The Green Bay Packers survived an 18-13 Dallas Cowboy rally in the second half to pull out a 34-31 victory. The winning points were provided by Packers kicker MASON CROSBY, who took care of a 51-yard field goal that sailed just inside the bottom portion of the goalposts.
The Packers (11-6) shocked the nation as they weren’t even supposed to win this game. According to the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, the Las Vegas odds placed the Packers as a 5.5 underdog to the Cowboys. Not too many people outside of the Packers locker room thought that the Packers would win this game or jump on the Cowboys like they did in the first half, when they led the Cowboys 21-3.
It’s games like this that let people know once gain that AARON RODGERS (28 of 34 for 356 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception) is NOTHING to play to with when it comes to comeback or game-winning drives. On the Packers’ last two offensive drives of the game his arm and his decision making enabled the Packers to get two successful and game-deciding field goals from Crosby.
The Cowboys, led by quarterback DAK PRESCOTT, inside linebacker SEAN LEE (8 tackles), and running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT tried their best to mount a comeback and help send the Cowboys to their first NFC Championship game since 1995. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Prescott finished the evening 24 of 38 for 302 yards, 3 touchdown passes and 1 pick. Elliott gained 125 yards on 22 carries, but the Packers defense kept him out of the end zone. Lee seemed to be everywhere in this game, as today he again proved that his 2016 first-team All-Pro defensive honor was well deserved.
The Packers took their first lead of the game, when Rodgers found tight end RICHARD RODGERS behind Lee and the rest of the Dallas defense for a 34-yard scoring play. At the 8:58 mark of the first quarter Green Bay took a 7-3 lead.
The Packers added to their lead when running back TY MONTGOMERY followed center COREY LINSLEY into the end zone from 3-yards out. At the 14:13 mark of the second quarter Green Bay extended their lead to 14-3.
Montgomery added to his touchdown total later in the second quarter, when he followed another helpful block from a teammate—- this time it was AARON RIPKOWSKI—-for a 1-yard scoring run. At the 7:38 mark of the second period the Packers saw their lead climb to a commanding (at that point) 21-3 lead.
But not too long after that Montgomery scoring run, the Cowboys finally got a touchdown of their own. Dallas receiver DEZ BRYANT (9 catches for 132 yards and 2 scores) has been with the Cowboys since the 2010 season when he was taken with the 24th pick of the first round of the draft that year. But today’s game represented the first occasion where he has caught a touchdown pass in a playoff game.
Bryant’s touchdown catch took place late in the second quarter, when he beat Packers cornerback LADARIUS GUNTER for a 40-yard touchdown catch down the left sideline. That score cut Green Bay’s lead to 21-10 at the 6:03 mark of the second quarter.
Packers tight end JARED COOK (6 catches for 104 yards and 1 score) ditched his man off the line and then he got behind the entire Dallas defense for a back corner touchdown catch of 3 yards. That scoring play gave the Packers a 28-13 lead at the 11:25 mark of the third quarter.
The Cowboys finally answered the Packers (albeit early in the fourth quarter) when Prescott zoomed a pass to a slightly open JASON WITTEN (6 catches for 59 yards and 1 score) who caught the pass in-stride and in the end zone. Witten’s 6-yard touchdown catch cut the Packers lead to 28-20 at the 11:39 mark of the fourth period.
An interesting note is that Witten has been with the Cowboys since the 2003 season. And in his 14-years of service, the Cowboys have been to the playoffs six times in those 14 seasons. And today was the first game in which he caught a scoring pass in the playoffs as a member of the Cowboys.
Bryant scored the second touchdown of his playoff career, when he accepted a Prescott pass and then Bryant dove into the end zone. That 7-yard score and Prescott’s 2-point conversion run tied the game at 28-28 at the 4:08 mark of the fourth quarter.
Late in the fourth quarter and at the end of both of their respective teams’ offensive drives, Crosby and Dallas kicker DAN BAILEY connected on 56 and 52-yard field goals respectively to put the score at 31-31 and at the 35-second mark of the quarter.
A huge and contested Cook catch that took the tight end out of bounds at the DAL 32-yard line set up the Pack for a game-winning field goal. Cook’s catch set up a successful 51-yard field goal by Crosby which sent the Packers to their first NFC Championship game since the 2014 season. The final score was 34-31.
More stories you might like