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Game recap: Cowboys 24, Lions 20

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Tony Romo mounted his 28th game-winning drive in the win over the Lions.Trailing 17-7 at halftime Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t have history on their side. They were 0-8 in playoff games in franchise history when trailing by double digits at halftime.

Double-Digit Deficits Overcome
in Cowboys' Postseason History

The Cowboys ended that streak, though, by beating the Detroit Lions, who remained winless in wild-card playoff games when Dallas rallied for a 24-20 victory.

Sunday’s win was tied for the second-largest comeback by the Cowboys in the postseason and their largest in more than 30 years.

Romo excels in second half

A strong second half from the Cowboys’ offense shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Tony Romo had a second-half Total QBR of 89.6 this season, best in the NFL. The next closest was Ben Roethlisberger (78.7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lions Pass Defense on 3rd/4th Down
This Season

Romo has 28 career game-winning drives (according to the Elias Sports Bureau), tied with Eli Manning for the most game-winning drives in the regular season and playoffs combined since Romo's first season as a starter in 2006.

Romo was 8-of-12 for 195 yards and two touchdown passes on third and fourth down. He produced first downs on 8-of-14 passes (57 percent) in those situations. Entering the game, the Lions’ defense allowed a 35.6 Total QBR on third and fourth down this season, seventh-best in the league.

Early trends not sustained

The Lions called runs on 50 percent of their first-quarter plays, helping them to a 14-0 lead. In the final three quarters, they called runs on 24 percent of their offensive plays and scored a total of six points.

Matthew Stafford completed his first pass thrown more than 10 yards downfield for a 51-yard touchdown. The rest of the game, on passes thrown more than 10 yards downfield, Stafford was 3-of-10 with an interception.

After taking care of the ball in the first half, Stafford committed three turnovers after halftime. Quarterbacks are 0-12 this season when committing three or more turnovers in the second half.

Fourth-down calls

On both of the Cowboys’ second-half touchdown drives, they went for -- and made -- a fourth-down conversion.

The first was DeMarco Murray’s 1-yard touchdown run that pulled the Cowboys within 20-14. The second, on fourth-and-6, was a 21-yard pass from Romo to Jason Witten that set up the go-ahead touchdown.

The Cowboys hadn’t gone for it on fourth down needing four or more yards this season, and they beat the odds when they made it on fourth-and-6: NFL teams had converted on 26 percent of fourth downs needing six or more yards in the regular season.

History

The only other playoff game in which the Lions led by 14 or more after the first quarter was the 1957 NFL Championship, when they led the Browns 17-0 and won 59-14 for their most recent NFL title. Sunday’s loss made the Lions’ record in wild-card games 0-8.

This game was the second time the Cowboys trailed by 14 or more at the end of the first quarter in a playoff game. In the 1994 NFC Championship, they trailed the San Francisco 49ers 21-7 before losing 38-28.

The Cowboys advanced to a divisional playoff game against the Packers in Green Bay. Dallas has played in Green Bay in the playoffs once before: Dec. 31, 1967, in the "Ice Bowl." Current forecasts are for a high in Green Bay next Sunday of 18 degrees.