The Dallas Cowboys continue to play close games, and contend for the division title in a tight NFC East.
The Cowboys hope to take sole possession of first place as they go for a season-high third straight win in a matchup with the Detroit Lions.
Dallas is tied with the New York Giants atop the division after a win in its sixth game of the season decided by three points or less.
Dallas scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes to stun the Philadelphia Eagles 21-20 on Monday night.
Drew Bledsoe hit Terry Glenn, held without a catch until then, on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 3:04 left to get Dallas to within 20-14. On the second play after the ensuing kickoff, Roy Williams intercepted Donovan McNabb and returned it 46 yards for the winning score.
“It’s an exciting brand of football, but I’d like for them to be a little less stressful,” Bledsoe said. “I’d like for us to play better earlier in the game.”
The game was the first of three in an 11-day stretch for the Cowboys. Their next two games are at home, against Detroit on Sunday and Denver on Thanksgiving Day.
The teams left on Dallas’ schedule have a combined record of 38-25, with only Detroit and St. Louis under .500, both at 4-5.
Cowboys running back Julius Jones returned Monday after missing three games with a sprained ankle, but was held to 16 yards on eight carries. Rookie Marion Barber, who played well while Jones was out, had 46 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries. Barber rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns in his previous game, a 34-13 win over Arizona on Oct. 30.
Banged-up Jeff Garcia is still the starting quarterback of the Lions, but that doesn’t mean he will play Sunday. Coach Steve Mariucci said Garcia will remain the starter even after Joey Harrington’s three-touchdown performance in last week’s 29-21 victory over Arizona, but Garcia could miss a third straight game this week due to injury.
“We named Jeff our starter a few weeks ago, and since then, I haven’t changed my mind,” Mariucci said. “Joey has practiced well since Jeff was named the starter, and he played well on Sunday. But we need to see if Jeff freshens up this week or not.”
Garcia missed the first five games after breaking his leg in the final exhibition game. He started twice—winning in Cleveland and losing to Chicago — but has missed the last two with soreness in the leg.
He didn’t seem optimistic Monday about playing this week.
“I don’t feel any different,” he said. “I haven’t really seen myself make the kind of progress that I want. It has been discouraging.”
Mariucci, though, hopes to have Garcia on the field against the Cowboys.
“He’s getting close,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Harrington insists that he’s not frustrated that his strong showing didn’t regain him the starting spot.
“My situation hasn’t changed,” he said. “If the coach tells me that Jeff is starting, I’ll be ready to him back him up, and if not, I’ll be ready to start. That’s my job right now, because Jeff is our starting quarterback.”
Playing an entire game for the first time since Oct. 2, Roy Williams had seven receptions for 117 yards and caught all three of Harrington’s scoring passes for 7, 21 and 29 yards. The last Lion to catch three touchdowns in a game was Herman Moore in 1995.
Mariucci gave leading rusher Kevin Jones only 14 carries against the Cardinals because he wants to rotate all three of his tailbacks.
“Kevin is a terrific back, but for me to get him more carries, I have to take time away from one of our other backs,” he said. “I don’t feel compelled to get Toose (Artose Pinner) off the field, and Shawn Bryson has been terrific.”