Defensive Line: B+
The defensive line did a fantastic job in run defense, allowing the Cowboys to rush for just 62 yards on 26 carries. Nick Fairley showed up for the first time in three weeks, pressuring Tony Romo three times. Devin Taylor played well in Ezekiel Ansah’s absence, drawing the holding penalty that allowed the Lions offense a full minute to complete the game winning drive.
Okay, I’m in. Detroit’s linebackers are for real. Tony Romo targeted his tight ends just four times, a testament to improved pass coverage by the linebackers today. They also played a big part in allowing the Cowboys rushing attack just 2.4 yards per carry.
Defensive backs: B-
Though they gave up three passing touchdowns, they really didn’t have a bad performance. Rookie Darius Slay had phenomenal coverage on Dez Bryant’s first touchdown catch. Chris Houston played extremely well after lackluster performances the past two weeks. A bad angle by Slay and a gamble on the ball led to two big plays that led to two additional touchdowns. There’s still room for improvement here.
Special Teams: A-
David Akers was perfect. Sam Martin continues to impress. The punt returners didn’t do anything flashy, but made no mistakes. (Again, hate to see Broyles go down.) Jeremy Ross returned one kickoff for 44 yards. One Dwayne Harris return for 56 yards keeps the grade from being a solid A.
Jim Schwartz made a decision in the 1st quarter to go for it on 4th down instead of taking a field goal. Turns out that was a pretty big decision. Schwartz also won his only challenge of the day. The defensive gameplan (mostly) shut down Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and the Cowboys run game. Minus the two big plays, the Cowboys had just 158 yards of total offense. Offensively, Detroit consistently exploited Dallas’ suspect pass defense, and if it weren’t for turnovers this one would have been a blowout. That lies more in execution than coaching.
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. Detroit now has two weeks to recover from injuries and prepare for the Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears. Things are looking up for the Honolulu Blue.