FIRST DOWN: THE TWO-POINT CONVERSION PENALTY
The frustration on head coach Dan Campbell's face and in his voice was evident speaking to reporters after the game. Tackle Dan Skipper was so mad he didn't want to talk to reporters other than to confirm he did not report as an eligible receiver on the potentially game-winning two-point conversion play that was called back by a penalty.
After wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown scored on an 11-yard touchdown with 23 seconds left Campbell opted to go for two points and the lead. When quarterback Jared Goff hit left tackle Taylor Decker on a pass in the back of the end zone the Lions thought they'd taken a 21-20 lead with just 27 seconds left, but the officials called illegal touching by the Lions, saying Decker never reported as an eligible receiver.
Decker said after the game he reported as eligible, and video shows him going up to Referee Brad Allen before the play. Skipper said he did not report as eligible.
"Pretty confused," Goff said after the game. "What I do know, and I don't know if I'll get fined for this, I do know Decker reported and I do know Dan Skipper did not. And I do know they said Dan Skipper did. So, it's unfortunate."
Detroit still had two more attempts at the two points but weren't able to convert with two incomplete passes.
Campbell's frustration after the game stemmed from the fact that he said he goes over potential trick plays with the officials before the game.
"I explain everything pregame to a T," Campbell said. "I did that."
Allen said this after the game, via PFWA pool reporter Calvin Watkins' postgame interview with him:
"So, we had a situation where if you were going to have an ineligible number occupy an eligible position, you have to report that to the referee. On this particular play, number 70, who had reported during the game a couple of times, reported to me as eligible. Then he lined up at the tackle position.
"So, actually, he didn't have to report at all. Number 68, who ended up going downfield and touching the pass, did not report. Therefore, he is an ineligible touching a pass that goes beyond the line, which makes it a foul. So, the issue is, number 70 did report, number 68 did not."
SECOND DOWN: HUTCHINSON STEPS UP
It's probably been a little bit frustrating for defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson that all the pressure he's put on quarterbacks this year hasn't resulted in a high sack total.
Heading into Saturday night's game, Pro Football Focus graded Hutchinson ninth among edge defenders. He was third in total pressures (87) behind Micah Parsons (97) and Nick Bosa (88). Only Bosa has more quarterback hits (19) than Hutchinson's 18. Hutchinson's 63 hurries trail only Parsons' 65. Yet Hutchinson came in with just 6.5 sacks on the season while those other players have double digit sacks.
Hutchinson got to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott three times on Saturday to push his season total to 9.5 sacks, tying his total from his rookie season last year. It was his fourth career multi-sack game, tied with Ezekiel Ansah for the most multi-sack games of any Lions player through their first two seasons.
"I just felt like the timing was right today," Hutchinson said. "You just wish you could come out with a W at the end."
THIRD DOWN: TWO-MINUTE DRIVE
Detroit's offense didn't have its best game Saturday and left too many opportunities on the field, but they stepped up late in a difficult situation and gave the team a chance to win.
After the defense did a nice job of forcing a Dallas field goal with one minute and 45 seconds left in the game to go up 20-13, Detroit would have 1 minute and 41 seconds after the kickoff starting at their own 25-yard line to go 75 yards with no timeouts.
Goff hit tight end Sam LaPorta for 10 yards to kick off the drive and LaPorta again for 25 more to the Dallas 40-yard line on the next play.
After a spike to stop the clock, Goff connected with St. Brown for 14. Goff spiked the ball with 48 seconds left and the ball at the Dallas 26-yard line.
After an incomplete pass on 2nd & 10, Goff hit LaPorta one more time for 15 yards down to the Dallas 11-yard line. One more spike with 28 seconds left and the next play was the Goff to St. Brown 11-yard touchdown.
Every pass on the drive was completed to either LaPorta or St. Brown, who have been Goff's go-to targets all season.
"Guys are studs, man," Goff said of LaPorta and St. Brown. "They played well I thought all night. They are both studs and I love throwing to them."'
St. Brown finished with six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. LaPorta had seven catches for 84 yards.
FOURTH DOWN: LAMB'S BIG GAME
As well as Detroit's defense played for most of the night Saturday, one stat line jumps off the box score and that's the 13 receptions by Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb for 227 yards and a touchdown. That includes a 92-yard touchdown.
Last week it was Minnesota's Justin Jefferson hitting the Lions for 141 yards and a touchdown. The Lions were able to hang on and beat the Vikings to clinch the NFC North in Minnesota last week but that's back-to-back big performances by opposing receivers.
Jefferson and Lamb are two of the best in the business, but there are star receivers on a lot of the NFC teams still in the hunt for the playoffs the Lions could see in the postseason.
Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is going to have to come up with a plan to slow down some of the production we've seen from opposing passing games and particularly No. 1 receivers the last couple weeks.