Lions lose No. 1 pick

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IRVING, Texas (AP) – So much for working out the kinks before the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys are headed into “the tournament” at their worst.

They couldn’t even beat Detroit on a day when the Lions could’ve lost and locked up the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Done in by repeated mistakes from Tony Romo and a few more by Terence Newman, the Cowboys blew their last chance to win the NFC East with a 39-31 loss to the Lions on Sunday.

Roy Williams caught a pair of touchdown passes, Mike Furrey and Mike Williams each caught one and Jason Hanson kicked four field goals, helping Detroit (3-13) score its most points of the season and win a game the franchise might’ve been better off losing. Now Oakland gets the top overall pick and the Lions will go second.

Furrey punctuated his score by firing the football into a plastic Cowboys logo behind the end zone, knocking it off the wall and putting a crack in it.

How symbolic.

Despite owning the top wild card, Dallas (9-7) goes into January having lost consecutive games for the first time all season. The Cowboys also have dropped three of four since owning a two-game division lead in early December. And the loss gave Philadelphia the NFC East title before the Eagles’ game against Atlanta had started.

All three losses were at home, guaranteeing no playoff games at Texas Stadium. Dallas will open the playoffs – which coach Bill Parcells likes to call “the tournament” – at Seattle next weekend.

Another common denominator in the losses: poor performances by Romo.

This time, the backup-turned-Pro Bowler threw an interception, lost two fumbles and dropped two other balls, including one in his own end zone. Although he recovered from that one to throw a 56-yard touchdown to Terrell Owens that put Dallas ahead 31-30 with 8:09 left, he wasn’t as lucky on the next drive, after Detroit had gone back ahead on Mike Williams’ TD.

Romo lost a fumble that led to Hanson’s final field goal and the Lions padded their lead. Romo got the Cowboys inside the 10, but tried running on fourth-and-goal from the 7 and was stopped with 9 seconds left.

That, too, was fitting for Dallas in one of its most bizarre performances in four seasons under Parcells.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am,” Parcells said. “I really can’t. … This is the low point for me in a long time.”

It started on the game’s first play, when a penalty on Newman wiped out an interception for a touchdown by safety Roy Williams. After also giving up two long punt returns, the Cowboys were down 13-0 and hearing loud boos before the first quarter was over.

They rallied for a 14-13 lead, then Newman muffed a punt and Detroit’s Roy Williams scored a touchdown just before halftime to put the Lions back ahead.

Dallas opened the second half with a long flea-flicker to the 8, but Romo was stripped from behind two plays later. It ended up not hurting too badly because Newman returned a punt for a touchdown and the lead.

But the Lions wouldn’t quit. A long drive that included a fourth-down conversion led to a field goal, then an interception set up Furrey’s score.

Kitna was 28-of-42 for 306 yards and four TDs, with one interception. He set the club record for completions in a season and joined Scott Mitchell as the only Lions quarterbacks to throw for 4,000 yards in a season.

Roy Williams caught six passes for 104 yards for Detroit and Furrey had 11 for 102.

Romo was 23-of-32 for 321 yards with two touchdowns. Owens caught six passes for 117 yards and Terry Glenn had six for 109.

AP-ES-12-31-06 1720EST

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