NFL: Maher field goal at end puts Cowboys over Stafford, Lions
By Schuyler Dixon
ARLINGTON — Brett Maher kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Dallas Cowboys to a 26-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Maher’s fourth field goal was set up by Dak Prescott’s 34-yard completion to running back Ezekiel Elliott on a deep throw after Matthew Stafford had put the Lions in front with a 38-yard touchdown to Golden Tate, their second TD connection of the day.
Elliott had a career-high 240 all-purpose yards, with 152 yards rushing and 88 receiving.
The best offensive day of the season for a previously struggling Dallas offense spoiled Stafford’s homecoming again, with his third straight loss at the home of the Cowboys (2-2). The former Dallas-area high school star threw for 307 yards.
Trailing 20-10, Stafford led the Lions (1-3) 75 yards to rookie Kerryon Johnson’s first career touchdown, an 8-yard run that started a back-and-fourth final quarter.
After the Cowboys settled for Maher’s third field goal on an 85-yard drive, Stafford found Tate for 35 yards into Dallas territory before Tate easily beat zone coverage down the sideline and strutted toward the end zone, just as he had on a 45-yard score in the first quarter.
But Prescott had an answer while throwing for at least 200 yards for the first time this season. The Dallas quarterback saved the final drive by picking up a fumble when he was hit on the arm and scrambling before throwing the ball out of bounds.
Prescott then converted a third down on the next play and two plays later threw deep to Elliott with linebacker Jarrad Davis trailing the 2016 NFL rushing leader by a couple of steps. The Cowboys then killed the clock to set up Maher, the kicker they chose over trusty Dan Bailey at the end of the preseason in a cost-cutting move.
Elliott had a season-high 25 carries for his 152 yards, and Prescott was 17 of 27 for 255 yards with two touchdowns, including tight end Geoff Swaim’s first career score.
Stafford was 24 of 30 with the two scores to Tate, who had eight catches for 132 yards.
ROUGHING THE PASSER
The touchdown screen to Elliott was set up by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Romeo Okwara. The question was whether the whistle had blown when he hit Prescott, who was trying to escape pressure when he stumbled out of an attempted tackle and went to a knee. Prescott popped up but had stopped moving, anticipating that he was down, when Okwara knocked him to the ground. Officials discussed the play before announcing two defensive penalties. The other was an illegal contact call against Darius Slay.
Dallas receiver Terrance Williams was a healthy scratch for the first time in his six-year career. The Cowboys have struggled for consistency with their pass catchers in the first season without Jason Witten and Dez Bryant. They have seven receivers on the 53-man roster. Williams was the odd man out this week, and was a no-show at practice Friday.
- Lions: RG T.J. Lang didn’t return after sustaining a concussion in the first quarter.
- Cowboys: WR Tavon Austin injured his right shoulder falling to the ground after dropping a potential touchdown catch in the first half. He returned in the second half. … DT Antwaun Woods left in the first half with a calf injury. Woods was questionable before the game because of a groin injury.
- Lions: Green Bay at home next Sunday.
- Cowboys: At Houston next Sunday.
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