Anybody watching the Packers versus Cowboys matchup on Sunday night witnessed what easily might have been the best football game of this decade. From the giant lead the Packers held, to the massive comeback from the Cowboys, to the three 50+ yard field goals on the final two minutes, there was nothing more that could’ve happened to make the game exciting.
It was a battle of the old guard versus the up and comers. NFL centerpiece Aaron Rodgers against NFL upstart Dak Prescott. The Cowboys had been the best team all season in the NFC, ending up with a 13-3 record that included losses to only two teams. They had even thoroughly dominated the Packers earlier, but playoff football is a very different monster. Rodgers made several incredible plays, and in the end it was enough to maintain the grip on the game, barely.
After Mason Crosby hit a 56 yard knuckleball field goal that put the Packers up by 3 points with less than two minutes to play, it looked as if the game would end in Green Bay’s favor. Prescott and company had other plans, though, and in a matter of seconds they had marched down to the Packers 40 yard line and Prescott spiked the ball with less than a minute remaining. That spike cost them the game when the Cowboys couldn’t get another first down and settled for a 52 yard Dan Bailey kick that split the uprights and left the Packers fans with a horrible feeling that precedes a horrible playoff loss. The Packers were winning by 15 going into the fourth quarter, they couldn’t blow this game now, right? With 36 seconds left and one timeout Rodgers was determined to leave Dallas with the victory. Three plays later Rodgers had only advanced the Packers about 25 yards when he took a hard hit from a blitzing Dallas safety. Rodgers never saw it coming and his body crumpled to the ground, but the football remained glued to his right hand, amazingly never hitting the turf. Rodgers holding onto that ball during a blind-side hit was a miracle, and it will be discussed as long as football is talked about.
The next play would be even better, though, when Rodgers drew up his own play in the huddle and rolled out to his right, hitting tight end Jared Cook 36 yards downfield with two seconds left. Cool dragged his two feet inbounds just centimeters before his momentum carried his body fully out of bounds. The catch was incredible, and it put the Packers in position to win the game on a last second kick.
One timeout and two 51 yard kicks later, and the Packers left Dallas with a 34-31 victory. Mason Crosby became the first kicker in NFL playoff history to kick two 50+ yard field goals on the final two minutes that gave his team the lead. Who knows, maybe this is the team of destiny.
On to Atlanta.
Prediction: Green Bay 38 Atlanta 35