Calvin Johnson

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

Before Sunday’s intriguing matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, teams with a minus-four turnover margin in a single game had a 43-663 record since the 1970 merger. Now bare with me here because I am no mathematician, but if I were not mistaken, that would give the Cowboys about a 94% chance of winning, if in fact the Lions were to commit four turnovers against them and the Cowboys were to take care of the football for an entire game.

Those are pretty good odds of winning, but the likelihood of a banged up Cowboys defense causing a talented Lions offense to turn the ball over four times did not seem too high.

Sunday’s game went against all odds, though, and despite turning the ball over four times, the Lions rallied late to defeat the Cowboys 31-30 in dramatic fashion. 

With just 29 seconds left in the game and the clock ticking after Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson had hauled in a Matthew Stafford pass down to the one-yard line, Stafford hurried his teammates up to the line and fooled everyone by hurdling over his offensive line to score the sneaky game-winning touchdown. 

This heartbreaking loss was a similar result to the one the Cowboys suffered Week 5 to the Denver Broncos, in a sense that, well, they blew it.

Some may argue that the offense for the Cowboys played not to lose near the end of the game, trying to run out the clock by handing the ball off to running back Joseph Randle. But the defense collapsed, and “Megatron” had a mega game and was too much to handle for Brandon Carr and the rest of the Cowboys. 

Johnson tore up the Cowboys, beating any type of coverage that was brought his way and was just seven yards shy of breaking Flipper Anderson’s NFL receiving record with 329 yards. He also was able to find the end zone once. And for all the fantasy players out there, Johnson could have had even more points for you, but he was stopped inside the 5-yard line four times.

On the other side, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, whom everyone was comparing Johnson to heading into the game, scored two touchdowns on 72 yards receiving. Despite the solid stat line, Bryant still managed to damage his image for most. 

Bryant was caught on camera throwing multiple fits, yelling at coaches and teammates. Some are saying it is because he was not getting the ball enough and that he is still an immature punk. Bryant said after the game, though, it was just passion.

No matter what the reasoning behind Bryant’s outbursts was, it is unacceptable as a professional athlete in the NFL. Bryant needs to harness his emotions better and gain more control of himself in situations similar to those which happened Sunday. 

Bryant is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL, and he has a long career ahead of him. Having said that, this should be addressed within the Cowboys locker room and have people help him along the way if he wants to achieve a good image. I have no doubt this won’t be a problem going forward, and Bryant will have continued success and even has a chance to become one of the all-time greats when it is all said and done. 

On a positive note, rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams from Baylor University continues to improve every single week. Williams scored a touchdown for the fourth straight game against the Lions, setting a franchise record for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception. 

Oh, and how about Sean Lee? The linebacker seems to be everywhere for the Cowboys’ defense, intercepting two of Stafford’s passes Sunday and racking up a team-high 10 tackles. That extension the Cowboys gave him is being well earned.

With the loss, the Cowboys are back to a familiar .500 record, sitting at 4-4. But I believe this is what the Cowboys are: mediocre. 

The teams they have beaten are the: Rams, Giants, Redskins and Eagles, who currently all have losing records. Even though they “could” have easily won against the Lions and in multiple games earlier in the season, the bottom line is they did not.

Aside from all the drama the Cowboys will go through Sunday and all of the criticism the team will face this week, they are still in first place in the NFC East. 

The Cowboys return home in Week 9 and will take on the Minnesota Vikings from AT&T Stadium.

 

Rising:

Brandon Jacobs:

Old reliable, Brandon Jacobs, seems to have re-emerged as a serviceable fantasy running back after not even having a contract a few weeks ago. This week he totaled over 100 yards rushing, with two touchdowns, in place of the oft-injured and perpetually disappointing David Wilson. I don’t expect Wilson to get much better this year, which makes Jacobs a solid flex play for the foreseeable future.

Joseph Fauria:

Three receptions, three touchdowns — don’t expect Joseph Fauria to repeat this stat line next week, or possibly ever again. That being said, the Lions don’t like to run the ball in the red zone, and Matthew Stafford only had eyes for Fauria this week. This six-foot-seven-inch tight end won’t be a stud, but he is worth owning on your team for bye-week sub-ins or if you mistakenly drafted his Lions’ counterpart, Brandon Pettigrew.

Maurice Jones-Drew:

Maurice Jones-Drew seems to have lost a step in the last year after claiming the rushing title in 2011. But he is still Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars’ offense is rapidly improving — note Justin Blackmon’s 326 yards receiving in the last two weeks — and they even put up a fight against the Broncos this week. As Jacksonville improves, so will Jones-Drew, so buy low on him while you still can.

 

Falling:

Calvin Johnson:

Don’t worry if you didn’t take my advice and drafted Calvin Johnson in the first round of your draft — he is still a top 10 receiver. But you didn’t draft Calvin Johnson to be a top 10 receiver, you drafted him to be the top receiver. It looks to be a down year for Johnson as he battles nagging injuries and catches a disproportionately low number of balls thrown his way — only 38 percent this week. Don’t trade him, but don’t count on him being the foundation of your team.

