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Plays that shaped the season: No. 5

1/13/2014

Editor's note: In this series, Jean-Jacques Taylor counts down 10 plays that shaped the Cowboys' season.


Play No. 6: Matthew Stafford touchdown run

Situation: First-and-goal from the Dallas 1

Score: Dallas leads 30-24

Time: 14 seconds left in fourth quarter

Taylor's Take: The Cowboys proved they had one of the worst defenses in franchise history when they let Detroit gain a franchise-record 623 yards. Somehow, the Cowboys still had a chance to win, but Matthew Stafford drove the Lions 80 yards in less than a minute for the winning score. After a 23-yard completion to the Dallas 1, Stafford sprinted to the line of scrimmage, motioning the entire way as if he were going to spike the ball to stop the clock. When Stafford saw the Cowboys' defensive linemen expecting the spike, he took the snap and leaped into the end zone. It was a wretched ending to an abject defensive performance.

Season Impact: Losing this game is one of the reasons the Cowboys missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The defense created four turnovers, but the Cowboys kicked too many field goals, keeping Detroit close, and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had 329 yards receiving. This game demonstrated defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's inability to consistently make adjustments, and this is one of the classic games where the Cowboys found a way to lose instead of win.

Quote: "I mean, shoot, I'm just trying to make a play. We didn't play our best football, but we battled and sometimes in this league that's good enough to get you a win. It's crazy." -- Matthew Stafford