Lions-Cowboys Final Thoughts: Glover Quin studies, reads and reacts on a game-influencing play that shows he's in top form; push back from the Lions' offensive line and a problem for the defense and Random Thoughts on the Cowboys' view of Kenny Golladay, protection for Matthew Stafford, sticking with my pick and more:
Glover Quin: He looked like a wise 10-year veteran (which he is) with young legs on a play that let the Lions maintain a cushion on the way to last week's win over the Patriots.
It was an important play for the moment and bodes well in the long run that Quin can still operate at a high level at free safety with his lofty football IQ and physical skills.
Reviewing the play: Quin diagnosed a run to his left on a critical third and one that ended up in lost yardage. It forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal instead of driving to a possible touchdown. Quin shot through a gap to his left to be the first Lions defender to hit Patriots running back Sony Michel behind the line of scrimmage. Teammates rallied to the ball, giving Michel no room to escape.
It was a momentum stopper that let the Lions hold a 13-3 lead at halftime after the field goal instead of a 13-7 lead had the Patriots gained a first down and ultimately scored a touchdown.
"Just reading my keys, that's all," Quin said this week. "It was a big play. Just read the keys. Your keys will take you where you need to go. I got a good read on it and had to get to it before he (Michel) got a yard."
O-line, pushing back: It wasn't just the win over the Patriots that felt good for the offensive linemen. How they contributed to it was special.
Head coach Matt Patricia has talked about control and getting tougher, and the offensive line won the battle up front, pushing the Patriots' defenders off the line of scrimmage to clear the way for the running backs and protect Matthew Stafford.
"Obviously, it's one of the best games you can have on a game day," said guard T. J. Lang. "Just knowing you have success running the ball, you're protecting the quarterback well. The offense and the skilled guys are getting some good stats, some good numbers.
"We'd like to put it in the end zone more. It's all the hard work starting to pay off. That's the type of game we've been talking about playing since we got here in April."
Zeke, stretching Lions' D: The Lions' defense has been vulnerable to the stretch play, and nobody is more dangerous running it than Zeke Elliott. The Lions gave up a 62-yard TD run to the Jets' Isaiah Crowell in the first game and a 66-yard TD run to the 49ers' Matt Breida the next week.
Elliott gashed the Lions for a 55-yard TD run in Week 16 of the 2016 season. Holding him in check is vital.
"That play is such a hard play to defend, and obviously, we've had some struggles with it here this year," Patricia said. "It's one of those plays where if just somebody gets a little bit out of a space, there's a big-play opportunity there with the way they block it and run it."
On less sack time for Matthew Stafford: He looks fresh and healthy after three games, and he should. He's been sacked only three times. Last year he was sacked at least three times in four of the first six games.
On what winning means: In some cases, winning one game feels like a winning streak. For the Lions, last week's win over the Patriots was one of them. So much angst and doubt has been unloaded. For a week, anyway.
On Kenny Golladay getting attention: The Cowboys' website posted a scouting report on Kenny Golladay that showed the second-year receiver's rising role in the offense. He has 19 catches and two TDs in the first three games.
Among the comments: "It's not hard to find Kenny Golladay on tape when you study the Lions' offense. He is the one guy that Matthew Stafford is throwing to, down after down. His length and catch radius make him an obvious target, no matter the situation."
Not so special teams: The Lions can't keep giving away field position on special teams. It's costing them yards and points on a unit that has been a strength.
Sticking with my pick: It all starts up front, and the elevation of the offensive line lets Stafford get the ball to all the playmakers. The Cowboys have the toughest defense the Lions have faced thus far, but teams are winning these days on offense. And the Lions have it.
Pick: Lions 24 Cowboys 16.