Hard to come up with a one word description of what happened today at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Packers kept their season alive with a franchise record tying comeback, 37-36 over the Dallas Cowboys. They trailed 26-3 at intermission, they were out-gained 332-132 and looked every bit like a team that was ready to call it a year. So how do you describe it?
Epic? Stunning? Thrilling? Silly?
Matt Flynn tossed four touchdown passes, Eddie Lacy powered out 141 yards on the ground including the go ahead 1 yard dive behind fullbacks Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji no less, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams came up with gigantic interceptions in the final three minutes. It was amazing. After the final gun, Head Coach Mike McCarthy talked about his quarterback, the turnaround and most importantly, his halftime speech:
Let's take this from the top. The Cowboys moved 52 yards to open the game and settled for a Dan Bailey 47 yard field goal. Flynn hit James Jones for 39 yards on a 41 yard possession and Mason Crosby answered with another bomb, a 57 yard kick to tie the game at 3. It was all downhill from there. Morgan Burnett should have had an end zone pick on third and goal from the five but Dallas pushed in front with another field goal. A three and out set up Dallas at their 35 and they needed only 4 plays to score the game's first touchdown, a 25 yard catch from Jason Witten that made it 13-3 after one. Two possessions later, Bailey hit another, from 43 and then Flynn was picked off by Sterling Moore who returned the ball to the Green Bay 20. A sack backed up Dallas but Bailey boomed a 50 yard kick to stretch the lead to 16. After a punt, Dez Byrant caught passes for 37 and 16 yards leading to DeMarco Murray's one yard run with :24 left in the half and a seemingly insurmountable 26-3 lead. I admit I tweeted the end of the line at intermission but was I wrong.
To start the third, Lacy ripped off a 60 yard run on the first snap. Jordy Nelson snatched a touchdown away from Orlando Scandrick from 13 yards out to make it 26-10. The Cowboys fired right back by driving for field goal number five from Bailey with 6:33 to go in the period. Flynn began to heat up, converting a pair of big thrid downs on the next drive, 22 yards to Andrew Quarless on third and 8, 21 yards to Nelson on third and 10. Quarless finished the march with a three yard TD catch on a slant from the right and the Packers were within shouting distance at 29-17.
The defense was finally roused as Clay Matthews and Datone Jones sacked Romo for 13 yards back to his two yard line, forcing a punt. Micah Hyde fielded the kick at the 48 and got the corner for 26 yards. James Starks took a short screen over the middle and worked behind Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang for an 11 yard touchdown 2 minutes into the 4th quarter to close within 5.
It looked like Tramon Williams picked off Romo, returning to the Cowboy 8 yard line but after a replay review, the catch was correctly called incomplete. A pair of defensive penalties didn't help and Bryant made a sensational catch in coverage at the back of the end zone on a five yard pass that put the Cowboys back up 36-24 with only 7:55 left.
Undaunted, Flynn drove the Packers 80 yards in 10 plays, Jarrett Boykin hauled in a 27 yard back shoulder catch up the sideline and James Jones snatched a three yard scoring catch to make it 36-31 fwith 4:17 to go.
After Dallas gained a first down, Romo avoided a Matthews sack but his pass over the middle for Miles Austin was intercepted by Sam Shields at midfield. Flynn hit Quarless for 18 on first down, Lacy pounded out gains of 4 and 7 yards. After a pass interference call moved it to the 13, Lacy gained 9. After a fade route to Jones missed, Lacy again showed his strength by fighting for three yards and a first down to the one. That's when the rookie went airborne for his 8th rushing touchdown with 1:31 to go and the Packers were unbelievably in front by one. A two point try to Quarless missed and the Cowboys had their last shot with 80 yards to go and one timeout. After a gain of 9, Romo threw for Cole Beasley but Williams plucked the ball just off the turf and rolled over. Officials on the field called it incomplete but the turnover was automatically reviewed and moments later, referee Walt Coleman announced the reversal and the improbable comeback was complete. It matched the opening day rally of 1982 when the Packers trailed the Rams 23-0 at Milwaukee County Stadium and roared back to win 35-23.
The numbers: Dallas outgained Green Bay 466-433 by piling up a franchise record 332 yards in the first half. The Packers but 301 in the second half. Flynn finished 26 of 39 for 299 yards with four scores and a pick, a passer rating of 113.1. Romo wound up 29 of 48 for 358 yards, two scores and two late interceptions, a rating of 80.0.
On the ground, Lacy picked up 141 yards on 21 carries, pushing him to 1028 yards on the season, only the second rookie to hit the milestone. He needs 78 yards to break John Brockington's record. DeMarco Murray had 134 yards on just 18 carries but he had only 7 carries in the second half.
Bryant was a beast downfield with 11 catches for 153 yards and a score, but he showed his true colors by jogging into the locker room after the final Romo interception and with more than a minute to play. How Dallas can tolerate that insubordination is beyond me. Boykin and Quarless led the Pack with six catches each.
The only injury of note was a shoulder injury that knocked out Johnny Jolly in the first half. The Packers inactives were Aaron Rodgers, Nate Palmer, Lane Taylor, J.C. Tretter, Jake Stoneburner, C.J. Wilson and Jerel Worthy.
Randall Cobb must be getting close. He was running routes in warmups with Scott Tolzien throwing him passes.
The Packers now lead the all-time series with Dallas 13-12, beating the Cowboys in Texas for the first time since 1989. Fans may be talking about this one until 2089.