Lions vs. Cowboys final score, results: Dallas survives chaotic finish, wins after controversial penalty on Taylor Decker

The Cowboys entered Saturday night with a perfect home record this season, and they walked off the field with that record intact. That doesn’t tell the full story of how close they came to losing a third consecutive game.

Dallas’ defense appeared to seal the win when Donovan Wilson intercepted Jared Goff just before the two-minute warning, but a series of questionable decisions put the ball back in Goff’s hands with plenty of time on the clock. After a penalty set the Cowboys back to first-and-25, Mike McCarthy opted to run three pass plays that took only a handful of seconds off the clock and gifted the Lions a chance to tie or win the game.

Detroit took advantage. Dan Quinn’s defense curiously took pressure off Goff, and he led a quick, methodical drive that ended in an Amon-Ra St. Brown touchdown with 23 seconds remaining.

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Anyone who knows anything about Dan Campbell knew he was going for the win after St. Brown scored, but that’s when chaos unfolded. The initial two-point try was caught by OT Taylor Decker, but officials threw a late flag for illegal contact on the grounds that Decker didn’t report himself as an eligible receiver. Replay showed Decker walking up to an official before the snap.

Campbell opted to go for two again from the 7-yard line, only for Micah Parsons to jump too early and move the Lions back toward the goal line. The third attempt was unsuccessful, with Goff throwing too low on what otherwise looked like a well-structured play.

While the decision to penalize Decker will go down as the burning question out of Saturday’s game, Campbell’s bold decision making — including a decision to pass on a field goal four yards from the end zone in the second quarter — might beg the question of whether he was over-aggressive in the loss

CeeDee Lamb’s dominance of the Lions’ secondary was equally as large of a factor in Detroit’s loss, as the Cowboys star erupted for 227 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown that gave Dallas its first lead of the night.

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The defeat likely takes the Lions out of contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, barring surprising losses down the stretch from both the Eagles and 49ers, but the Cowboys remain firmly in NFC East contention with the win if the Eagles slip up before the end of the regular season.

The Sporting News tracked live updates from Saturday night’s game between the Lions and Cowboys. Check out all of the key moments you might have missed.

Lions vs. Cowboys final score

   1   2   3   4   F 
Lions 3 0 7 9 19
Cowboys 7 0 3 10 20

Lions vs. Cowboys results, highlights from Week 17 game

(All times Eastern)

Final: Cowboys 20, Lions 19

11:20 p.m. — This one is officially over, as the Cowboys remain in NFC East contention while the Lions all but guarantee they will be playing on wild-card weekend.

11:19 p.m. — The coaching decisions have been questionable at best from both sides tonight, and the feeling after this game will be that Campbell got a bit too cute with his decision-making. 

Cowboys 20, Lions 19

11:17 p.m. — The two-point try is NO GOOD. Goff’s throw was just too low, and the Cowboys are going to win this game. 

11:16 p.m. — Campbell decides to go for two from the 7-yard line, which is an extraordinary risk, but Micah Parsons jumps early. We will get a third try from Detroit. 

11:14 p.m. — Wow. The two-point try is good to OT Taylor Decker of all players, but now a flag comes in for illegal touching and might force the Lions into an extra point attempt. 

11:12 p.m. TOUCHDOWN — What a drive. St. Brown takes it in for the Lions, and they will go for two and the win. It comes down to this.

11:11 p.m. — Goff gets it down to the 10 on a completion to LaPorta, and the Lions clock it at 27 seconds. If they get into the end zone, look for Detroit to potentially go for two and win it. 

11:09 p.m. — The Lions are down to the Cowboys’ 26 after a catch by St. Brown. 48 seconds on the clock.

11:08 p.m. — Wow, Goff hits LaPorta on back-to-back throws and quickly takes the Lions into Dallas territory. Detroit has some life.

Cowboys 20, Lions 13

11:05 p.m. FIELD GOAL — Aubrey’s kick is good, so the Cowboys extend their lead to seven.

