If anyone was hoping for some kind of catharsis in this game - whether it be for Mike McCarthy or the Cowboys in general - then disappointment was to be had all around. The Cowboys suffered an excruciatingly painful road loss in overtime against the Packers.
After going up by two scores in the third quarter, it looked like the Cowboys had started to flex their muscles. Then they let the Packers score 17 unanswered points to win the game in overtime. These five plays were especially impactful in the game slipping away from Dallas.
Dak Prescott’s first interception prevents Cowboys from taking control of the game
The Cowboys offense started slow, but they woke up and scored a touchdown on the third drive of the game to go up 7-0. Three plays later, the defense strip sacked Aaron Rodgers and recovered the ball at the Green Bay 10-yard line.
The offense proceeded to lose a yard between their first two plays and then faced a third and goal. That’s when Dak Prescott threw his first interception of the day.
Color commentator Greg Olsen later explained how the interception was influenced by Dalton Schultz not running his route properly, which allowed the safety to stay on CeeDee Lamb and break on the ball. Regardless, the Cowboys had an early opportunity to put the Packers down by two scores. Instead, Green Bay scored three plays later to tie it up. This was the first instance on the day of the Cowboys not driving a dagger into their opponent when they had the chance.
Aaron Rodgers scrambles to move the chains on critical third down
The Cowboys played with their food for much of the first half, but it looked like they had changed their ways during the third quarter. The defense forced two Packers punts and the offense responded with touchdowns both times to go up 28-14.
It seemed like the Packers were on the verge of yet another punt, too. Facing a third and three at their own 31-yard line, Rodgers took the shotgun snap but nobody was open. As Micah Parsons came through untouched on a blitz, Rodgers managed to scramble up into the space vacated by Parsons and pick up seven yards to move the chains.
Had Parsons - who left the field with a limp right after the play - gotten to Rodgers in time, the Packers would’ve been punting right back to a red hot Cowboys offense. But the Packers kept things alive and scored a touchdown six plays later.
Consecutive stuffed plays leads to Cowboys punt
Even after the Packers trimmed the deficit to a single touchdown, Prescott and the offense had an opportunity to continue their run and score again to extend the lead. All they had to do was keep scoring against an under-manned defense.
After starting at their own 12-yard line, the Cowboys got out to their own 36. That’s when things stalled. A quick screen pass to Michael Gallup on first down went for no gain. Dallas followed it up with a Tony Pollard run that was quickly stuffed for a gain of just one yard. That put them in a third and nine that, to no one’s surprise, quickly translated to a punt.
It was just two plays, but it was enough to wreck a drive that had shown some promise for an offense that was running hot. The Cowboys needed a scoring drive to prevent the inevitable - Aaron Rodgers - from happening. They didn’t come close, and the Packers tied things up on their very next possession.
CeeDee Lamb gets mauled on third down in overtime, but no flag
To overtime we go, and the Cowboys get the ball to start the extra period. The stage was set: score a touchdown and you win. Kick a field goal, or come up with no points, and you give the ball back to the guy who’s made a career off of ripping teams’ hearts out in these moments. The ball was in the Cowboys’ court, as it had been most of the game.
They moved the ball fairly well, but came up to a crucial third and three on the Green Bay 35-yard line. Prescott looked to Lamb, who had position on Jaire Alexander while running a slant. Then this happened:
If someone knows what constitutes pass interference in the NFL these days, feel free to let me know. Alexander clearly made contact with Lamb prior to the ball getting there, and it clearly affected his ability to make the catch. Had the flag been thrown, Dallas would have been rewarded a first down. Instead, they went for it on fourth down and failed to convert.
DaRon Bland slips, gives up huge catch-and-run to Allen Lazard
Even after the failed fourth-down conversion, not all was lost for the Cowboys. Granted, we all knew Rodgers was about to do something to set up Yet Another Mason Crosby Game Winner™ but the Cowboys still had a chance to flip the script.
The Packers stuck to their run-first approach, and quickly had a third and two just shy of the midfield logo. That’s when the “Rodgers moment” happened:
Rookie cornerback DaRon Bland, matched up in the slot with Allen Lazard, slipped as he tried to flip his hips and run with the receiver. Lazard caught the quick pass with almost nobody around him and turned it into a massive 36-yard gain. The field was flipped, the Packers were in field goal position, and they’d need just a few more carries to make things just a bit easier for Crosby. This was the play where the Cowboys’ hearts were, after being tugged on by Rodgers all day, fully ripped out. Game over.