Green Bay Finds Way, Beats Dallas: Five Things We Learned
Finally, Dallas lost a game on the road. Unfortunately, it came at the worst possible time as Aaron Rodgers shed a nagging leg injury and the Green Bay Packers moved on to the NFC Championship game with a 26-21 win.
The Packers will travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks for a right to go to Arizona on Feb. 1.
Before the game, I picked the Cowboys, who went through the regular season winning all their games on the road, because of Rodgers’ injury. The potential MVP of the NFL proved to me and everyone else he can work magic even if he is not at full speed.
But the win did not come without controversy. The Packers (13-4), helped immensely by a video reversal with 4:06 remaining, went undefeated at Lambeau Field this season. They head to Seattle for the NFC title game. The Seahawks (13-4) beat Green Bay in the season opener 36-16. Seattle opens as a 7-point favorite in the game.
Here are five things we learned about Sunday’s game at Lambeau.
TWO HOBBLING PASSERS
According to ESPN.com, this was the Cowboys' first postseason trip to Green Bay since the 1967 Ice Bowl for the NFL championship resulted in their first road defeat of the season after eight victories. Dallas got 123 yards rushing from league leader DeMarco Murray and a courageous effort from Tony Romo, who hurt his left leg in the third quarter.
That meant there were two hobbling quarterbacks. All-Pro Rodgers, bothered by a left calf he injured in Game 15, lost much of his trademark elusiveness as the game wore on. But he was on-target for a short pass to Davante Adams that turned into the 41-yard score to make it 21-20. Then he sharply guided the Packers 80 yards to the winning points, a 13-yard bullet to backup tight end Richard Rodgers in the back of the end zone.
STARTING OUT STRONG
The Cowboys blitz had early success against Aaron Rodgers, holding him to 2-of-5 passing in the 1st half and generating 3 pressures. Despite the success, the Cowboys blitzed just twice in the 2nd half as Rodgers went 14-of-18 with 2 TD against the Cowboys standard rush.
The pressure on Rodgers was more evident in the first half as the offensive line tightened up in the second half.
The Cowboys blew an 8+ point lead in 2nd half for the 1st time this season. The Packers have the last 2 wins against Cowboys when coming back from 8+ point deficit in 2nd half (2013, Week 15).
Aaron Rodgers completed his last 10 pass attempts Sunday for 163 yards and 2 TD. Rodgers was 15-of-20 overall in the 2nd half.
RUN, RUN AWAY
While both quarterbacks were hobbled, it was the running game for both Dallas and Green Bay that were the catalysts for the day.
DeMarco Murray moved the chains through the defensive line. The NFL’s leading rusher had 123 yards on the day. Not to be outdone, Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy had 101 yards on 19 carries for the game.
JASON GARRETT – FREE AGENT
Players are not the only ones who become free agents when their contracts expire. The loss ended Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett’s time in Dallas – for now. Owner Jerry Jones recently said he intends to keep Garrett. But other owners can now pursue him.
In 2008, Garrett rebuffed the advances of the Falcons and Ravens, choosing an offensive coordinator position in Dallas along with the chance to eventually become the head coach. Now that he’s done it for four full seasons and half of 2010 on an interim basis, Garrett has the chance to look around.