DETROIT Calvin Johnson thought Matthew Stafford was going to spike the ball for at least another snap.
The Dallas Cowboys did, too.
Stafford's 1-yard lunge over a pile of linemen with 12 seconds left and Johnson's 329 receiving yards lifted the Detroit Lions to a 31-30 win over Dallas on Sunday.
"I was yelling that I was going to spike the ball," Stafford recalled. "But their linebackers were just standing there."
The Cowboys weren't just standing around letting Johnson make catch after catch, but he made them look helpless.
Johnson almost set an NFL record and could celebrate the feat because of a comeback from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit that some people who entered Ford Field didn't see because they had left.
"Even our fans didn't think we could pull this one out," Johnson said. "They were leaving, but we knew we could do it."
Johnson's total trails only the 336 yards Flipper Anderson had for the Los Angeles Rams against New Orleans on Nov. 26, 1989 in an overtime game. Anderson had 296 yards in regulation.
The Cowboys dared Detroit to throw to Johnson with a lot of one-on-one coverage. They usually asked cornerback Brandon Carr to do the improbable by defending him alone.
"He had his way," Carr said. "And, we couldn't find a way to keep him from rolling."
On the Lions' last drive, Stafford threw a 22-yard pass to Johnson to set up the winning score. The quarterback surprised at least some Cowboys, who appeared to expect him to spike the ball to stop the clock.
"He kind of caught us off-guard," defensive tackle Jason Hatcher acknowledged.
Dallas (4-4) seemed to set itself up to build upon its NFC East lead when Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant for a touchdown with 6:45 left to take 27-17 lead.
The Lions scored a touchdown with 3:33 left, and then the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal with 1:02 left after Tyron Smith was flagged for holding on third down, a mistake that stopped the clock even though Detroit declined the penalty.
"If we don't get called for a penalty, I think they probably had 20 seconds or so left," Romo said.
Instead, they had a minute. With no timeouts, the Lions (5-3) went from their 20 to the Cowboys' end zone thanks in large part a 40-yard connection with Kris Durham and Johnson's 14th reception that gave them the ball at the Dallas 1.
Instead of spiking the ball, Stafford took the snap and leaped with his arms extended to beat the team he rooted for growing up.
"I was just as fooled as the defense was," Lions guard Larry Warford said.
The NFL's top five individual receiving yardage games:
336: Flipper Anderson, L.A. Rams at New Orleans (OT), Nov. 26, 1989 (15 receptions).
329: Calvin Johnson, left, Detroit vs. Dallas, Oct. 27, 2013 (14).
309: Stephone Paige, Kansas City vs. San Diego, Dec. 22, 1985 (8).
303: Jim Benton, Cleveland at Detroit, Nov. 22, 1945 (10).
302: Cloyce Box, Detroit at Baltimore, Dec. 3, 1950 (12).
The Associated Press