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Packers vs. Cowboys: Quick Takes from Green Bay’s 26-21 Win

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Packers vs. Cowboys: Quick Takes from Green Bay’s 26-21 Win

The Green Bay Packers (13-4) edged past the Dallas Cowboys (13-5) Sunday at a seasonally warm Lambeau Field, advancing to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since Jan. 2011 and setting up a rematch with the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday. 


It was over when…

…Aaron Rodgers’ deflected pass on 3rd-and-12 landed in the arms of Randall Cobb, an incredible sequence giving the Packers a first down with under two minutes left and the Cowboys possessing no timeouts.  


Game Balls

  • Aaron Rodgers: What Rodgers pulled off Sunday will someday be recognized as one of his finest postseason moments. The man couldn’t even run up to the line scrimmage, much less escape mayhem or outrun a defender. He was essentially a one-legged quarterback, constrained to the pocket and unable to make his trademark plays outside the framework of an original play because of two tears in his left calf. Yet he still managed to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions (but a lost fumble) and a passer rating of 125.1. The Cowboys didn’t have an answer for him in the second half, when Rodgers played one of the best 30 minutes of injured football the quarterback position has ever seen. He proved one more truth Sunday: Rodgers at 50 percent is still better than 90 percent of the league’s quarterbacks at 100. 
  • Julius Peppers: Think Peppers wants to get back to the Super Bowl? The veteran took down Tony Romo for an early third-down sack, drew a holding penalty setting the edge and stripped DeMarco Murray on what could have been a huge run. It was the only turnover forced by the Packers and potentially a 10-point swing—stopping Murray from busting a touchdown run and setting up a Packers field goal. After the takeaway, Green Bay went on a 13-7 run to close out the game. Peppers earned his $9 million. 
  • Andrew Quarless: The Packers season is probably over if Quarless doesn’t bail out Randall Cobb on the kickoff following Murray’s 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He recovered Cobb’s fumble and avoided certain disaster. If he hadn’t, the Cowboys were looking at taking over possession at the Green Bay 23-yard line up eight points. Another score and the game might be put on ice. Instead, the Packers marched down the field and scored seven points. Game saver.  


Stat of the Game 

117: The number of receiving yards from both Cobb and rookie Davante Adams. Cobb was once again a nightmare over the middle of the field, while Adams smashed through the rookie wall and made big play after big play. In a game where Jordy Nelson made two catches for just 22 yards, the Packers still threw for over 300 and scored 26 points. The question now is if Adams can finally be the No. 3 target the Packers need to beat the Seahawks in Seattle. 


Other Notes

-- I typically hate comparing Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. They are each their own quarterback, worthy of admiration for differing but wildly successful modus operandi. But it was difficult not to think of Favre when Rodgers flicked a little shovel pass for a first down and when he gingerly rolled to his left, set his shoulders and fired an absolute laser beam to tight end Richard Rodgers for the game-winning touchdown. The ability to ward off injury, combined with the guts to make the throw and the arm to fit the football in between two defenders was so Favrian that only Rodgers could pull it off. I could have swore it was Chmura on the end of the catch, too. The shovel pass was vintage Favre. Rodgers didn’t sit behind the man for three years and soak up nothing. A little bit of Favre spice to Rodgers’ second half made the difference. 

-- The three players who scored touchdowns for the Packers Sunday: Andrew Quarless, Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers. Quarless has been steady, but the Packers are a different offense when Adams and Rodgers make plays. Adams is especially critical—he gives the opposing defense a legitimate No. 3 option to worry about when he’s on. His run-after-the-catch ability is a huge asset, as evidenced on his scoring play and the third down conversion late in the fourth quarter. The touchdown was a huge spark for an otherwise flat offense, and his clutch catch late set up Cobb’s final dagger. Maybe he finally tore down that rookie wall he's been battling. 

-- The Packers avoided any major special teams mistakes. The Cowboys did not. Dan Bailey's miss late in the first half set up a six-point swing in a game that ended in a five-point margin. 