11:04 p.m. — The Cowboys throw it three times after a 1st & 25, get it to 4th & 6, and now are set to go for a 43-yard field goal.

111:02 p.m. — CeeDee Lamb is just carving up the Lions’ secondary. He’s up to 227 yards on 13 catches.

10:58  p.m. INTERCEPTION — Jared Goff does what he absolutely can’t do and throws an interception to Donovan Wilson. A brutal moment for the Lions.

10:57 p.m. — The Lions’ drive begins with a first down grab by Sam LaPorta.

10:55 p.m. — It’s a THREE-sack night for Hutchinson, who totally blows up the Cowboys’ drive and ends any chance of a field goal. The Lions will be getting this all back, though their field position likely won’t be strong.

10:53 p.m. — The Lions let CeeDee Lamb get loose for 22 yards on third down, and Detroit is really playing with fire now.

10:49 p.m. — An illegal contact call gives the Cowboys a first down, and the Lions have to be careful not to let this game get away from them. 

10:46 p.m. — That was not the response the Lions were looking for. Goff comes under heavy pressure on third down and throws incomplete, so Detroit will punt it back almost immediately. 

Cowboys 17, Lions 13

10:40 p.m. TOUCHDOWN — How about that answer by the Cowboys? Prescott hits Cooks in the end zone for six, and Dallas jumps out to a 17-13 lead with 7:20 remaining in the game. Prescott is up to 32 touchdown passes on the year.

10:39 p.m. — Tony Pollard has the Cowboys in the red zone…

10:38 p.m. — Prescott comes under pressure but picks up another first down on a low pass to Jalen Tolbert. 

10:37 p.m. — Prescott drops it right in the bucket on a pass to Cooks. He couldn’t have placed it any better as the Cowboys pick up a first down. 

10:36 p.m. — CeeDee Lamb has 189 yards tonight, and he now holds the Cowboys’ single-season receiving record. That’s no small feat for one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. Lamb is past 1,600 yards on the season.

10:34 p.m. — Jameson Williams is heading to the locker room. It’s unclear what he injured on the big catch that set up the field goal.

Lions 13, Cowboys 10

10:31 p.m. FIELD GOAL — This time, Detroit was simply trying to get Dallas to jump. Badgley drills a 30-yard field goal try to put the Lions back in front with 12 minutes to play.

10:30 p.m. — The Lions look like they’ll go for it on 4th & 3…

10:26 p.m. — Jameson Williams burns DaRon Bland and catches a bomb from Goff for 63 yards. That’s the breakthrough play the Lions’ passing game has been looking for. Detroit is in field goal range. 

End of third quarter: Lions 10, Cowboys 10

10:22 p.m. — A 34-yard run by Gibbs is brought all the way back by a holding penalty. 

Lions 10, Cowboys 10

10:20 p.m. FIELD GOAL — The drive doesn’t end the way the Cowboys were hoping, but they do tie it up on a 51-yard field goal by the automatic Brandon Aubrey. It’s 10-10.

10:16 p.m. — When in doubt, CeeDee Lamb. Prescott finds his top receiver, who muscles his way past the first down marker to keep this drive very much alive.

10:14 p.m. — Tyler Smith is down and grabbing at the back of his leg as the Cowboys face 3rd & 11. That’s a bad development for a Dallas line that has been imperfect tonight.

10:11 p.m. — Tony Pollard has had a rough night, but he finally breaks through with an 18-yard run to take the Cowboys into Lions territory.

Lions 10, Cowboys 7

10:07 p.m. TOUCHDOWN — Montgomery is in for the touchdown! The Lions have had the ball plenty tonight, but they finally get into the end zone deep into the third quarter. Detroit is in front.

10:06 p.m. — It’s third and roughly two yards just a few yards from the end zone, after Montgomery pushed Detroit closer to the goal line.

10:01 p.m. — Sam LaPorta picks up the key first down for Detroit.

