ARLINGTON, Texas - The playoffs are made for big-time players to make big-time plays. Only the Cowboys didn't get one of those sizzling type performances out of the "Big Three."
Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant didn't look like the group that led the Cowboys to an NFC East title, however their presence allowed for Terrance Williams to have the biggest game of his career in Dallas' 24-20 win over the Lions.
Williams not only caught the game-winning score in the fourth quarter, but got the Cowboys going early in the game with a 76-yard touchdown for his team's first points of the game after falling behind 14-0.
"I'm just out there trying my best whenever Tony throws me the ball to just focus in on it," said second-year wide receiver Terrance Williams. "He threw it and it was just one of those things where I have to make a play now and it went my way."
The play was third-and-goal from the Lions' 8 with 2:39 left in the game, Cowboys trailing 20-17. Tony Romo kept a broken play alive and threw a laser into the hands of Williams for the go-ahead touchdown.
"Tony is great. He does a great job of trying his best to hold the ball to extend the plays," Williams said. "Coach Scott (Linehan) always told us, and coach Garrett that if Tony doesn't throw the ball, the play is just now beginning and I really just try my best to try to see where Tony is going and anticipate it."
Anticipating the needs of a scrambling Tony Romo is nothing new for Williams. He converted a third and 20 on the road in Seattle earlier this season in what was the eventual game-winning drive. He was also on the receiving end of a touchdown play that began with Romo eluding a sack by Houston's J.J. Watt. It's a relationship that is working to perfection, Romo and Williams, when things aren't going so perfect.
"It's a credit to him to just keep moving and then all of a sudden find the open spot," Romo said. "Terrance just feels that he is going to run and if Tony stops, I am going to feel him. He is almost a quarterback when he is moving and it is a special quality that he has."
Williams also has the special quality of taking advantage of having Dez Bryant double and triple teamed. Bryant is the lead horse for the wide receivers, however guys like Williams don't mind playing second fiddle.
"I really do try my best to compliment Dez," Williams said. "Whenever Tony and Dez give me the chance to make a play, I will make a play, so whenever he (Romo) sees a 1 on 1 coverage, he's the best in the league at throwing it."
Just because Bryant didn't have those big numbers on this night, he finished with three catches for 48 yards, it doesn't mean the Cowboys are hamstrung and left out to dry when it comes to putting up points.
"That's what's dangerous about this team, the number of weapons that we have," said Travis Frederick. "You can try and shut down one thing, but there's another option, you shut down that option down and then there's another option. It goes deeper and deeper and deeper and that's what's fun about playing with these guys."
The Cowboys offense came into the playoffs firing on all cylinders, scoring over 40 points a game in December, however they faced the toughest front this season. Time and time again, Ndamukong Suh and company were in the back field, putting pressure on Romo, sacking him a season-high six times, plus they stuffed the run for just 73 yards, basically causing all kinds of havoc, but it was Williams that put the wheels in motion on the Cowboys final drive of the first half.
"We had the one big play to Terrance there and it kind of got us going," tight end Jason Witten said.
Things were looking eerily similar to 2009 when the Cowboys were stomped by the Vikings in Minnesota, however Williams 76-yard touchdown was the spark that may have saved the day.
"I'm just out there trying my best whenever Tony is throwing me the ball to just focus in and he threw it and it was just one of those things where I have to make a play now and it went my way."
But not everything went Williams' way. He was flagged for two mistakes in the game, ironically both coming on the play immediately before scoring a touchdown. In the second-quarter he was flagged for offensive pass interference as Romo targeted him in the corner of the end zone. Then he was called for a false start on the Detroit three-yard line. Redemption and resilient, something that's embodied, not only Terrance Williams, but the entire Cowboys team.
"It's just one of those things that I didn't let it get to my mind," Williams said. "I told Tony in the huddle that if you give me a chance, I got him and I'm sorry for doing that."
At the end, there's no need to apologize for a performance that lifted the Cowboys past the Lions and into the divisional round where they'll meet the Green Bay Packers at storied Lambeau Field.