Dallas looked confident and unstoppable in the first quarter and a half Thursday night while putting maximum pressure on Brett Favre, forcing him out of the game in the second quarter with an elbow injury. The resulting interception on the play led to a Cowboys touchdown giving them a lead they would never lose while holding on to a 37-27 victory over Green Bay at home Thursday night.
While things looked bleak for the Packers after Favre’s injury, Aaron Rodgers came in and played well for the Pack leading them on a touchdown drive late in the first half to close within 10 points of the Cowboys, the halftime score ending 27-17.
The second half began poorly for the home team as Dallas drove down the field but decided to go for it on a 4th and 2 at the Green Bay 38-yard line. I don’t question the decision to try at that point, but I do question the call of a hand-off to Julius Jones, who proceeded to get stuffed a half-yard shy of the first down. I would have had Barber in and given him the opportunity or thrown for it, but it turned out not to cause too much damage in the end.
The next Green Bay drive was sparked by a big catch-and-run by Greg Jennings which led to a Ryan Grant one-yard touchdown run to draw to within 3-points of the Cowboys at 27-24. Ryan Grant also scored on a quick 62-yard scamper earlier in the first quarter for Green Bay to cut the lead to 17-10 at that point. Grant had a good night, but Dallas managed to keep him under 100-yards on the evening keeping their streak of not allowing a hundred-yard rusher alive and well.
Regardless of what Chris Collingsworth and Greg Gumbel said, the interference call against Green Bay early in the fourth was a good call, the defender was not turned towards the ball and grabbed and tripped Miles Austin, who was behind the defense and could have caught the pass. Clearly this was pass interference, and later, he tried to say that the defender had turned earlier but it was a close call, obviously after having read the actual rule. If the defender was looking back at the ball and their feet had become tangled, that is a no call, but he clearly grabbed and tripped Austin.
Besides that, the Al Harris interception in the end zone of the tipped pass to Terrell Owens was quite possibly the strangest play I’ve seen, but then I do remember stating something about how a football is an oblong object and bounces strangely. Dallas was the better team, despite letting their guard down somewhat following Favre’s exit, they did what they had to do to win the game.
Green Bay will be tough to beat a second-time, but then any team you’ve played before gives you an advantage the next time, so when these two teams meet again, and they will, it will be an even better game than this time around.
On a statistical note, Romo surpassed, by far, the single season touchdown pass record for the franchise, throwing for over 300-yards and four touchdowns. Despite the strange bobble in the end zone, T.O. put up some good numbers and got another TD pass and Patrick Crayton had a big night, pulling down several key receptions and two touchdown grabs. The most memorable being the 3rd-and-19 grab giving Dallas a much-needed first down that would utlimately lead to a touchdown.
DeMarcus Ware and Gregg Ellis both got some warm handshaking from owner Jerry Jones following the game for their defensive play, one crucial play being a sack by Ware against Rodgers on a big third down in the fourth quarter after the Harris interception. But second-year cornerback Nate Jones made some great plays also, with several pass defenses and the hit on Favre that put him out of the game. The two interceptions of Favre in the first half, the first by Ken Hamlin and the other by Terrence Newman were big plays leading to Dallas points.
It was a big win and one that will put the Cowboys in great position to certainly clinch the NFC East division handily and maintain homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Congratulations to them and their achievment of an 11-1 record.