Divisional Playoff Round Recap: Packers vs. Cowboys

Kyle Hoeppner, Reporter

On Sunday, January 15th, the Green Bay Packers faced the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The winner of this NFC Divisional Playoff game would travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in the NFC Championship.

Going into this game, the Packers were coming off a huge win against the New York Giants back at Lambeau Field, the Packers’ home field. There, they shut down the Giants with a defense that has been decimated, but resilient, and an offense that is getting hotter day by day. They won 38-13.

Traveling to Dallas, the Packers took on a team coming off a playoff bye. The Cowboys, with star rookies, QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott, showed dominance over the course of the season, well earning the first round bye.

Many NFL fans and analysts have speculated whether the bye week is good or bad for a team. For the Cowboys, they have not only rested their starters during a bye week, but also rested some of them during week 17 of the regular season.

With this assumption up in the air, it did not seem to be true for Dallas once the second half commenced.

At 3:40 pm, the Packers kicked off as the Cowboys received for the first time since week 17. Starting off with the ball, Dallas began with a surge downfield, but had to settle for a field goal after a decent defensive effort by Green Bay.

Now 0-3 in the first quarter, Dallas up, Aaron Rodgers made his way onto the field of AT&T Stadium for the first time since his victory, six years ago, at Super Bowl XLV. With his dangerous arm and versatile offense, Rodgers and the Packers offense scored 3 unanswered touchdowns, including a bomb to TE Richard Rodgers that went in between Dallas defender Sean Lee’s arms.

Nearing the end of the half, the Cowboys were able to answer back scoring ten more points before halftime.

Now 21-13, the Packers began struggle a bit when it came to scoring and defensive coverage. Despite a Green Bay touchdown to make it 28-13, Dallas rallied with great passing plays and powerful runs by Big Zeke. The Cowboys would eventually tie the game 28-28 in the fourth quarter.

After this, the Packers went down field and were stopped in deep Dallas territory. With a long field goal attempt, Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby split the uprights with a 56 yard field goal to bring the score to 31-28.

With such a hard fought game on the line, the Cowboys made one of their own after a drive down field, tieing the game a second time and looking to go into OT.

Tied 31-31 and with only 35 seconds left on the clock, the Packers scrambled to get down field. The drive would start with a couple incompletions to TE Jared Cook, but on third down, Rodgers threw one of his most clutch passes in his career. Cook, somehow, someway, was able to keep two feet inbounds and make a phenomenal catch from a bullet pass from ARod.

Thanks to this play, the Packers were able to set up for another field goal with only three seconds left on the clock.

Now a 51 yard attempt, Crosby came back on the field to kick a game winner. Drilling it through the uprights a second time, the score did not count. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett iced him with a taken timeout.

Readying up for another kick, nerves piled up. With a second kick now in the air and everyone holding their breath, the ball was leaning outside to the left. Within its final seconds of flight, the ball drifted just barely back inside the post for a dramatic finish to an historic game. The final score was 34-31 with a Packers win.

With a victory against Dallas, Green Bay is heading to Atlanta to play for the NFC Championship. The NFC Championship will be on Sunday, January 22nd, at 3:05 pm. The winner will advance to Super Bowl LI, which be held on February 5th, in Houston, Texas.