The Detroit Lions took the Dallas Cowboys down to the wire, only to suffer a narrow and controversial defeat. Despite battling through inconsistent offense, the Lions defense valiantly kept them in the game. Unfortunately, the Lions’ final drive, marred by a contentious referee decision, left them short of a victory. Oh, and 227 yards on 13 receptions from Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb happened. 

First Quarter: A Promising Start

The Lions opened with focus, showcasing a balanced attack led by Jared Goff’s precision passing to Amon-Ra St. Brown and Kalif Raymond, and David Montgomery’s powerful runs in between the tackles. They secured an early lead with Michael Badgley’s 41-yard field goal. The defense, spearheaded by Ifeatu Melifonwu’s interception off Dak Prescott, seemed poised to dominate. However, the Cowboys struck back with a 92-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to star wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, turning the tides for a 7-3 lead at quarter’s end.

Second Quarter: A Tug of War 

The Lions’ momentum was briefly halted by Jourdan Lewis’s interception, but they quickly regained composure. A pivotal moment came when Kindle Vildor forced a fumble from Lamb, preventing a certain Cowboys score. Despite a clever fake punt leading to a significant gain, the Lions faltered at the goal line, turning the ball over on downs. The half ended with the Cowboys maintaining a slender 7-3 advantage over the Lions.

Third Quarter: Lions Claw Back 

Emerging determined, the Lions’ defense held firm, forcing a Cowboys punt. Offensively, they leaned on Montgomery’s determined running and Sam LaPorta’s clutch receptions. They would push the ball down the field and Montgomery’s three yard touchdown rush would push them to a 10-7 lead. The Cowboys, equalized with a 51-yard field goal of their own, setting a 10-10 deadlock.

Fourth Quarter: A Rollercoaster of Emotions

The Lions, reenergized, added a field goal following Goff’s 63-yard bomb to Jameson Williams. The Cowboys responded with an impressively efficient drive, culminating with Prescott connecting with Brandin Cooks for a touchdown, taking a 17-13 lead. A subsequent interception by Cowboys cornerback Donovan Wilson, seemed to seal the Lions’ fate, but Detroit rallied for one final drive.

The Controversial Final Drive

In a thrilling final drive, the Detroit Lions showcased their best offensive performance of the day. Jared Goff, in top form, started the drive with a 10-yard completion to Sam LaPorta. He followed up with a 25-yard strike to LaPorta, maintaining their momentum. Amon-Ra St. Brown then contributed with a crucial 14-yard catch, and another 15-yard reception from LaPorta brought the Lions to the Cowboys’ 11-yard line. Goff connected with St. Brown for an 11-yard touchdown, bringing the score to a nail-biting 20-19, with the Cowboys still in the lead.

In a bold move, Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell decided to go for a two-point conversion, aiming for a win rather than a tie. Goff executed a brilliantly designed play, finding left tackle Taylor Decker in the back of the end zone. It seemed like a game-winning moment as the Lions appeared to take a 21-20 lead. However, the celebration was cut short by an unexpected referee flag thrown late after the play. Decker was penalized for illegal touching, a call met with disbelief as video evidence suggested he had reported his eligibility.

Despite the setback and widespread disagreement with the call, Campbell chose to attempt the two-point conversion again, now from a disadvantaged position. In a twist of fate, Cowboys’ Micah Parsons committed an offsides penalty, giving the Lions yet another chance. However, in this high-pressure moment, Goff’s final pass, intended for tight end James Mitchell, fell short of the mark.

A Heartbreaking Loss

The Lions’ spirited final drive ended in heartbreak, with a 20-19 loss. The game’s conclusion, marked by controversy and high drama, left the Lions and their fans with a mix of pride for their effort and frustration at the contentious officiating.

 The Lions’ heart and resilience, however, send a clear message: they are a force to be reckoned with.

Key Stats


  • Jared Goff: 19/34, 271 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
  • David Montgomery: 14 rushes, 65 yards, 1 TD
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown: 6 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD
  • Sam LaPorta: 7 catches, 84 yards


  • Cam Sutton: 10 tackles, 1 TFL
  • Alex Anzalone: 8 tackles, 1 TFL
  • Aidan Hutchinson: 5 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 QBH, 4 TFL, 1 FF
  • Kindle Vildor: 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF


For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21


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Original Photo Credit: © Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports

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By Published On: December 31st, 2023Categories: Detroit Lions, NFL

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