Green Bay Packers 34 – 31 Dallas Cowboys
The Green Bay Packers traveled to Dallas to take on the soaring Cowboys in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, and boy did they play a thriller! After jumping out to an early lead on a dominant first half, the Cowboys led a stupendous comeback leading to one of the most exciting fourth quarters in playoff history, with Mason Crosby punching the Packers ticket to the NFC Championship Game.
This may as well officially now be the part of the column where we look at one or two particular Aaron Rodgers heroics each week. Despite throwing his first interception since the Tennessee game, which no doubt sports media will spend the week making entirely too big a deal about, Rodgers again spent the game doing the things only he can do.
A perfect example came with 11 minutes left in the first quarter. Dallas, apparently feeling more comfortable on defense in their own building than they should, was attempting to substitute. The TV broadcast of the game showed Rodgers counting the defenders on the field before spotting 12, rushing his team to the line and drawing the 12 men penalty on defense, the following play Dallas had to call a very early defensive timeout. This was quickly followed, on the touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers at 9 minutes in the first quarter, with a classic Aaron Rodgers hard count.
The Cowboys were drawn off side, and Richard Rodgers was able to put a move on the otherwise stellar Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee while Aaron dropped a ball into the tiniest of windows (it actually grazed Lee’s helmet) for the go ahead touchdown in the first that started the offensive momentum. Few passages of play exemplify the cerebral side of Aaron Rodgers game like that one, and maybe the late fourth quarter play to Cook which we’ll discuss next.
Turning Point – Rodgers to Cook
The single greatest moment of this victory came on a 3rd and 20 in the fourth with 12 seconds remaining, in a game tied 31-31 and the ball sitting at the Packers own 33 yard line. Rodgers could be seen on the TV broadcast in the huddle telling the receivers where to run in an almost caricature of his usual playground football style.
Rodgers rolled out left, pumped a deep throw, pulled the ball down, ran further towards the sideline then fired a laser down the left sideline into the hands of tight end Jared Cook, The catch was every bit as spectacular as the throw. Cook found a soft spot in the deep zone coverage of Dallas and as if a ballerina en pointe balanced his toes inches from the sideline and made the catch. This is the miracle throw that set up the Crosby game winning field goal, and continued the decades long streak of Dallas not being able to reach the Championship game. I’m still excited typing about that play.
Hold, hold, hold!
I’ve gone through this season without really discussing officiating in these articles. I’m a firm believer in the fact that officiating is never going to be perfect and accepting of that fact. However the officiating in games through these playoffs so far has often been a particularly conspicuous level of bad. There were numerous blatant holds on Davante Adams by Dallas defenders that weren’t called (see the adjacent picture for a perfect example).
In the interest of fairness, because this point is about the state of officiating not about rooting for the Packers, there were a couple of calls that could have been made on the Packers that weren’t called either. NFL officiating is suspect at the best of times, but breaking crews up to form these ‘all star’ playoff crews just seems to exacerbate the problem.
Ty Montgomery Player Of The Week Award
Since I’m gonna try and not take the easy way out by giving the award to Rodgers, I don’t see how the player of the week for the divisional round can go to anyone other than Mason Crosby.
For a guy who struggled as hard as he had at points in his career, he’s come back to be one of the premier kickers in the NFL, and so often comes through for this team. No situation has ever been more clutch than the one he found himself in. 51 yard field goal, 3 seconds left, NFC Championship game on the line, iced by Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on his successful first attempt at the kick. Did Crosby let it phase him? Was there a thawing of the ice in his veins? Hell no. He nailed that game winner with the weight of every Packers fan on his back like the hero that he is.
Fellow nerd and, regrettably, former Viking put it best when he tweeted about how Crosby is the perfect example of what happens when you take the time to rebuild a good player following a slump. Crosby, we salute you.
Mason Crosby is a case study in how if you build a kicker’s confidence back up, he’ll probably make you happy you did so.
— Cassandra (@ChrisWarcraft) January 16, 2017
- Next year is gonna be interesting to see with how this secondary, and the front office, deal with the likely retirement of Sam Shields. The players on the roster, apart from Hyde, just don’t have what it takes to get it done at cornerback. It may be the case that help is simply not on the horizon and we must just hope that, in their third year, Rollins and Randall find a way to be consistently average cornerbacks at best.
- I like the Packers chances against Atlanta. It’s been pointed out myriad times by different people on twitter (so many that I can’t fairly pick just one to credit here) that the last time they met the Packers only lost by 1, and that was without Montgomery, Cobb, Rollins, Randall, Cook, and Matthews.
- Speaking of Matthews, he and Julius Peppers need to start producing in a manner commensurate with their compensation. They’re two of the highest paid pass rushers in football and last night against Dallas combined for 2 tackles. One of the bright points of that front (other than the eternally glorious Mike Daniels) however, is there are big flashes that Kenny Clark is starting to put the game together. Late in the third quarter he sniffed out a screen to Ezekiel Elliott, pursued him to the sideline and tackled him for a loss, if he can build on that he could have a bright future as our latest first round pick.
- As always, hit me up on twitter with comments, opinions, or discussions about having a really good beard. Go Pack Go!