The Dallas Cowboys are going on to Green Bay for a divisional-round matchup with the Packers.
The Detroit Lions are going home angry about what might have been, if not for a truly bizarre piece of officiating.
With the Lions leading 20-17 in the fourth quarter, a pass interference call that gave the Lions a first down well into Dallas territory was picked up without explanation by referee Pete Morelli. That turned into a huge benefit for the Cowboys, as the Lions shanked a punt on the next play and the Cowboys took advantage of their good field position to march down the field and score the go-ahead touchdown to take a 24-20 lead.
That call — which former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira criticized during the FOX broadcast of the game — will live in infamy in Detroit. It cost the Lions a great chance to win their first playoff game since 1991. But there’s nothing the Lions can do now except sit home and watch while the Cowboys move on in the playoffs.
The Cowboys team that’s moving on is a team led by quarterback Tony Romo, who turned in a big performance today that should silence anyone who questions whether he can play well in a big game. Romo was under relentless pressure for much of the game, but he played very well anyway, completing 19 of 31 passes for 293 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Lions’ run defense mostly held DeMarco Murray in check, although Murray did score a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play that helped spur the Cowboys’ comeback. But Murray will surely be a threat for the rest of the playoffs, particularly in the elements in Green Bay.
Detroit was moving the ball at will on the Lions’ defense early in the game, but the Cowboys stiffened up late in the game. Dallas will have a tough test next weekend against Aaron Rodgers and Co.
And that should be a good game. The Cowboys and the Packers at Lambeau Field is what the NFL is all about. Even if Lions fans think it should be their team moving on.