10:00 p.m. — Fourth down coming up for the Lions on 4th & short…the offense stays on the field.

9:59 p.m. — Montgomery runs the Lions right into Dallas territory as he goes for 21 yards. The running game has been pretty effective for Detroit aside from the occasional big play by Lawrence or Parsons.

9:56 p.m. — The Lions do force a punt, so the defense continues to do its job. Pressure is mounting on the offense to put points on the board.

9:53 p.m. — Lamb gets back in on the action with a first down catch.

9:52 p.m. — This opening drive is a major moment for the Lions’ defense, which has been great tonight but has been forced to play with little margin for error.

9:50 p.m. — Legendary Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor during halftime.

End of first half: Cowboys 7, Lions 3

9:35 p.m. — Hutchinson sacks Prescott to put a quick end to any hope the Cowboys had of scoring before halftime. That’s Hutchinson’s second sack of the night.

9:32 p.m. — That was an abysmal drive by the Lions, as Demarcus Lawrence drops Gibbs behind the line of scrimmage on third down and forces a quick punt. Detroit will have to hope Dallas doesn’t put points on the board before the end of the half. The Cowboys have 44 seconds and a timeout to work with.

9:29 p.m. — Kalif Raymond puts together a nice return for the Lions, and this sequence will be a critical one for Goff. Detroit does not get the ball out of halftime. 

9:28 p.m. — The Cowboys will punt it away with just under two minutes remaining.

9:25 p.m. — A delay of game penalty will make it 3rd & 22 for the Cowboys out of the two-minute warning. The Lions are looking for one more possession before the end of the half.

9:23 p.m. — Aidan Hutchinson makes a huge play, taking down Prescott for a 8-yard loss after beating Tyron Smith. It’s 3rd & 17 for Dallas.

9:17 p.m. — This risk doesn’t work out in Campbell’s favor. Goff is pressured immediately and throws incomplete in the end zone. The Cowboys will take over with their lead intact. 

9:15 p.m. — Detroit misses three opportunities to punch it in. Will the Lions go for it from four yards out of the end zone? This looks like a risky call by Campbell. 

9:13 p.m. — The Lions are slicing through the Cowboys’ run defense all of a sudden. Gibbs rattles off back-to-back big runs, and his 17-yard gain has Detroit in a 1st & Goal situation. 

9:11 p.m. — What a call by Dan Campbell. The Lions fake the punt, and they could not have done it any better as Jalen Reeves-Maybin throws a perfect pass to Khalil Dorsey for 31 yards.

9:08 p.m. FUMBLE — One of the most controversial rules in football haunts the Cowboys. Lamb fumbles through the end zone, and that is automatically a touchback for the Lions. What a massive momentum shift. 

9:05 p.m. — Just like that, another catch by Cooks has the Cowboys in the red zone.

9:04 p.m. — Prescott quickly finds Brandin Cooks for a 20-yard gain.

9:00 p.m. INTERCEPTION — Now Jourdan Lewis intercepts Goff! Both teams have a turnover already, and this one erases what could’ve been a scoring opportunity for Detroit.

8:59 p.m. — There’s another big gain for St. Brown, who’s up to 56 yards on three catches as he tries to kickstart this Lions drive.

End of first quarter: Cowboys 7, Lions 3

8:55 p.m. — The Lions force a 3rd & 14, and the Cowboys just run it with Pollard. Unsuccessful. Dallas will punt it away and give the Lions a chance to get decent field position. 

8:50 p.m. — Now its the Cowboys run defense’s turn to make a play, dropping David Montgomery for a loss and bringing up fourth down. 

8:46 p.m. — Replay shows Derrick Barnes had a shot to wrap up Prescott in the end zone, but he just…ran right past him. Meanwhile, Lions safety Tracy Walker is down and in pain after the kickoff. 

Cowboys 7, Lions 3

8:42 p.m. TOUCHDOWN — Woah! Prescott is nearly sacked for a safety, but he gets away and finds Lamb for a massive 92-yard touchdown. 92. yards.

