOSERS.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      Yeah, Romo getting 3 resets of downs in the redzone complete with holding to score a game winning TD doesn’t look suspicious at all. I also love how he waited until they were down 14-0 to start handing it off. Talk about a loser.

    • Dohkay

      A team many experts believed was going to wipe the floor with Detroit won by 4 points and you say Dallas “took it to them”. Right…

      • Ben Connor

        Dallas was favored by 6.5 points. Hardly expecting Dallas to wipe the floor with them. I had it at 24-21 Dallas.

        • Dohkay

          Yes and many experts were pegging this game as a blowout. Glad to see you didn’t see it that way but that doesn’t change the fact that nationally it was perceived to be a game where the Lions had no chance.

          • Ben Connor

            Fair enough

  • Ben Connor

    Who won the Suh Vs Martin battle?

    • Bill from Dallas

      OMG, this matchup was awesome. An absolute war. Crazy good play by both of them all game long. In rewatching the game, it appeared to my (admittedly biased) eye, that Martin got the better of this matchup. There were about 15 plays where they went one on one and one got the better of the other. I thought it was about 10 – 5 in favor of Zack (and I tried to be conservative). There were numerous other plays which were a draw or where there was a double team that neutralized Suh and many plays where Suh was on the other side of the line. The signature play of this matchup was the goal line play where Murray was stopped for no gain. Troy Aikman thought that Suh made the play down on the goal line, but in rewatching that play a few times, I think it was one of the best blocks of the game by Zack. He stood Suh up, lifted him off of his feet, and turned him to seal off the hole. It was incredible. Actually, Mosely made the play. He crashed the A gap and got under Leary after Fredrick went out to get the linebacker. Mosely closed the hole up and forced Murray into the Martin/Suh deathmatch over control of that gap. Suh got a hand on Murray but Martin pancaked him, ending the play on top of Suh. Mosely (or perhaps it was a linebacker who came up late) made the tackle. The biggest problem by the O line in general was the lack of blitz recognition and inability to hand off D linemen to pick up blitzing linebackers. In fact, that was the area that I thought Suh had the biggest impact. It appeared that Zack and the O line in general were so concerned about Suh that they gave him attention which opened a hole for a blitzing linebacker or stunting lineman and were then too late to recognize it. But all-in-all a great effort by the O line. This was an amazing game by two of the best units in football. Excellent blitz schemes by the Detroit coaching staff, good (fairly good at least) adjustments by Dallas. Every play felt like a fight to the death. The all-22 is going to be like porn to the PFF linemen specialtists. Interested to hear some feed back.

      • Dohkay

        Great effort by the O line? This was one of the OL’s worst games… Murray was held in check and Romo was beaten up and sacked 6 times (Detroit averaged under 2.5 sacks per game this season for reference). PFF also seems to think Suh won the matchup with Martin as he graded positively while Martin had his second worst game as a pro. If not for the efforts of your Tackles – and maybe some generous non-holding calls 😉 – Dallas doesn’t win that game.

