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Why did Lions abandon Zach Zenner in second half?

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For as innovative as the Lions offense has been this season, many are wondering if they simply turned away from the running game too soon in Monday night's 42-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Lions running back Zach Zenner had 10 carries for 64 yards (long of 20) and two touchdowns in the first half. The Lions went into the break tied with the Cowboys, 21-21. In a rare display, they edged Dallas in time of possession by half a minute.

At the final whistle, Zenner had 12 carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Dwayne Washington got six more carries and logged 22 yards.

"Things change," head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters after the game. "Things change in terms of what we're looking at. We have an offense that adjusts to what we see and sometimes it's a little bit more pass than run."

I don't think anyone was asking Caldwell or offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter to end the nearly three-year streak of Lions games without a 100-yard rusher. That's simply not their game. But there are obvious advantages to keeping a devastatingly potent Cowboys offense off the field, especially when they are converting half of their third downs and averaging 5.5 yards per rushing play (Detroit, by the way, was at 4.5 for the game).

Monday night's game illustrated how effective Dallas' scheme can be. Against a seasoned quarterback and very good offensive coordinator, they still lured Detroit into the same trap that has been flummoxing opponents all year long. How long do you wait until you hit the panic button? And when you do, is there even a chance you can hang around?

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