Marques Colston:

Speaking of traditionally strong receivers who are having down years, meet Marques Colston. Colston is typically a lock for 1,000 yards and around seven to 10 touchdowns. This year, he is on pace to be just shy of 1,000 yards and only three touchdowns. Jimmy Graham has completely taken over the passing game in New Orleans, leaving Colston to be an average WR2/flex option, but not much else.

Anquan Boldin:

Anquan Boldin had one of the best games of his career in Week 1 — totaling 208 yards and a touchdown. It seems as though defenses took notice, since he has only gained 213 yards and another touchdown in Weeks 2 through 6, combined. Teams are tasking their best cornerbacks with covering Boldin, and Boldin simply does not have the speed to beat them. Expect around 50 yards per week from Boldin, which makes him a weak starter in most formats.

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) is pushed out of bounds by Lions free safety Louis Delmas during the Cowboy’s loss to the Lions. The Cowboys had a 24-point lead at the beginning of the second half.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ARLINGTON — Tony Romo put the Dallas Cowboys ahead by 24 points with his third touchdown pass right after halftime. That lead wasn’t enough after he followed that with
three interceptions.

Two of the picks were returned for touchdowns, and the third set up Detroit’s game-winning score with 1:39 left as the Cowboys blew their largest lead ever to lose 34-30 to the undefeated Lions on Sunday.

“It hurts,” Romo said, not even talking about the still-sore ribs that forced to him take another pregame injection. “We were obviously in a position to win this game. ... It doesn’t feel good right now.”

Especially knowing the Cowboys (2-2) are going into their bye week and won’t play again for two weeks.

“It’s devastating,” linebacker Sean Lee said.

The Cowboys had won two in a row since a season-opening loss at the New York Jets when Romo had an interception and a fumble at the 3 as Dallas blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead for the first time in franchise history.

A week after that, Romo threw for 201 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime of a win at San Francisco despite suffering a fractured rib and punctured lung early in the game. They Cowboys were coming off a win over NFC East rival Washington six days earlier.

“I view the success we have, I view what he does well and I put the mistakes right in with what he does well and don’t in any way get discouraged about our future with Tony,” owner Jerry Jones said. “There’s no issue about faith in Romo, any place in this organization, period. ... If you’re going to try to make plays, then you’ve got a chance to have some bad plays. But however we go, we’ll go with Tony. As Tony goes, we’ll go.”

The Cowboys led 27-3 after Romo hit Jason Witten for a 1-yard touchdown only 2½ minutes into the second half.

Then came the two interceptions in a span of three throws. Bobby Carpenter, the former first-round pick by the Cowboys and one of Romo’s good friends, returned the first one 35 yards for a touchdown and Chris Houston took another one back 56 yards for a 27-17 score.

Jason Hanson kicked a 51-yard field goal to get Detroit within 30-27 soon after Cowboys coach Jason Garrett declined a penalty that would’ve pushed the Lions back 10 yards, but given them an extra down.

On the first snap after Hanson’s second field goal in his 299th career game, Romo threw while trying to avoid pressure and came up short to Witten. Stephen Tulloch intercepted, setting up the Lions at the 40.

“I just didn’t get enough on the throw. ... I thought it was going to be a big play for us, honestly,” Romo said. “It’s disappointing because I thought he was coming open past all the linebackers and there’s no safety help to that side. I wish I could have that throw back and just throw it further.”

Instead, Dallas-born Matthew Stafford led the Lions on a seven-play drive that ended with his second touchdown to Calvin Johnson, a 2-yarder with 1:39 left.

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.

While Stafford has the Lions off to their first 4-0 start since 1980, and they have won an NFL-best eight in a row, Romo and the Cowboys have another bitter loss.

“Nobody’s lost faith in Romo,” said safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the third quarter.

“We believe in him. He’s our guy and we’ll fight through it,” Witten said. “We just need to eliminate this roller coaster of a ride, and that’s the next step for us.”

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.

Stafford had dozens of relatives and friends in the crowd, including his high school coach.

His first pass to Johnson was intercepted, leading to Dallas’ first touchdown and the defense was constantly in his face. He had a tough first half, but finished 21 of 43 for 240 yards and did a better job of finding Johnson after halftime. The game-winner came against tight coverage on a play when the Cowboys had 12 defenders on the field.

Johnson caught eight passes for 96 yards, and tied Cris Carter’s NFL record of catching two TDs in four straight games.
Romo was 34 of 47 for 331 yards, with three touchdowns. Dez Bryant caught two TDs before Johnson even had a single grab, and Laurent Robinson had seven catches for 116 yards.

Romo was on a roll of completing 13 of 14 passes, the only incompletion a clock-stopping spike, when Carpenter made a leaping interception and a weaving 35-yard return.

“I know he’s going to get beaten up by (the media) this week,” Carpenter said of Romo. “He’s the same quarterback he was two weeks ago when he was the hero. He’s a tremendous player and a top-five quarterback, in my opinion.”