        • Bill from Dallas

          I do think it was a great effort by the O line. Certainly not the most productive but you have to consider the competition. Detroit has the best D line in the league. While Dallas only had 73 rush yards, Detroit only gave up more than 80 rush yards 3 times this year. Only two teams all year (NE and GB) scored more than the 24 points that Dallas scored on Sunday. That is pretty good company. The 6 sacks were a little ugly, but, most came on blown blitz pick ups. Detroit’s coaching staff was fantastic. They came up with some great blitz schemes. With respect to the Martin-Suh matchup, once again considering the competition, I thought Martin played one his better games. Suh has been first team All-Pro 4 times and second team once in the 5 years in the league. One of the best DTs of the decade and Martin handled him more times than not. In fact, much of Suh’s production came against the left side of the line. Of his two sacks, the second came against the left side and the first was Romo’s fault. Martin had Suh sealed off to the right (although not without some difficulty . . . ok, he was probably on life support, but he was between Suh and Romo). As the center of the pocket collapsed, Romo, inexplicably, bailed out the right, right into Suh’s arms. The left side was completely open as the DE came underneath Tyron Smith, who was pushing him underneath Romo and would have gone harmlessly by had Romo slid to the left. Bad play by Romo. (As an aside, having lived the last few years in Indy, Luck is an absolute magician in the pocket. Makes Romo look like a spaz.) Of his 3 tackles, one tackle attributed to Suh was actually made by Mosely as I described above. I don’t remember his other two tackles. There was no doubt that Suh was productive but most of the time his production came against someone else. I actually thought that Martin had more trouble with Fluellen than he did with Suh. Fluellen’s length was a problem for Martin, similar to the first Eagles game when he struggled with Fletcher Cox. Martin is going to be a monster though. Going toe to toe with one of the best DTs in the league as rookie. Pretty impressive stuff. I suspect that he’ll have higher grades in the game against Green Bay but I doubt that he will play better.

          • Tim Edell

            This was definitely not a good performance from the Cowboys OL

          • Dohkay

            They revised Suh’s grade upwards significantly to 3.9 (one of his best games of the year) and as a whole the defensive line had one of it’s best games of the year based on PFF grading. This despite going against the concensus best offensive line in the NFL. I’d say it was a very bad game for Dallas’ offensive line and Martin as well.

            Detroit was coming off arguably it’s worst performance of the year in Green Bay where they allowed Lacy to top 100 yards and failed to get much pressure on a hobbled Rodgers. That they completely flipped their performance against Dallas was a shock to many and a big reason why the line hovered between 6.5 and 7.5 points in favor of Dallas. Most pundits/experts thought the Dallas OL wouldn’t have any trouble keeping Romo clean and allowing Murray to continue to run the ball without issues. Clearly that didn’t happen on Sunday.

        • Ben Connor

          Dohkay, go to the Cowboys website and find the link where they break down all 6 sacks. Parnell, a backup tackle, messed up once or twice. On two others Romo held onto the ball too long and there was at least one other coverage sack. The Dallas O-line took over by the 4th quarter and Suh was gasping for air by the end.

          • Dohkay

            They “took over” because of holds like the one the NFL just admitted they missed:

            http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/06/nfl-admits-refs-missed-cowboys-holding-suh-on-crucial-play/

            Watch that play and watch the final TD. There was rampant holding that went uncalled. The Dallas OL was outplayed. You can blame it on a backup tackle but don’t forget you also faced a backup DT as Fairley was out.

          • Ben Connor

            Dohkay, Dallas also was missing a starting OL Doug Free

          • Dohkay

            I’ll grant you that but his replacement played at almost the same level. Pro-rate his game out to 16 games and he’s right around +8 in PFF’s grading (and that’s against arguably the best defensive line).

          • jack_sprat2

            That was the very first time that I’ve ever seen Suh gasping for air. I didn’t think there were any two guys in the league who were man enough to outlast him.

      • Ben Connor

        Awesome insight…thanks Bill!

  • http://www.dcbluestar.com/ DCBlueStar

    PFF, Romo said after the game he threw balls purposely with a nose dive when he thought the play or the 1st down wasn’t there as to avoid a possible INT by DET. How would his grade be if you counted those as “thrown away?”

  • tee

    Disappointed there was nothing said about the refs in the Detroit game. They stole the game from them. Many people think Jerry Jones paid off the refs, and I’m one of the them.

  • Really?

    Everyone talks about Suh’s dominate performance. I came to your site to see what your rating would be. Every radio, tv, and columnist talked about it in awe. You don’t mention it. Odd. Also, the Lions were robbed. The Cowboys did not deserve to win this game as DPI and the phantom call and the defensive holding AND the hold on Suh were all so obvious and blatant. Worst officiating in an NFL playoff game ever. That call should be review able but only during the playoffs.

  • tee

    Lets not mention the refs got payed off by Jerry Jones…