By: Mark Lane (@therealmarklane)
ARLINGTON, Tx. — The Green Bay Packers stunned the Dallas Cowboys off the foot of kicker Mason Crosby as his 51-yard field goal defeated the home team 34-31 at AT&T Stadium Sunday.
The Packers and Cowboys traded field goals within the last 1:38 of the game with Crosby kicking a 56-yarder to give Green Bay a 31-28 lead. The Cowboys responded with a six-play drive that spotted them a 52-yard Dan Bailey field goal to tie the game. Dallas had to settle for the attempt with 44 seconds to play after a third-and-3 pass from Dak Prescott was batted at the line of scrimmage incomplete. On the first-down play of that set, Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott spiked the ball.
“We felt like that was the right thing to do at that particular time,” said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on whether that was a decision Prescott made or one that came from the sideline. “Keeping a timeout and being able to kick a field goal is really important if you can do it. So, in those situations, when you make a first down, we believe you clock it there so you keep that timeout in your back pocket.”
Garrett admitted the overall goal was to go down and score a touchdown, but the incomplete pass on third down changed things. Thus, Bailey was sent out to try the field goal, which he hit. The downside was the time left for the Packers with 35 seconds to go 40 yards and two timeouts at their disposal.
After a 17-yard screen to running back Ty Montgomery, the Packers had a first-and-10 from their own 42-yard line. Safety Jeff Heath blitzed off the left side and blindsided quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a 10-yard sack to push the Packers back second-and-20 from their own 32-yard line and forced to use a timeout. A pass to tight end Jared Cook fell incomplete, but Rodgers sought Cook again on a pass deep left for 36 yards to the Cowboys 32-yard line. Cook toe-tapped his feet just before landing out of bounds. The officials ruled it was a catch after review, and Crosby was setup to try a 51-yard field goal.
“One of the things that [Rodgers] is best at is his ability to extend plays,” said Garrett. “In that particular situation, he was able to go left and find the tight end down the sideline. He made a big time throw. He made a great catch, put them in position.”
Prescott finished with 24 completions on 38 attempts for 302 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Rodgers completed 28 passes on 43 attempts and 356 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant showed up in the divisional round and could not be contained. He caught nine passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed 22 times for 125 yards.
Cook led all Packers receivers with 104 yards and a touchdown on six catches. Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught six passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Packers receiver Davante Adams caught five passes for 76 yards while teammate Randall Cobb caught seven passes for 62 yards.
The Packers defense was only able to sack Prescott twice while the Cowboys defense sacked Rodgers three times. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee had a game-high eight tackles.
The Cowboys started out the game with possession but were unable to penetrate the red zone and had to settle for a 50-yard field goal and take an early 3-0 lead.
On the Packers’ first possession, Dallas stopped fullback Aaron Ripkowski for no gain on second-and-5 to force a third down. Dallas attempted a substitution, but defensive end Benson Mayowa was unable to get off the field before Rodgers snapped the ball and incurred a 12-men penalty on the Cowboys. The Packers offense rolled down the field with a 15-yard run by Montgomery, a 16-yard catch by Cobb, and then a 34-yard touchdown catch by tight end Richard Rodgers on a go route for Green Bay to take a 7-3 lead with 9:06 in the first quarter.
Dallas appeared to have a promising response to the touchdown drive by getting to the Green Bay 37-yard line in six plays. But on a second-and-5, receiver Brice Butler entered the huddle and triggered a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The flag occurred as the ball was snapped, and the result of the play was a 22-yard catch by receiver Terrance Williams to the Packers’ 15. But the penalty backed Dallas up into a second-and-20 hole from which the Cowboys could not recover and had to punt.
The Packers mounted a 13-play, 90-yard drive where they converted three third downs. Dallas was unable to pressure Rodgers, who surgically sliced his way through the defense. Montgomery capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to give Green Bay a 14-3 lead with 52 seconds having gone by in the second quarter.
After a Dallas three-and-out, the Packers got the ball back at their own 20-yard line and continued with their offensive onslaught as before. Green Bay only saw one third down situation, a third-and-6 from their own 36-yard line, that was converted due to an illegal hands to the face penalty on Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, who was unable to finish the game with a rib injury. Four plays later, the Packers found themselves down on the 1-yard line where Montgomery punched it in to give Green Bay a 21-3 advantage with 8:14 in the second quarter.
