ARLINGTON, Texas - Matthew Stafford took the final snap, dropped to a knee and tucked the ball under his jersey for safekeeping.
He wanted a souvenir to remind him of his first NFL game in his hometown — not that he, or anyone else involved, is likely to forget this one.
A week after turning a 20-point halftime deficit into an overtime win, the Lions provided further proof they're a legitimate contender by turning a 24-point, third-quarter deficit into a 34-30 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Week 4 in the NFL
"It's crazy how it happens," Stafford said. "When it was 27-3, we knew we had to start making plays. Once we did, we started catching fire."
Detroit is 4-0 and has won an NFL-best eight straight games. This also was its franchise-record fifth straight road win, avenging a loss here last November that had been its NFL-record 26th straight road loss.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys (2-2) continued to show there's no lead and no deficit too big for them. They blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead for the first time in franchise history in the opener, and this was their largest lead blown in a loss in franchise history. Dallas' previous biggest blown lead was 21 against Washington on Nov. 28, 1965, when the Cowboys led 21-0 in the second quarter on the way to a 34-31 loss.
Meltdowns against the Jets in Week 1 and this one are bookends around two straight late-game victories pulled out by Romo despite a cracked rib.
The rib wasn't to blame this time, but Romo certainly will be because of the two interceptions returned for TDs, and another interception with 4:13 left that set up Detroit's winning score. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was quick to defend his quarterback, saying: "I have a lot of faith in Romo. This doesn't touch that."
This was a bizarre way for the Cowboys to end an NFL-record streak of nine straight games decided by a field goal or less. The final play was wacky, too, with Felix Jones catching a short pass with no one around him on fourth-and-20, then running out of bounds after only gaining 8 yards.
So much for a 3-1 start and a bye week to savor it. Instead, Dallas players will suffer through an additional week of questions about Romo's leadership and their overall inability to put games away. At least they'll have time to get over all their injuries, not that those were much of a factor in this loss.
Stafford had dozens of relatives and friends in the crowd, including his high school coach, which may have been part of the reason he struggled early.
His first pass to Johnson was intercepted, leading to Dallas' first touchdown. The defense was constantly in his face, forcing rushed throws or throwaways. He was only 9 of 23 at the half.
Once the interceptions were returned for touchdowns, Stafford looked like a different man. He stood strong in the pocket, and did a better job of finding Johnson.
They connected on a 23-yarder in the end zone, when Johnson reached over three defenders, to make it 30-24. After a third interception by Romo led to a 51-yard field goal by Jason Hanson, Stafford and Johnson connected for the winner. It came against tight coverage on a play when the Cowboys had 12 defenders on the field.
PFT: Tom Brady, who turns 36 in August, says he has "never felt better throwing the football" and his confidence is peaking.
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