Detroit’s star receiver Calvin Johnson almost broke the all-time record for reception yardage — his incredible contribution of 329 yards driving the Lions to a thrilling 31-30 victory.
In the dying moments of an incredible game, his quarterback, Matthew Stafford, led a brave late drive as far as the Dallas one-yard line at which point Stafford caught the Cowboys defence off guard by leaping in for his own touchdown instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock at 12 seconds to go.
“I was yelling that I was going to spike the ball,” Stafford explained afterwards. “But their linebackers were just standing there.”
On a day so typical of the self-destructive Cowboys, their own star wide receiver, Dez Bryant, embarked on a much publicised sideline meltdown against his quarterback Tony Romo after a missed pass, drawing the ire of other senior players.
“My passion is always positive,” claimed Bryant after the game. “It’s always positive. It’s going to remain the same way. I’m not saying anything wrong. I’m not saying anything bad. It’s all positive. That’s just what it is.”
With the New York Giants winning 15-7 at the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins losing 45-21 at the home of the AFC’s Denver Broncos, the NFC East Division is now as wide open as it is weak.
The NFC form teams all enjoyed success, with the New Orleans Saints looking impressive in spite of some routine errors as Drew Brees threw for five touchdown passes in a 35-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
“It’s good when you can not play your best and make certain mistakes and still win,” Brees said. “If we continue to repeat these mistakes they will get us beat. That’s not good enough for us.”
Aaron Rodgers was in flying form too, leading the Green Bay Packers to a 44-31 victory over divisional rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, in the late game on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, in London, the San Francisco 49ers’ quietly-building NFC West campaign carried on as expected, their fifth straight victory coming at the expense of the NFL’s worst team, the winless Jacksonville Jaguars succumbing 42-10.
The Kansas City Chiefs remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL after they laboured to a 23-17 win over the Cleveland Browns while the New England Patriots overcame a lacklustre first-half performance against the Miami Dolphins to win 27-17 and stay in control of the AFC East.
There was a comprehensive win in Cincinnati for the AFC North-leading Bengals, for whom young wide receiver Marvin Jones was in flying form, catching four of quarterback Andy Dalton’s five touchdown passes as the New York Jets were brought crashing back down to earth, losing 49-9.
Elsewhere, there were wins for the Oakland Raiders, the Arizona Cardinals and, on Thursday night, the Carolina Panthers while the NFC’s best team, the Seattle Seahawks, were in action late last night against the St Louis Rams.