Dallas needed a big-play drive and quick to stop the bleeding thanks to Rodgers’ carving up the defense. After a 5-yard catch by Witten and a 9-yard run by Elliott, Prescott hit Bryant for a 21-yard catch to give Dallas a first-and-10 at the Packers’ 40-yard line. On the next play, Bryant caught a 40-yard touchdown pass on a go route to trim into the Packers’ lead 21-10.
Running back Christine Michael bobbled the kickoff near the goal line and chose to take the ball out rather than take a knee for a touchback. The Cowboys kickoff coverage tackled him at the 6-yard line to give the Packers unfavorable field position, and the Dallas defense forced a three-and-out.
Dallas receiver Cole Beasley’s punt return to the Dallas 49-yard line gave the Cowboys good field position, and they were able to get to the Packers’ 15-yard line. The Cowboys coming into the game were the fourth-best red zone offense in the NFL. But the seventh-worst red zone defense in Green Bay was able to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone after three straight incomplete passes. A 33-yard Bailey field goal narrowed the Packers’ lead to 21-13 with 1:00 until halftime.
The Cowboys were able to stop Rodgers before going into the locker room with a three-and-out, but they were not able to stop him coming out of the locker room. Green Bay mounted a six-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 3-yard touchdown grab by Cook to give the Packers a 28-13 lead with 11:25 to play in the third quarter.
The Cowboys responded with another grinding drive that gave the Cowboys a second-and-1 at the 19-yard line. Dallas called a quick out to Beasley to the left that was picked off by Green Bay defensive back Micah Hyde. The Cowboys were able to nullify the free possession for the Packers with a Jeff Heath interception that was taken down to the Cowboys 41-yard line.
Dallas went in reverse with a 10-yard holding penalty on right tackle Doug Free and then a 2-yard loss on a screen to Elliott. The Cowboys found Bryant on a 19-yard pass on second-and-21 and then for 10 yards on a third-and-2 to keep the drive alive. The Cowboys found themselves in a second-and-9 after two runs to Elliott for six yards and a 19-yard catch by Williams. Nick Perry sacked Prescott for a 5-yard loss to put Dallas in a third-and-14. Prescott was able to find Witten for just enough to move the chains. The next play, Prescott hit Witten for a 6-yard touchdown to pull within eight points, Dallas down 28-20 with 11:43 to play.
The Cowboys stopped the Packers offense and limited their drive to four plays and got the ball back. Dallas drove 80 yards in 12 plays with 9:14 left in the game. Bryant caught a 7-yard pass on third-and-2 to score a touchdown and pull Dallas within two points 28-26. A Prescott two-point run tied the game 28-28 with 4:08 left in the game.
* 11:28 1st Quarter — Dan Bailey kicks a 50-yard field goal. 3-0 Cowboys
* 9:06 1st Quarter — Richard Rodgers catches a 34-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. 7-3 Packers
* 14:18 2nd Quarter — Ty Montgomery rushes for a 3-yard touchdown. 14-3 Packers
* 7:42 2nd Quarter — Ty Montgomery rushes for a 1-yard touchdown. 21-3 Packers
* 6:10 2nd Quarter — Dez Bryant catches a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott. 21-10 Packers
* 1:03 2nd Quarter — Dan Bailey kicks a 33-yard field goal. 21-13 Packers
* 11:29 3rd Quarter — Jared Cook catches a 3-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. 28-13 Packers
* 11:43 4th Quarter — Jason Witten catches a 6-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott. 28-20 Packers
* 4:12 4th Quarter — Dez Bryant catches a 7-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott (Prescott rush good). 28-28 tie
* 1:38 4th Quarter — Mason Crosby kicks a 56-yard field goal. 31-28 Packers
* 0:44 4th Quarter — Dan Bailey kicks a 52-yard field goal. 31-31 tie
* 0:03 4th Quarter — Mason Crosby kicks a 51-yard field goal. 34-31 Packers
* Jason Witten caught his first career postseason touchdown pass.
* Dak Prescott’s three touchdowns are the most by a rookie quarterback in a playoff game since 1970.
* The Cowboys now own the most losses by a No. 1 seed in the divisional round since 1990.
* Aaron Rodgers is now 33-32 when he is sacked three or more times.
* The Cowboys are the first NFC No. 1 seed to lose in the divisional round since the Packers in 2011.
* The Cowboys are now 2-1 in the postseason at AT&T Stadium. The Packers are 2-0.
* Dan Bailey is now 4-of-6 on field goals in the postseason.
* Bailey’s 52-yard field goal is the longest in Cowboys postseason history.