Being a Patriots fan living in Dallas, I originally tried to sell my playoff tickets because at the end of the day I like money more, but I did not get what I was asking on Stub Hub or eBay.  So Carolyn and I decided to turn the game into a date and I am very happy we did.  It was a fun way to spend time together and the Cowboys/Lions game was, well, just a “tad” bit exciting.

The game took a lot of twists and turns, there was some of the “typical” play calling that drives me crazy with the Cowboys, like attempting to pass on 3rd and 1 from Detroit’s 7 yard line at the start of the half.  Why not just run it there – why?  Get a first down and give yourself 3 more cracks at the end zone. Instead, Romo was sacked and wouldn’t you know it, one of the most accurate kickers in the league, Dan Bailey, shanked a 30 yard field goal reminiscent of  Raven’s kicker Billy Cundiff’s 32 yard yoke in the AFC Championship in 2011.  Although the miss did not lose the game, like Cundiff’s did (I still love the look of disbelief on Terrell Suggs’ face and then he mouths, “Oh my God” twice right after the miss, but I digress), it was a big swing in the game right after Hitchens’ interception to open the half.  And there were the impressive turns, like Romo standing in the pocket, all day to throw to Terrence Williams for the go-ahead TD.  The place was rocking, loudest I’ve heard it.  It was consistently hitting 110 dB -most games struggle to get to 100 dB in that place.

On the way home, Carolyn and I talked a lot of the game.  The headliner was the overturned call on Hitchens’ pass interference on Detroit’s Pettigrew.  It happened on the far side from where we sit, but I said pass interference as soon as it happened.  The guy next to me went, “yup, face guarding”.  It turns out face guarding is not a penalty – tell that to former Patriot Ellis Hobbs, who was called for face guarding Reggie Wayne in the ’07 AFC Championship.  On this play, as you may have heard, the ref had announced pass interference, the chains had moved, Detroit was signaling in the next play when, bam, on the Jumbo-Tron (and it is a Jumbo-Tron for sure), there is the ref saying the flag was picked up and the penalty waived off.  Never have I seen that happen, never.  People can debate whether it was pass interference, for the record I think it was, as Hitchens’ got his left arm up into Pettigrew’s low shoulder/upper arm area as Pettigrew was going for the ball.  Plus the league has been super tight on defensive holding/pass interference this year so this play seemed to fit that bill.  The league came out after the game and said as much. Defensive holding should have been called, according to the head of officials, Dean Blandino.  Hitchens’ did have a fist full of jersey as Pettigrew was breaking into his route, so whatever, either could/should have been called.  But what I saw as an obvious penalty was Dez Bryant for an “Unsportsmanlike conduct” personal foul.  He ran on the field, like out to the numbers, and was all over the side judge right after the initial call.  I was astonished he got away with that – that to me is where the league got it wrong by not saying that was not a missed call by the ref’s too.

The whole episode with the pass interference felt like the Brady tuck rule call from the playoff game against the Raiders in 2001.  I am on the phone with my dad going over the play that night, while the replay review was happening.   I remember thinking how long the replay was taking and then whamo, incomplete pass, my dad and I were shocked.  Pat’s then kick a 48 yard field goal, in a blizzard, to tie the game and win it in OT.  Now this game was not nearly as dramatic, but watching Dallas pull off two ballsy 4th down calls, the last one was the biggest, being 4th down and 6 from the 45 yard line with 6 minutes left, was something.  Dallas had two TO’s and if it is me, I punt that ball there.  Pin them deep knowing I have those two TO’s and the two minute warning.  That was the play of the day to Witten on 4th and 6.  More nonsense from Blandino on this play, he says the refs missed a holding call on Ndamukong  Suh on that play.  Really Dean?  How about we go over the whole game and look at each play to determine where the ref’s missed calls.  What a chump move – I promise you Dean it went both ways.

On the other side, and all penalty crap aside, why Detroit stopped blitzing in the second half is a mystery.  I was at both Cowboy’s games against the Redskins and Cardinals and both of those teams blitzed the heck out of the Cowboys.  Both games were Cowboy losses and in fairness, Romo was out for the Cardinals game because Washington put a hurting on him the game before. But the keys to those two games were the relentless blitzes by both of those teams.  Tony Romo, right now with his injury, is less mobile than Tom Brady.  He is not going to run to escape the blitz and if he does not check down quickly or audible pre snap, which by the way I don’t think he does all that much, he gets sacked or throws a duck because he is hurried.  Then after you’ve hit him, his next few throws are not quite the same until he gets himself right.  He was bouncing in some throws in the first half on occasion right after some of those hits.

Through all this, there was no time my phone was blowing up more than when Demarcus Lawrence pulled a Leon Lett (famous for dumb plays) and tried to run with a fumble he recovered and then fumbled the ball back to Detroit.  If he falls on the ball, it is game over.  Such a bone head play, but he made up for it with the game ending sack and fumble recovery on Detroit’s last play of the game.

All in all, a highly entertaining, highly controversial game and a big playoff win for Big D.   For the record, I think they have no shot in Green Bay, but we’ll see – that is why you line up and play.