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Week 4 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 24, Dallas Cowboys 26


What you need to know

Detroit Lions

Detroitís offense played well at Dallas, despite a loss. Matthew Stafford and the offense had a strong second half, erasing a two-score deficit before the defense gave up a late Dallas scoring drive. Kerryon Johnson started the first drive for Detroit for the first time this season and was clearly the best running back for Detroit. Golden Tate led the receivers, scoring two touchdowns, while both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones played well.

Dallas Cowboys

The game script was perfect for Dallas to have a bounce back game against the Lions. Ezekiel Elliott was fed 29 touches and the passing game centered around ball control and Dak Prescott playing under control. The Dallas defense also needed to play well enough to keep Dallas in the game, which also occurred. The wide receiver position is still a heavy rotation of contributors, but Michel Gallup finally flashed a deep reception moment in his fourth NFL game, playing above the rim on a well-covered go route. While Dallas will struggle to keep up with the best offenses in the NFL, they showed adequate production in a must-win home game centering their attack on their best offensive player, Ezekiel Elliott.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 30 - 307 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0
Matthew Stafford had a good game against the Dallas Cowboys. Stafford threw for two touchdowns and 307 yards on only 30 attempts. While the number may look like he was successful down the field, it was big run after catches by Golden Tate for two long touchdowns that accounted for the high yards per attempt. Stafford was better than earlier in the season and was largely efficient outside of a couple missed throws. He also showed good ability to escape pressure throughout the game. Stafford has a strong arsenal of weapons and when kept upright this type of game is a floor for his production.

RB Kerryon Johnson, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 55 - 1, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets)
Kerryon Johnson saw the first carry of the game for an explosive 32-yard run. Johnson ran as the clear starter through the first drive before later sharing time with LeGarrette Blount. Johnson is the more explosive and versatile of the two, and Detroitís usage of the two has shown a steady progression toward Johnson. Johnsonís touchdown run was a good power run where he broke a tackle and ran through another at the goal line.

RB LeGarrette Blount, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 12 - 0
LeGarrette Blount was the second back to see carries for Detroit after Kerryon Johnson. Blount split carries with Johnson through the rest of the game but was the clearly inferior player. Blount saw little room to run and had a hard time creating on his own. Detroit had a red zone opportunity where Johnson was given the opportunity to score a touchdown.

RB Theo Riddick, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (5 targets)
Theo Riddick got the opportunity for passing game work against Dallas and was involved in a two-minute drill at the end of the second half. Riddick is a reliable receiving option, but is not frequently used in the running game, and has fantasy appeal only in negative game script.

WR Golden Tate, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 132 - 2 (8 targets)
Golden Tate had his best day of the season, scoring two long touchdowns. The first was a comeback route from the slot where he broke a tackle from the primary defender for a long run after the catch. The second was an out and up where Tate got lost in coverage. Tate had his usual short and intermediate targets, but the deeper plays were an expansion of his typical role, especially the comeback route from the slot which is difficult to defend.

WR Kenny Golladay, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 74 - 0 (4 targets)
Kenny Golladay had a strong game against Dallas. Golladay showed his range making multiple catches away from his body and made a difficult back shoulder catch along the sideline. Golladay also had an excellent catch and run for a first down on a crossing route that showed off his speed. With three good receivers in the offense, Golladay will have low target games, but he made the most of all his targets.

WR Marvin Jones, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 56 - 0 (6 targets)
Marvin Jones had a highlight over the shoulder catch along the sideline and caught a deep crossing route in contested coverage. Jones was also targeted on a fade in the end zone that was well covered and fell incomplete. Despite Kenny Golladayís continued emergence in the offense, Jones has a secure role as a deep threat for Matthew Stafford and the two were able to connect after near misses earlier in the season.


Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 27 - 255 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 2 - 0
It was an up-and-down game for Prescott against the Lions. While averaging more than nine yards-per-attempt through the air, Prescott missed a few critical opportunities to break the game open at various points. Prescott had overthrown passes of Michael Gallup (deep end zone), Geoff Swaim (end zone), Rico Gathers (end zone), and a should-have-been interception towards Gallup all tarnish is solid 255 yards and two-touchdown performance. Two scoring drives were vanquished by Prescott mistakes as well, taking a sack on the edge of field goal range on third down and later stalling at the goal line where a field goal left the game instead of putting the game away. On the positive side, after all the mistakes, Prescott led a potential season-changing drive down the field for the game-winning field goal with less than two minutes to play. Prescottís highlight moment came on a perfect deep go route to Ezekiel Elliott as Dallas positioned itself for the field goal.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 25 - 152 - 0, Rec: 4 - 88 - 1 (4 targets)
Ezekiel Elliott had more touches than the rest of the Dallas offense combined as the Cowboys showed a balanced attack centering on their offensive superstar in the much-needed home win against Detroit. Elliott saw 29 touches and amassed a career-high 240 total yards. Elliott exhibited more burst and power on his interior runs than the first couple of games this season of note. Elliottís patience was also a factor, waiting for backside angles to develop. Elliottís most promising development was his use in the passing game, where he had less than 40 yards total through the opening three games of the season. Elliott saw quality blocking on a screen reception for a touchdown and later made the critical long reception down the sideline to position Dallas for the game-winning field goal, a usage not common for Elliott to this point in his career.

WR Cole Beasley, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 53 - 0 (5 targets)
It was nearly halftime before Beasley saw a target in Dallasí Ezekiel Elliott-centric offensive attack against the Lions. Beasley had an uncharacteristic drop in a contested situation, but also added yards-after-catch on another reception and a deeper out route to his performance. After a Week 2 clunker against the Giants, Beasley has put up solid outings the last two weeks, offering stability to a developing wide receiver depth chart for Dallas.

WR Allen Hurns, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets)
Allen Hurns saw five targets against Detroit but was an ancillary puzzle piece to Dallasí passing game. Hurnsí greatest impact came on two receptions in the fourth quarter, including a third down catch to extend Dallasí game-winning drive. Earlier in the game, Hurns had a nice toe-drag on an out-breaking route to secure the catch.

WR Michael Gallup, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 45 - 0 (5 targets)
For the first time this season Michael Gallup showed flashes of what made him a Day 2 draft pick this offseason. Gallup has largely been swallowed up by opposing defensive backs, but Gallup hauled in a contested sideline target, Dak Prescottís best (and most bold) throw of the game. Gallup played above the rim to make the long reception. Gallup also had an end zone target in the game, but was overthrown by Prescott. While a single game, Gallupís downfield play this week would be a key addition for Dallasí passing game searching for an identity through the opening month of the season.

TE Geoff Swaim, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 1 (5 targets)
Swaim is developing chemistry with Dak Prescott, logging a second straight quality performance. Swaim saw two of his receptions off play-action, the first breaking wide open for 30 yards and plenty of after-the-catch yardage. At the goal line, Swaim was again wide open after a hard play-action fake for his first touchdown of the season. Swaim had an opportunity later in the game for another touchdown, but dropped a target in the end zone. With minimal pressure from the rest of the depth chart, Swaim is seeing high-level snaps and progressing in his passing game role, especially near the end zone.