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Has there ever been a bigger Dallas Cowboys nemesis than Aaron Rodgers?
Once again, the Green Bay Packers quarterback proved the villain in leading his team to a come-from-behind, 31-28, overtime victory over the Cowboys, in the process ruining head coach Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay homecoming.
After attempting only six passes in the entire first half, completing four, Rodgers went 10 for 16 over the rest of the game for a total of 224 yards overall, three touchdowns and a 146.7 passer rating. Behind his effort, the Packers scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to tie the game and then secured the outcome with a field goal in the extra frame to get the win.
Of course, the real damage was done on the ground by the Packers. Once again, the Dallas defense struggled to stop an opponent’s running game as Green Bay churned out 207 rushing yards, including 138 and a score by Aaron Jones.
On offense, Dak Prescott had an up and down day, his two interceptions leading to a pair of Packers touchdowns, although his receivers did him no favors on either miscue. He dropped back 48 times on the day – compared to the team running the ball on 31 snaps – and completed just 58.7 percent of his passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, a 78.6 rating.
Prescott’s primary target on the afternoon was CeeDee Lamb, who posted a career-high 150 receiving yards – the first time a Dallas pass-catcher has topped the century mark this season – while also tying his personal best with two touchdown catches.
When Dallas did run the ball, they were largely successful, finishing with 5.1 yards per carry average and totaling 159 rushing yards in total. With Ezekiel Elliott again sidelined due to injury, Tony Pollard carried the ball a career-high 22 times for 115 rushing yards.
The Packers turned to their ground game early and often, running the ball on 12 of their first 16 plays for 61 yards. But while they racked up the time of possession, holding onto the ball for more than 10 minutes in the first quarter, Green Bay couldn’t come away with any points for its effort.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys only managed three-and-outs on each of their first two series, Prescott completing just three of his first seven passes.
However, all three of those first-quarter connections for the Dallas quarterback came on the team’s third possession of the game, as the offense started to find a rhythm. And the Cowboys would keep the drive going as the clocked ticked over into the second frame.
In fact, they kept the momentum going all the way to the end zone with an impressive 17-play, 83-yard effort that ate up 8:21 off the clock. Prescott completed all 10 of his pass attempts during the series for 58 yards, connecting with Lamb five times for 40 of those yards. Lamb also got the scoring honors with a lunge across the goal line for the 3-yard touchdown and an early lead.
The Cowboys were on the doorstep just minutes later, though, when on the third snap of the Packers’ next possession, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence strip-sacked Rodgers. That left it to safety Jayron Kearse to fall on the prize and give Dallas the ball at the Green Bay 10-yard line. The forced fumble was the 18th of Lawrence’s career, moving him into third all-time in franchise history.
But then Prescott returned the favor. On third down, he threw into a crowded middle of the end zone, his pass picked off by Packers safety Rudy Ford, who returned the interception out to the Green Bay 33-yard line.
Unfortunately, the Packers took advantage of their gift. Facing a third-and-1 at his own 42-yard line, Rodgers found Christian Watson streaking down the right sideline, the wideout outracing Dallas cornerback Anthony Brown for a 58-yard touchdown to tie the game. Shortly thereafter, Brown would head to the locker room with a concussion, done for the day.
And then disaster struck again. The Cowboys had worked their way out to midfield when a miscommunication between Prescott and Lamb resulted in another easy interception for Ford. This time he returned the pick 34 yards to the Dallas 24-yard line, giving the home side great field position with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
Which was plenty of time for the Packers to take advantage of another Cowboys turnover. The running back Jones provided the points, darting up the middle and then racing to the left pylon for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
But the half wasn’t over just yet. With Prescott and the Cowboys offense getting started at their own 34-yard line with 1:37 left on the clock, the quarterback completed 6 of 7 pass attempts for 55 yards. The last of those was a 5-yard completion to Dalton Schultz to tie the game heading into the break.
Turnovers continued to be a big story of the game, but this time it was the Cowboys who came out on the positive end. Punting deep in his own territory Bryan Anger boomed a 55-yarder that then saw three Dallas defenders converge on the Packers return man, forcing a fumble. In came Sean McKeon to pounce on the ball to set the Cowboys up at the Green Bay 45-yard line.
Two snaps later, Prescott threw a perfect pass to Lamb for a 30-yard gain, which was then followed two more snaps later by Pollard scampering up the middle 13 yards for the touchdown and the lead.
With the momentum now firmly behind them, the Cowboys made it 21 unanswered points with a seven play, 86-yard drive for yet another score. Malik Davis came in at running back to give Pollard a breather and immediately made the most of his opportunity, carrying the ball three times for 36 yards. But it was a Prescott-to-Lamb 35-yard connection that brought the team’s fourth touchdown of the night.
Playing in front of a cold but raucous home crowd, the Packers obviously weren’t going to go away quietly. Especially with Rodgers behind center. The quarterback came right back and orchestrated a nine-play, 76-yard drive to make it a one-score game. Rodgers converted a third-and-3 with a 7-yard scramble and then capped off the series with another big touchdown completion to Watson, this time for 39 yards.
But the Rodgers-to-Watson combo wasn’t done yet. The pair teamed up for another touchdown just minutes later, this time the score coming thanks to a 7-yard pass that wrapped up a 10-play, 89-yard possession. The accolades may have fell to Rodgers and Watson, but it was the ground attack that chewed up the yardage. Green Bay running backs Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 54 yards off six carries.
Both sides got another chance with the ball in the final two minutes, but neither team could get anywhere, Dallas heading to overtime for the first time this season.
The Cowboys won the coin toss and didn’t waste time, working their way across midfield to the Packers’ 35-yard line. But instead of kicking a lengthy field goal on fourth-and-3, they decided to go for it instead, Prescott’s pass attempt under heavy pressure falling incomplete.
And then Rodgers did what Rodgers do, finding wideout Allen Lazard on a slant over the middle, the receiver splitting the defense for a 36-yard gain to the Dallas 20-yard line. A pair of snaps to set up the field goal and out came Mason Crosby, his chip-shot 28-yard attempt splitting the uprights to give the Packers the win.
With the loss, the Cowboys fell to 6-3 on the season and dropped back into third place in the tough NFC East with a trip to the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings up next on the schedule.