DETROIT -- No one knew what Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was doing on the team's final offensive play Sunday. No one could stop Calvin Johnson before that last snap, which Stafford took over the top of an unsuspecting Dallas Cowboys' defensive line to cap a stunning 31-30 victory at Ford Field on Sunday.
Stafford scored on a 1-yard keeper with 12 seconds remaining and Johnson had 329 receiving yards, second-most in NFL history, as the Detroit Lions edged the Dallas Cowboys 31-30 at Ford Field.
The Lions drove 80 yards in six plays, using up just 50 seconds, as Stafford knifed through the prevent defense of the Cowboys to Detroit's winning score.
Stafford surprised everyone, including his teammates, by extending his arms over the pile instead of spiking the ball after Johnson came up just shy of scoring on a 22-yard completion. He saw the Dallas defenders ease up and decided to go for the touchdown at that moment.
"It was just in my head," said Stafford, who passed for 488 yards and a score, though he was picked off twice. "I told everybody I was spiking it. I was screaming 'Clock!' I was going to spike it. It was just a feel thing, just trying to help my team win. I'm sure glad I got across."
Johnson, who just missed Flipper Anderson's NFL single-game record of 336 receiving yards set in 1989, was certainly caught off guard.
"I was happy he did it," he said. "I didn't know he was going to do it but it was a great move by him."
Johnson constantly put the moves on the Cowboys secondary, catching 14 passes and a touchdown for the Lions (5-3), who entered the day a half-game behind Green Bay in NFC North. Johnson also tied Lance Alworth's NFL record with his fifth career 200-yard receiving game. He was twice stopped at the 1-yard line.
"It's crazy," Johnson said of his near record. "Shoot, we got one-on-one coverage and we were able to hit on a lot of them. I don't know what the percentages were but we were able to hit a lot of deep passes, intermediate, all over the place."
The Lions overcame four turnovers in Dallas territory, including three in the red zone.
Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes, including scoring strikes of 60 yards to Terrance Williams and 50 yards to Dez Bryant. Sean Lee made two interceptions for the Cowboys (4-4), who lead the NFC East.
"Very tough game to lose that way," Romo said. "It's hard to win in this league, it's hard to win in general, it's hard to win on the road, especially against a good football team. We had our chances today and just didn't get it done."
Bryant scored twice but threw a temper tantrum on the sidelines after the Cowboys had to settle for a third-quarter field goal.
"He's a competitive guy," Romo said. "He's never complained to me about getting the ball. He knows the ball is going where it's supposed to. When you guys see the emotions with Dez, it's more rah-rah than being a 'me' guy. I think it would be completely out of character for him if it were ever a 'me' situation. He's never a self-first guy."
Dan Bailey made a 44-yard field goal with 1:02 left to give Dallas a six-point advantage.
But after a touchback, the Lions soon reached the Dallas 23 with 33 seconds left on a 40-yard pass from Stafford to Kris Durham that split the cornerback and safety perfectly. Stafford's 22-yard pass to Johnson followed and Stafford then made his surprise decision to score on the next play.
"People were leaving the stadium," Johnson said. "Nobody thought we could pull it off in a minute but we've got some firepower."
Williams gave the Cowboys a 20-10 lead when he gathered in a short pass from Romo, slipped away from rookie cornerback Darius Slay at midfield, then eluded Glover Quin's tackle try at the 8 on his 60-yard score with 11:32 left.
Joique Bell's 1-yard scoring plunge cut the Detroit deficit to 20-17 with 7:38 left. The Cowboys quickly responded when Romo found Bryant along the left sideline. Bryant spun away from two defensive backs near the 20 and raced into the end zone to restore Dallas's double-digit lead.
A 54-yard catch by Johnson set up Reggie Bush's 1-yard scoring run with 3:33 left, cutting the Cowboys' lead to 27-24. Detroit got the ball back with 2:24 lead but couldn't pick up a first down. When the Lions got another opportunity, they didn't come up short.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz spiked his headset in euphoria as the final seconds ran off the clock. Schwartz said the Lions were the second team in NFL history to win a game with a minus-four turnover margin.
NOTES: Cowboys star DE DeMarcus Ware missed his second straight game with a thigh injury. He had a streak of 134 consecutive starts snapped the previous week. Starting RB DeMarco Murray (knee) and WR Miles Austin (hamstring) were also inactive. … Stafford surpassed the 15,000-yard mark in his 53rd career game, reaching that passing milestone quicker than any player in NFL history. Dan Marino, Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger hit 15,000 yards in their 56th career games. … Johnson has three career receptions of 85 or more yards.a Lions record. … The Cowboys led the regular-season series 12-10. ... Anderson had his record receiving day for the Los Angeles Rams against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 26, 1989.