The Cowboys held a 3-point lead when they got the ball back at the Detroit 31 with 1:24 remaining, but the Lions still held two timeouts.
Joseph Randle lost 3 yards on first down, and Phillip Tanner lost 1 yard on second down. With the Lions then out of timeouts with 1:14 left, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett chose to run the ball again instead of taking a knee.
“We were on the cusp of field-goal range, so I think what was critical at that point was to make sure we didn’t have any runs go backward and try to get a run that goes forward to give us a better chance to kick that field goal,” Garrett said. “We were on the 35-yard line. We were right there. So that was the thought... to get a run that goes north and south and be a positive play for us.”
While Tanner went 9 yards on third-and-14, left tackle Tyron Smith was called for holding. The Lions declined the penalty, but it stopped the clock with 1:07 left.
Smith, who has had only one holding penalty accecpted against him all year, declined comment.
“That’s a big play in the game,” Garrett said. “You get the holding penalty there, and that stops the clock. …[The plan is] you get the third-down run, and you get the clock down to about 30 or so seconds, maybe even below that, and increase you chances of winning when you take that time off the clock.”
The Cowboys kicked a 44-yard field goal to take a 30-24 lead, but they left the Lions with 1:02 remaining.
Owner Jerry Jones said he wouldn’t second-guess Garrett’s decision not to have Tony Romo take a knee on third down.
“I liked [the decision],” Jones said. “I might have said that before we made the field goal, but after we made the field goal, I liked the move. And we forced them to have to make a touchdown, which they did. It would have been, we would have been sitting right here really second-guessing if they’d have gone down there and kicked their field goal [for a tie if the Cowboys hadn’t kicked a field goal]. But we were having trouble stopping them. We all know that.”
-- Charean Williams