8:40 p.m. — These run defenses are making plays early on. Tony Pollard is now down to -5 yards on two carries.

8:37 p.m. — Dorance Armstrong sacks Goff, and those two plays take the Lions out of field goal range entirely. Detroit will punt as Dallas gets a crucial defensive stop.

8:36 p.m. — What a play by Micah Parsons, who drops Jahmyr Gibbs for a four-yard loss. Parsons was all over that. 

8:35 p.m. — St. Brown goes for 14 yards on the catch-and-run as he looks poised for another huge night. 

8:31 p.m. INTERCEPTION — Prescott is picked off by Ifeatu Melifonwu! Melifonwu read it well and took it right out of Lamb’s grasp to end a scoring opportunity for the Cowboys. 

8:29 p.m. — Big play for CeeDee Lamb on third down! Cameron Sutton misses the tackle, and Lamb breaks free for 31 yards on his first catch of the night.

Lions 3, Cowboys 0

8:23 p.m. FIELD GOAL — The Lions don’t convert this time, and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway  with a call for a block in the back. Michael Badgley drills a 41-yard field goal to give Detroit an early lead.

8:21 p.m. — Another third down, another conversion. David Montgomery runs up the middle for a first down and more as the Lions go comfortably into field goal range.

8:18 p.m. — Amon-Ra St. Brown, who’s finishing up an outstanding season, takes Detroit into Dallas territory with a 23-yard grab. 

8:17 p.m. — A choppy start for the Lions’ offense, but Goff throws a dart to Kalif Raymond on 3rd & 10 to avoid a three-and-out. 

8:15 p.m. — Jared Goff and the Lions’ offense will start with the ball.

8:00 p.m. — Among the milestones that can be reached tonight, Jared Goff is 16 yards shy of 4,000 for the season while Sam LaPorta is quickly rising among the all-time rookie leaders for yards by a tight end. Dak Prescott is also 108 yards away from 4,000, while CeeDee Lamb is 76 yards shy of 1,500 for the year. 

7:45 p.m. — The Lions cannot be eliminated from No. 1 seed contention tonight, but a loss would mean just a 49ers OR Eagles win tomorrow ends their hopes of a bye. 

7:15 p.m. — The Cowboys cannot be eliminated from NFC East contention tonight, but a loss and an Eagles win tomorrow would end those hopes. A loss would knock Dallas out of contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

6:55 p.m. — No surprises on the Cowboys’ inactives list.

6:50 p.m. — CB Cameron Sutton is a go for the Lions. Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is nearing a return but was not activated ahead of tonight.

6:20 p.m. — It’s also a special night for Jimmy Johnson, who will finally be honored by Jerry Jones and the Cowboys.

6:15 p.m. — The Cowboys are a perfect 7-0 at home this season. Considering Dallas has simply been a different team at AT&T Stadium, a Lions win would be a sign that Dan Campbell’s team can win in a tough environment in the playoffs.

What channel is Lions vs. Cowboys on today?

  • Game: Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 30
  • TV channel: ESPN, ABC
  • Live stream: ESPN+, Fubo (U.S.) | DAZN (Canada)

With no “Monday Night Football” broadcast on New Year’s Day, ESPN’s crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call Saturday night’s game between the Lions and Cowboys from AT&T Stadium.

The game will also air on ABC. Lisa Salters will serve as a sideline reporter providing updates to Buck and Aikman.

Fans can also stream the game via ESPN+ or Fubo, which offers a free trial. Viewers in Canada can stream every NFL game via DAZN.

MORE: Lions react to first division title in 30 years

Lions vs. Cowboys start time

  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 30
  • Start time: 8:15 p.m. ET (7:15 p.m. CT)

Saturday’s battle between the Lions and Cowboys will kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET, which also serves as the regular start time for “Monday Night Football.” The game will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex.

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