IRVING, Texas (AP) – Forget the playbook, it was the rule book that helped the Dallas Cowboys easily beat the Detroit Lions.

Taking advantage of 17 penalties for 129 yards against the Lions, the Cowboys got two short touchdown runs from Marion Barber III and Billy Cundiff kicked a franchise-record 56-yard field goal a day after rejoining the club for a 20-7 victory.

Barber’s first touchdown came on the opening drive, and Dallas (7-3) led the rest of the way for its third straight win and fifth in six games. Coming off a wild win Monday night in Philadelphia and with another game ahead on Thursday, the Cowboys were happy to have a rare breather – only their third game all season not decided in the final minutes.

The Lions (4-6) were hoping to break even going into their own Thanksgiving game, but never game themselves a chance. Joey Harrington started at quarterback, yet the flags were far more detrimental than anything he did wrong.

Detroit was penalized six times in each of the first two quarters, then five times in the third, seemingly taking aim at the league record of 22. The Lions avoided any in the final period, but it was still the most ever against Dallas.

Penalties turned failed third downs into first downs on all four Cowboys scoring drives. Detroit gave Dallas a total of nine first downs by penalty, while its offense gained only 11. Through three quarters, the Lions had gained only 25 more yards than they’d set themselves back.

Detroit officials could not immediately determine how the numbers ranked in franchise history. They never had reason to look it up this season, as the Lions’ sloppiest games had been 11 flags and 75 yards. They’d only given up 12 first downs by penalty over all nine games.

The tone was set when safety Jon McGraw was called for illegal contact on a third-and-11 incompletion at the Detroit 21. Instead of kicking a field goal on fourth down, the Cowboys had a first down on the 16 and Barber scored two plays later.

Before Detroit’s first offensive snap, lineman Damien Woody was called for a false start. The drive ended up featuring an offensive pass interference call on Roy Williams that wiped out a 40-yard touchdown catch and ended with a third-down holding penalty that knocked the Lions out of field-goal range.

Drew Bledsoe was 12-for-23 for 110 yards. Julius Jones returned to the starting lineup and ran for a season-best 92 yards, although he lost a fumble and was stuffed three times from the 1 on one drive. Barber gained 53 yards on 15 carries.

Cundiff was released in August and given an injury settlement after hurting a leg late in training camp. Re-signed Saturday, he made a 19-yarder after Jones’ failure to reach the end zone, then made the record kick with seconds left in the second quarter.

Harrington was 17-of-25 for 169 yards, with Williams catching five passes for 72 yards, but never the game-breaker the Lions needed. Kevin Jones scored Detroit’s only touchdown, but had only 29 yards on 12 carries.

Woody had another false start before a third-quarter drive, but that only makes him a fringe candidate for the distinction for kookiest penalty.

Others: Consecutive flags for defensive offside and the very similar call of neutral zone infraction; consecutive defensive offsides in the last 30 seconds of the half; and 12 men on the field to face a third-and-1 for Dallas.

AP-ES-11-20-05 1632EST


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