DETROIT -- All Barry Church could do was watch as the Cowboys blew a 10-point lead in the final six minutes.
A strained right hamstring sidelined Church down the stretch of Sunday’s 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions, leaving the Cowboys a couple of undrafted rookies as their safeties. The Lions ripped off a pair of 80-yard touchdown drives to steal the win and send the Cowboys home with a 4-4 record.
“It was one of the worst experiences,” said Church, who forced a fumble in the first half. “I was just feeling helpless as they drove down the field twice. It was a helpless feeling. I’ve got to get back there next week.”
Jeff Heath was already starting in place of third-round pick J.J. Wilcox, who suffered a sprained knee during Thursday’s practice. Jakar Hamilton, who was called up from the practice squad Saturday, had to step in when Church got hurt.
Hamilton was part of the coverage on the Lions’ two biggest plays on their last drive. He was a little late on Kris Durham’s 40-yard catch down the left sideline. Hamilton delivered a big hit on Calvin Johnson just after the ball arrived on a seam route, but Johnson held on for a 22-yard gain to set up Matthew Stafford’s game-winning quarterback sneak.
Could Church have made a difference? Maybe, but “Megatron” did a lot of damage with him in the game, too, including an 87-yard gain on a slant in which Church missed the tackle because he underestimated Johnson’s speed and took a bad angle.
“He’s a freak of nature,” Church said, “but we’ve got to play better.”