Packers vs. Cowboys final score, things to know: Aaron Rodgers stuns Dallas in thriller
Rodgers is officially the Dallas Cowboys' worst nightmare
Sunday morning began with some Ben Roethlisberger tossed a career-high five picks. Matt Cassel gave a vintage Matt Cassel performance. Blake Bortles and Jay Cutler combined for 187 yards -- and both won!.
They didn't disappoint. Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers provided a reminder that good quarterbacks do, in fact, still exist. In one of the best games of the season -- not just in terms of entertainment, but also in terms of quality -- the Packers edged the Cowboys, 35-31, thanks to this godly game-winning touchdown from Rodgers to Davante Adams.
Of note: This isn't the first time Rodgers has broken Jerry Jones' heart. By now, it's sorta becoming Rodgers' thing. I don't think anyone has forgotten how the Cowboys' dream run ended a season ago.
It wasn't just the ending on Sunday. The game was great from the start.
The Cowboys immediately put the Packers in a hole. On the opening drive of the game, they journeyed 75 yards on 12 plays -- using a fourth-down conversion and a controversial penalty on the way -- and reached the end zone when Prescott connected with Cole Beasley for a two-yard touchdown. But the Packers responded with their own 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a perfectly placed strike from Rodgers to Adams. Mason Crosby, however, missed the extra point.
The Cowboys responded to the Packers' response by mounting another scoring drive. We were off to a blistering start.
The Cowboys' second drive ended the same way: a touchdown pass from Prescott to Beasley. That gave them a 14-6 lead. Their lead would grow to 21-6 on their third drive when Prescott threw his third touchdown, this time to Dez Bryant.
But the Packers struck just before halftime with an Aaron Jones touchdown run. Again, a missed extra point haunted the Packers. They entered the break down 21-12 -- a two-possession game instead of a one-score game. And possessions were limited. The Cowboys had four in the first half; the Packers three.
The Cowboys clearly entered the game with a plan: limit Rodgers' chances. And it worked -- for a half, at least. The other part of their plan -- use the sun to blind Rodgers -- worked throughout the entire game.
The third quarter belonged to the Packers. They kicked a 22-yard field goal after a lengthy drive to close the gap to six points. After forcing the Cowboys to punt -- well, the Cowboys chose to punt on fourth-and-short for some dumb reason -- the Packers marched right back down the field. On the first play of the fourth quarter, they capped their 14-play drive, which was aided by multiple penalties, with a scoring strike from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. The Packers took a 22-21 lead with almost an entire quarter left to play.
And then Ezekiel Elliott came alive after a quiet first three quarters. On the ensuing drive, two big runs by Elliott put the Cowboys in field goal position. They retook the lead, 24-22.
The lead held up until Prescott threw his fourth touchdown. but this one counted for the Packers.
Clearly, that isn't on Prescott. It's on Terrance Williams for dropping an easy catch, which gave Damarious Randall a free pick-six. That's how the Packers took a 28-24 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
The Cowboys' response? A mammoth eight-minute drive (17 plays, 79 yards) that involved a clutch fourth down run by Elliott and ended with a Prescott touchdown run on a zone-read. With 1:13 remaining in the game, the Cowboys led by three.
The only problem? The Cowboys scored too soon. Rodgers had more than a minute and a timeout to get Crosby into field goal range. For Rodgers, getting into field goal range was simply a formality. Crosby making the kick, however, was no guarantee, considering he'd already missed two extra points.
So Rodgers didn't settle for a field goal. He ended the game then and there with a perfect throw to Adams because he's Aaron freakin' Rodgers and Aaron freakin' Rodgers does whatever the heck he wants, when he wants, to who he wants. It just so happens that he loves doing it to the Cowboys in Dallas.
Before the game went final, though, we were given one of more entertaining final lateral plays you'll ever see.
Read on for seven takeaways from the game.
1. Dak Prescott was also brilliant
Don't let what Rodgers did at the end of the game distract you from the fact that Prescott was also unreal. In all, Prescott went 25 of 36 for 251 yards, three touchdowns, a pick that wasn't his fault, and a 105.2 passer rating. He added 37 yards and a score on the ground.
Don't blame Dak, who was let down by his defense (again), for the Cowboys' loss.
He was sharp from the beginning. On the Cowboys' opening scoring drive, he converted a third-and-14 with a ridiculous throw to Brice Butler.
He finished the drive with an easy scoring toss to Beasley. He found Beasley again for his second touchdown.
Finally, he decided to spread the ball around, throwing his third touchdown of the first half to Bryant. His fourth touchdown likely would've been a game-winner if he was going up against anyone other than Rodgers.
Unfortunately, Prescott scored too soon.
2. But Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers
Even before his game-winner, Rodgers was his normal great self on Sunday. He finished 19 of 29 for 221 yards, three touchdowns, no picks, and a 122.9 passer rating.
Some of his touchdowns were easy:
Others weren't so easy, requiring the kind of precision that only a few quarterbacks are capable of:
What more is there to say? Rodgers did it all. He used his athleticism to escape pressure at timely moments (32 yards on four scrambles), he made more than a few jaw-dropping throws, and he ended his day with a game-winning touchdown.
AT&T Stadium now belongs to Rodgers.
3. Dez fizzles after hot start, Zeke heats up after slow start
Entering Sunday, Bryant was averaging 53 receiving yards per game. On Sunday, Bryant started hot, catching this touchdown from Prescott.
But he disappeared in the second half. He finished with five catches and 52 yards. That kind of outing won't quell the rumblings that Bryant is no longer an elite WR1.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys' other star, Elliott, looked sluggish in the early going before coming alive in the fourth quarter. He rumbled for a couple big gains to get the Cowboys into field goal range and picked up a huge fourth down late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 116 yards on 29 carries (4.0 yards per attempt).
4. Aaron Jones earned more carries
Aaron Jones only started for the Packers on Sunday because Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams both missed the game with injuries. Moving forward, he should receive plenty of playing time regardless of Montgomery and Williams' health. Jones is too good to leave on the sidelines.
On Sunday, he rushed for 125 yards on 19 carries (6.6 yards per carry). He also scored the only non-Rodgers offensive touchdown for the Packers.
Runs like this demonstrate his skill set:
The Packers found a running back to pair with Montgomery. Heck, maybe it's Montgomery that will be paired with Jones moving forward.
5. David Irving returns
The Cowboys were in desperate need of another pass rusher to pair alongside DeMarcus Lawrence. David Irving is that pass rusher. After missing the first four games of the season due to his suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy, he made his 2017 debut on Sunday. He looked brilliant, racking up two sacks.
The Cowboys lost the game, but Irving will help them cover up their weakness (defense) down the stretch.
6. Davante Adams is more than just healthy
Less than two weeks ago, Adams was hospitalized when he took an illegal shot to the head against the Bears. He didn't miss a game, returning on Sunday.
And he was awesome, totaling seven catches, 66 yards, and two touchdowns -- one of those touchdowns was the game-winner, of course.
7. What's next?
The 2-3 Cowboys will enjoy a bye week before heading to San Francisco for what could be an easy bounce-back win. Meanwhile, the 4-1 Packers have a tough matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota next week.
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