Lions Den: Detroit Falls to Dallas at AT&T Stadium

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The Detroit Lions were unable to clinch a playoff spot in Week 16, falling to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night at AT&T Stadium by a final score of 42-21.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford had a hard time getting anything going through the air, throwing for 260 yards and an interception. Stafford will need to bounce back next week, as the NFC North division will be on the line at Ford Field.

In a surprise performance, Lions running back Zach Zenner rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns, but 64 of those yards came in the first half. The second half was a different story, as the Cowboys stuffed the Lions run game, forcing Stafford into long passing situations. Theo Riddick is questionable for next week’s division showdown with the Green Bay Packers, but if he can’t go, Zenner would be in line for more carries.

Besides tight end Eric Ebron, Detroit receivers had a hard time finding space against the Cowboys’ secondary. Ebron led the Lions with 93 yards on eight catches. Detroit usually relies on Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin and Marvin Jones to carry the load in the receiving game, but the trio only caught 12 balls for 107 yards.

Dallas’ offense had no problem finding openings in the Lions’ defense, as rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Prescott was efficient throwing the ball, completing 75 percent of his passes, and gave Detroit trouble all night long.

Like Prescott, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had a huge day. Elliott finished the game with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Elliott’s day was highlighted by a 55-yard touchdown run with 2:49 to go in the first quarter, giving the Cowboys a 14-7 lead.

Cowboys receivers had a field day against the banged up Lions secondary. Star cornerback Darius Slay was out for the game, and Dez Bryant was the main beneficiary of his absence. Bryant finished the game with 70 yards, two receiving touchdowns and a passing touchdown. Brice Butler and Jason Witten also added receiving touchdowns for Dallas. Slay is questionable heading into next week’s showdown with the Packers, but he is leaning more towards doubtful status than probable status.

Detroit will take on the Green Bay Packers next Sunday at Ford Field with the NFC North division on the line. The game is set to start at 8:30 p.m. on NBC. If Detroit were to win this game, it would secure them a home playoff game, which would be the team’s first since 1993. If Detroit were to lose this game, they wouldn’t necessarily miss the playoffs, but they would need the New York Giants to beat the Washington Redskins. In that scenario, Detroit would secure a wildcard berth, and play on the road to start the playoffs.