No one saw this coming. In a brutal game where they could seemingly do nothing right, the Dallas Cowboys were absolutely blown out of AT&T Stadium by the Green Bay Packers. The 48-32 score wasn’t an accurate reflection of just how miserable the Cowboys were in all phases of the game because of the Cowboys garbage time points.
It was a game where we saw things that are all too familiar. Of course, Green Bay seems to just have Dallas’ number. But the Cowboys’ defense under Dan Quinn was unable to even slow the Packers’ offense. Jordan Love would leave the game with a perfect passer rating and their punter would spend almost the entire game on the bench. Dak Prescott has bad games at the worst times in his career, and he did it again, throwing two interceptions to help dig the huge hole they could not dig out of. As a result, Dallas squandered home field advantage, and now the questions will be flying about Mike McCarthy’s future with the team. He seems able to win a lot of games in the regular season, but his teams just fold in the playoffs. It is impossible to know what will be going through Jerry Jones’ mind, but it can’t be good.
The Packers won the coin toss and elected to receive, challenging the Cowboys to stop them right off the bat. It was a decision that paid off, as Green Bay would mount a 12-play drive that took over half the first quarter, with effective running by Aaron Jones, who would cap it with a touchdown, and some effective passing from Jordan Love. Another bad sign was that the Packers only had to convert one third down. It put Dallas in an immediate hole. The strategy was sound, given that the Cowboys have not played their best when trailing. The possession was also marred by two penalties on Dallas. Things were definitely off to a rocky start for the home team.
The Cowboys needed to answer, but after getting out to the Green Bay 49, mostly on a Dak Prescott scramble, CeeDee Lamb was unable to pull in a pass and they had to punt it back. And the penalty trend continued as Sam Williams would get flagged for fair catch interference, setting Green Bay up on their own 24 instead of inside the 10.
The Packers started well again, getting to the Cowboys’ 48, but then the seemingly impossible happened and Micah Parsons drew a holding call! It was not accepted, as the pass had fallen incomplete, and the Cowboys got the ball back, but on their own eight.
Then the worst possible thing happened as Jaire Alexander, who fought through injury to play, outfought Brandin Cooks for a ball at the Dallas 19. Not taking care of the ball was a prescription for disaster. Jones would run the ball to the six to set up first and goal, but then on the last play of the first quarter, Parsons would draw his second holding call of the game to back things up to the 16. It was quickly overcome, however, as Love would hit Romeo Doubs at the 1. Jones would fight into the end zone, and suddenly the Cowboys were in a two touchdown hole.
Turpin made a bad decision to bring the ball out, getting dropped at the 14 to leave his team facing another long field. Tony Pollard would get things off to a good start with an 11-yard run, followed by another for seven. He would get stuffed on the next play, setting up another third down. Prescott would find Rico Dowdle on a little dump off to get a new set of downs at the 36. But Prescott would have another incompletion to Lamb, a troubling sign. So he would go to Jake Ferguson down the seam to the Green Bay 41. But the Packers would force another third down and Prescott would get sacked at the 42.
Anger would put the punt at the seven and Dallas needed a stop. The Packers offense wasn’t cooperating, though, and they quickly got a first down at the 26. On the next play, Love found Doubs for 39 yards, and Parsons seemed to be hurt on the play, although he would come back after a couple of plays off. Green Bay just kept attacking, and Love would find Dontayvion Wicks for their third touchdown of the game, capping a 93-yard drive where Dan Quinn had no answers. The only small thing in Dallas’ favor was a missed extra point.
The Cowboys were getting desperate for some offense, but Prescott would throw his first pass at Lamb’s feet. He got a first down with completions to Michael Gallup and Cooks. Another throw to Gallup would get them into Green Bay territory, and as the two-minute warning hit, Lamb finally reeled in the ball. But Prescott would throw a pick-six on the next pay to Darnell Savage, putting Dallas in a 27-0 hole that was looking much to deep to dig out of. Even if the offense could find its rhythm, the defense was doing nothing to even slow the Packers.
Turpin would try to give his team a lift with a 47-yard return to the Cowboys’ 45. Then a horse-collar penalty would add 15 yards, although replay made it look like a bad call by the officials. Prescott almost threw a third interception from the 11 on an attempt to hit Ferguson in the end zone. It looked like they would fail due to a pass short of the end zone to Lamb, but a defensive holding penalty would give them one more shot from the one-yard line with just six seconds left. Prescott and Lamb would fail to connect again, leaving two seconds on the clock. Finally, as the clock ran out, Prescott would find Ferguson on an run/pass option to get on the scoreboard. Still, the 27-7 deficit was daunting, to put it mildly.
The Cowboys got the ball after halftime, and needed to get another touchdown to get back in this game. Things started out well again with a pass to Lamb for a first down. A couple of Pollard runs set up 3rd and 2. Prescott would try and get it on his own. He came up short, but a facemask penalty would keep the drive alive, with the ball now at the Green Bay 40. Lamb would get another first down on a great shoe top catch of a ball where Prescott’s hand was hit. Then Lamb would convert again as the connection with his quarterback seemed to be back in place. Prescott would flirt with yet another pick that fortunately hit the ground, setting up a 3rd and 10 at the 16, and the ball would be batted down, forcing the Cowboys to bring out Brandon Aubrey for a short field goal to cut the score to 27-10, but it was not what they needed.
They also needed the defense to finally get a stop. With the big lead, the Packers started to lean on Jones, who got a quick first down on the ensuing drive. Then on a play where Love and Jones collided in the backfield, Love was still able to find Doubs for a huge gain to the Dallas 17. Two plays later they would get another rushing touchdown from Jones, who was once again the Cowboys’ kryptonite, and the score was 34-10. The end of the Dallas postseason was looking inevitable.
The Cowboys would manage to get their second touchdown of the game, with help from penalties and a big catch by Gallup, who was the team’s leading receiver at that point. They would go for two, but this time the yellow laundry would go against them. Then Aubrey would clank the longer extra point off the upright, leaving the score 34-16 on a day where nothing seemed to go right for the home team.
All the Packers had to do was just use up clock, but why do that when Dallas was going to leave receivers completely uncovered as they did Musgrave on a ridiculously easy three play drive to make it 41-16. And it wasn’t even the fourth quarter yet. And that would start with Green Bay having the ball at the Cowboys’ 41 after a fourth down try that wasn’t even close to being completed.
It was a game where we just wanted to see the clock run out so we could lick our wounded egos and start mock drafts. The Packers would just continue to pour salt in the wound as they would pound it in for yet another touchdown against a defense that seemed completely disheartened and lost. The Cowboys would get garbage time points that did nothing to reduce the pain of this. It was one of the most massive disappointments to end a postseason imaginable, and the fallout from this game threatens to be huge.