The Dallas Cowboys cannot seem to catch a break in the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers took care of Dallas on Sunday afternoon, winning 34-31 on a time-expiring field goal from the foot of Mason Crosby. The loss extends the Cowboys’ 22-year streak of not making it past the Divisional playoff round.
Dak Prescott, in his first playoff appearance, led the Cowboys back from a 15-point deficit and tied the game at 28 after a successful two-point conversion run. Both teams would add a field goal, but the Packers got the ball back with 35 seconds.
Finally getting his opportunity at the end of a playoff game, Aaron Rodgers made the most of it. Green Bay moved 43 yards in 32 seconds, including an immaculate 36-yard catch by Jared Cook on the sideline to give Crosby the chance to win the game.
Although Prescott was the quarterback receiving most of the attention earlier in the week, it was Rodgers who absolutely stole the show. He threw for 356 yards and a pair of touchdowns while cementing himself as one of the best postseason quarterbacks.
In the first half, Rodgers diced up the Cowboys’ defense, putting a 21 spot on the scoreboard and giving Dallas its largest deficit in a game this season. It wasn’t until the end of the second quarter that Dallas’ offense finally turned it on and scored 10 quick points.
The momentum didn’t carry over into the second half. Once again, the offense stalled and found themselves on the short stick of a high-scoring game. Luckily for Dallas, the defense did its part to keep Rodgers in check, allowing Green Bay just seven points of their own.
Dallas scored 18 points in the fourth, a season high for any quarter. Prescott opened the scoring with a Jason Witten six-yard touchdown pass, which was Witten’s first in postseason history. He then connected with Bryant for a seven-yard score with just over four minutes to play. Dan Bailey eventually hit a 52-yard field to even the score with just 35 seconds remaining.
Although they would once again tie the game, the time on the clock was too much to try and stop Rodgers from moving down the field. It was not one of Rodgers’ famous hail mary throws, but the dart to Cook proved to be the biggest play of the game.
The Cowboys deserve plenty of credit for hanging on until the very end. It was the first time all season that they had to play catch-up and fight back, and the reaction was exactly what fans wanted to see. The duo of offensive playmakers in Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant never gave up, both of them accounting for more than half of Dallas’ total offense.
Fans could not have asked for a more exciting game between these two. Statistics from both teams were nearly identical, and it took until the very last second for a winner to be decided. It was the second time in three years that the Packers eliminated the Cowboys from the playoffs.
The postseason exit concludes what was a memorable and era-ending season in Dallas. The franchise gained a new face and created one of the most heated and talked-about debates in all of sports. The NFL world was lucky enough to watch on as a once third-string quarterback led Dallas to a truly brilliant season.
The Packers will face the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game next Sunday at 3:05 p.m. Eastern time.
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