The Green Bay Packers head south this week to face the Dallas Cowboys in a pivotal meeting of NFC powerhouses. The Packers enter the contest with ten days of rest after beating the Chicago Bears last Thursday. The Cowboys fell to .500 after a disappointing home loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week. The divisional round rematch between the Cowboys and Packers should be a tight affair, with the Packers seeking a similar outcome.
Green Bay Packers Face the Dallas Cowboys in Divisional Round Rematch
The Packers and Cowboys have a decorated past as two of the NFL’s oldest and most established franchises. They have met 35 times with the first being in 1960. The Packers currently hold the edge in the all-time series 18-17. The teams have met in the playoffs eight times with an even split. The Cowboys won three straight games from 1994-1996 against Brett Favre and company, spurring one of the NFL’s most underrated rivalries today. After the “catch or no catch” play two years ago and the drama of last year’s divisional round, the Cowboys and Packers are sure to put on a show in the first meeting of these teams in 2017.
Most Pivotal Matchup
One of the most memorable games in Packers history occurred before the NFL was officially established. The famous meeting of the Cowboys and Packers in the 1967 NFL Championship game would later be known as the Ice Bowl. In the frigid weather at Lambeau Field, Vince Lombardi‘s Packers took the field against Tom Landry‘s Cowboys for one of the coldest games of all time.
With a wind chill under -50 degrees Fahrenheit, the frozen tundra created terrible playing conditions for both teams. The weather was not able to inhibit the incredible performance put on display, though. The crowd at Lambeau never wavered and neither did their team.
The Packers jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the second quarter before quarterback Don Meredith stormed back into the game, scoring 17 unanswered points for the Cowboys. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, legendary Packer Bart Starr began his march down the field. Having thrown two touchdown passes already, it would be Starr’s legs that would end up making this one of the most important games in Packers history.
After driving down the field on a variety of short-yardage plays, the Packers reached first and goal from the one yard line with under a minute to play. After two failed run attempts by halfback Donny Anderson, Starr called timeout before the game’s penultimate moment. In a conversation with Lombardi on the sideline, the legendary coach emphatically called for Starr to run an unknown play in order to get the hell out of there. Starr did just that.
With 16 seconds on the clock Starr called a dive to the right side, but kept the ball rather than handing it off. With the field frozen beneath his feet, Starr lunged for the goal line behind the block from Hall of Fame snub Jerry Kramer. A Cowboy stop at the goal line would have effectively ended the game, but Starr was able to break the plane and secure the Packers third world championship in as many years.
Most Recent Meeting
These teams played twice last year, first in Green Bay in week six, then in Dallas for the divisional round of the playoffs. Although Dallas steamrolled the Packers at Lambeau, the Packers had the more important road victory in the playoffs. In one of the best games of last season, a red hot Packers team continued its streak of success, defeating the Cowboys 34-31.
The Cowboys started the game with a successful drive down the field before settling for a Dan Bailey field goal. The Packers then stole the momentum by scoring three straight touchdown drives. Running back Ty Montgomery accounted for two of those touchdowns. The Packers held a commanding 21-13 lead at halftime. The second half was a much different story.
After the Packers marched down the field and added a three yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers to tight end Jared Cook, the Cowboys began their ferocious comeback. The fourth quarter scoring erupted with a quick pass from Dak Prescott to Jason Witten. The Packers failed to generate a response. Prescott got his chance to tie the game with just over four minutes remaining. He threw a quick slant to Dez Bryant for the receiver’s second touchdown of the game. The Packers were able to move down the field on the next drive and kicked the go-ahead field goal.
Rodgers Adds to his Legacy
Rodgers was worried he left too much time on the clock, but thankfully he did. Prescott got the Cowboys in field goal range and the ultra-reliable Bailey delivered to tie the game with just 35 seconds remaining. The next drive proved that Rodgers is no normal quarterback. Rodgers was blindsided on the third play of the drive but held onto what should have been a certain fumble. After his second incomplete pass to Cook on the drive, the Packers faced third and 20 with 12 seconds remaining.
Cook then made the best play of his career, running a deep cross and making the sideline grab on one of the greatest catches in Packers history. Kicker Mason Crosby then made not one, but two, field goals from 51 yards out after being iced on the first try. The Packers would move on to face the Atlanta Falcons in their second NFC Championship appearance in the previous three years.
Significance of Week Five
If the last two years are any indication these teams have a decent chance of meeting in the postseason. Although Dallas won the first meeting last year, they didn’t have the juice to last the Packers in the end. This game will be an important test to see how good this Packers team actually is. After slim victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals, a severe loss to the Falcons, and a blowout of the Bears, this year’s Packers team will truly be tested in a physical road game against the Cowboys.