-- The call benefitted the Packers, but it’s a shame this game will be remembered mostly for Dez Bryant’s no catch. It was unquestionably the right call. But the rule is still vague and silly, and the changing of catch to incomplete felt like an insult to our common senses. The reversal robbed viewers of an incredible finish. But again, the officials got it right—even if the rule probably needs some work. 

-- The Packers were a mixed bag against Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray. Both were given a bunch of easy yards and looks. Romo finished with two touchdowns, just four incompletions and a passer rating of 143.6, but he also took a beating—especially in the second half. Murray rushed for 126 yards, including two runs over 25 yards, but he needed 25 carries. Covering the middle of the field and tackling were (again) issues. Giving up just 21 points to the Cowboys offense is no small feat, but you’d have to think the Packers will need to be much better defensively to get out of Seattle with a win. 

-- Speaking of Seattle, the worry this week will undoubtedly be focused on Rodgers’ limited mobility vs. the fast, aggressive Seahawks defense. It’s one thing to block up the Cowboys and keep Rodgers mostly clean at home. It’s going to be a whole different story staying in front of the Seahawks in Seattle. Then again, Rodgers didn’t have much luck when he broke the pocket and extended plays back in Week 1. His looming test against the Seahawks will probably be the stiffest of his career. Win on one leg in Seattle and Rodgers will cement his place as a football deity. 

-- A rematch of the NFL’s season opener will determine which franchise represents the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX. Most rightfully predicted the Packers and Seahawks as the two best teams in the conference. It took four months and 17 games, but the title game the NFC deserved is now full realized and just a week away.  


Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. He is also the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected]. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Norm's picture

QB rating of 143.6 and leading rusher goes for 126 is almost always a recipe for victory unless you have a bunch of turnovers, which Dallas did not (although that Murray fumble caused by Peppers was as important as the Matthews forced fumble against the Steelers in the Super Bowl). Glad to have gotten the victory but will need to play better to beat Seattle in Seattle.

jyros's picture

Phew! What nail biter. Clutch plays by Quarless, Cobbs and Adams.

Brad Jones though.... yeesh! What's happened to him?
Stupid penalty to keep the ball w/ Cowboys and then throws his block into Cobb on punt return to cause fumble. He's become a liability.

4thand1's picture

It was an obvious holding call on Jones. But Murry was going to turn and be wide open on the play. He would have gotten a lot more than 5 yards.

TommyG's picture

If it had anybody but jones we wouldn't even be talking about it. He's been on our radar for sometime and we are seeing all bad right now. Still, it was a mistake, and mistakes against Seattle will doom us.

Idiot Fan's picture

Great summary Zach.

I hope all week the national media keeps saying how the Packers have no chance with a gimpy Rodgers against Seattle. Give a little extra fire in the belly for the team.

TommyG's picture

I'm up in Seahawks land until Friday. The amount of arrogance is disgusting. Listening to fans and media would have you thinking that the hawks score 50 a game and have only allowed one field goal all season. Of course ask most of those fans who their QB was in 2006 and they can't tell you.

phillythedane's picture

The 'catch rule' is entirely sensible. Maintain control all the way to the ground and beyond.

If that was not the rule, then we'd have endless arguments and replays about whether the receiver had control of the ball before it hit the ground.

It's not rocket science.

BubbaOne's picture

Thank God no more Christie Chris photo ops.

Amanofthenorth's picture

And a shout out for special teams????

Blocked kick and made kicks and that clutch six point swing at the end of the first half.

HankScorpio's picture

It's hard to argue against Rodgers getting the game ball on offense. He was obviously very limited by the calf injuries but the Dallas defense could do nothing to stop him once he got hot in the 3rd quarter. He added to his "4th quarter comeback" total and further put that ridiculous nonsense to bed. Had the defense allowed Dallas to re-take the lead, I have no doubt he would have done it again.

But Davante Adams made one heck of a case for himself, too. A ton of his yardage was post-catch and his last one could have easily been a turnover if not for him out-fighting the DB for the ball. That's what great WRs do. Just a great game from Adams.

egbertsouse's picture

Hey Cowboys, karma's a bitch, ain't it.

When I found out Chris Christie was going to be there, I bought stock in Johnsonville. I figure the dude could eat 200-300 himself.

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