ARLINGTON – Detroit's defense did something Saturday night none of the other seven teams that played the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium this season were able to do.
The Cowboys had scored 30 points in every game at home this season and were averaging 39.9 points per game. They were 7-0 in those contests.
But things certainly didn't come easy for Dallas' offense Saturday night as they eked out a close 20-19 win over the Lions in somewhat controversial fashion.
The defense gave up some explosive plays, but overall that unit came up big most of the night and put the team in a position to win. Detroit's defense forced two takeaways and allowed just two touchdowns.
"We had a lot of opportunities earlier in the game and we didn't play clean enough offensively," left tackle Taylor Decker said. "Hats off to our defense. They played a hell of a game so definitely want to give those guys credit."
Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks and five quarterback hits. Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu had an interception for a second straight game. Cornerback Kindle Vildor forced a fumble that went through the end zone and resulted in a Lions touchback. Detroit's defense had eight tackles for loss in the contest and held Dallas to just 61 rushing yards on 21 attempts (2.9 avg.).
"I thought we played well overall on defense just a couple of explosives that just got away from us a little bit," Hutchinson said of the defensive performance. "But overall, I thought we played well."
The only real hiccup defensively were the 227 yards receiving allowed to CeeDee Lamb, which included a 92-yard touchdown where linebacker Derrick Barnes missed a sack and Vildor fell down in coverage.
"There's a lot of guys that stepped up," said linebacker Alex Anzalone, who finished with eight tackles and a tackle for loss. "There's definitely a lot to build off of. Stuff to get excited about and keep getting better moving forward."
MELIFONWU CONTINUES TO PLAY WELL
Over the last three weeks Melifonwu has recorded 17 tackles, 3.0 sacks, two interceptions and five passes defended. He has become a consistent difference maker for the Lions' defense.
The only other Lion to produce two sacks and two interceptions in any two-game span was linebacker Jimmy Williams in 1989. Melifonwu's just the third defensive back in franchise history, and the first since Ron Rice in 1998, to produce three sacks and two interceptions in a single season.
- Rookie Sam LaPorta has established the new franchise record for receiving yards in a season by a Lions tight end, passing the previous record of 777 set by Brandon Pettigrew in 2011. LaPorta has 81 receptions for 860 yards and nine touchdowns on the year. He's tied with Keith Jackson (81 in 1988) for the most receptions a rookie tight end has recorded in a season in NFL history.
- For the first time in franchise history, Detroit has rushed for 25 touchdowns and passed for 25 touchdowns in a single season.
- Jalen Reeves-Maybin's 31-yard completion to Khalil Dorsey on a 4th and 2 fake punt made him the first defensive player in team history to complete a pass.