ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott got the Dallas offense going again, and spoiled Matthew Stafford’s homecoming again.
Brett Maher kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Cowboys to a 26-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Maher’s fourth field goal was set up by Prescott’s 34-yard completion to Elliott , his star running back, on a deep throw after Stafford had put the Lions in front with 2:17 remaining on a 38-yard touchdown to Golden Tate , their second TD connection of the day.
Elliott had a career-high 240 all-purpose yards, with 152 yards rushing and 88 receiving also highlighted by a 38-yard touchdown on a screen in the second quarter.
The best day of the season for a previously struggling Dallas offense handed Stafford his third straight loss at the home of the Cowboys (2-2), seven years after his only win in his first trip to AT&T Stadium. The former Dallas-area high school star threw for 307 yards.
Trailing 20-10, Stafford led the Lions (1-3) 75 yards to rookie Kerryon Johnson’s first career touchdown , an 8-yard run that started a back-and-fourth final quarter. Johnson ran 32 yards on the first play of the game and finished with 55.
After the Cowboys settled for Maher’s third field goal on an 85-yard drive, Stafford found Tate for 35 yards into Dallas territory before Tate easily beat zone coverage down the sideline and strutted toward the end zone, just as he had on a 45-yard score in the first quarter.
But Prescott had an answer while throwing for at least 200 yards for the first time this season. The Dallas quarterback saved the final drive by picking up a fumble when he was hit on the arm and scrambling before throwing the ball out of bounds.
Prescott then converted a third down on the next play and two plays later threw deep to Elliott with linebacker Jarrad Davis trailing the 2016 NFL rushing leader by a couple of steps. The Cowboys then killed the clock to set up Maher, the kicker they chose over trusty Dan Bailey at the end of the preseason in a cost-cutting move.
“It was a matchup we liked,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Dak liked what he saw from the coverage. Zeke did a great job on the route. Critical situation, made that throw. For Zeke to be able to finish it and put us in position for the game-winner, big time.”
Elliott had a season-high 25 carries for his 152 yards, and Prescott was 17 of 27 for 255 yards with two touchdowns, including tight end Geoff Swaim’s first career score .
Stafford was 24 of 30 with the two scores to Tate, who had eight catches for 132 yards.
ROUGHING THE PASSER
The touchdown screen to Elliott was set up by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Romeo Okwara. The question was whether the whistle had blown when he hit Prescott, who was trying to escape pressure when he stumbled out of an attempted tackle and went to a knee. Prescott popped up but had stopped moving, anticipating that he was down, when Okwara knocked him to the ground. Officials discussed the play before announcing two defensive penalties. The other was an illegal contact call against Darius Slay.
Dallas receiver Terrance Williams was a healthy scratch for the first time in his six-year career. The Cowboys have struggled for consistency with their pass catchers in the first season without Jason Witten and Dez Bryant. They have seven receivers on the 53-man roster. Williams was the odd man out this week, and was a no-show at practice Friday.
DeMarcus Lawrence matched his career high with three sacks after Stafford came in having been brought down just three times combined in the first three games. Those were all three Dallas sacks. Lawrence has at least half a sack in all four games.
Lions: RG T.J. Lang didn’t return after sustaining a concussion in the first quarter.
Cowboys: WR Tavon Austin injured his right shoulder falling to the ground after dropping a potential touchdown catch in the first half. He returned in the second half. … DT Antwaun Woods left in the first half with a calf injury. Woods was questionable before the game because of a groin injury.
Lions: Green Bay at home next Sunday.
Cowboys: At Houston next Sunday.