Packers 41, Dallas 20. Lots of good in this game. The Packers offense continued to roll, although against a struggling Dallas defense, and the Packers had their first win at Lambeau in 2004 (1-3). Some bad in this game too. FS Darren Sharper and CB Al Harris got banged up. Harris was burned in the second half after the injury (the long TD pass to TE Jason Witten comes to mind). Plus QB Brett Favre continues to have one of the crappiest 12 months of his life. First he breaks his thumb, then his father dies, then his brother-in-law dies, he suffers through a couple more injuries (hamstring and hand) before disclosing that his wife has breast cancer. Favre played through his concern for her against Dallas, but this is a very serious illness for Deanna Favre and it would be very understandable if Favre is distracted by it. Hopefully Deanna learned of her illness early and her treatments will be successful.
First Quarter: So far Dallas's offense has been playing well with AARP members QB Vinny Testaverde and RB Eddie George leading the way. Dallas was able to run and more effectively pass against the Packers, even before the injuries to Sharper and Harris. The good news is that the Packers defense is adopting a bend-but-don't-break philsophy (Dallas was held to two field goals on two good 1st quarter drives while overall held to under 50% on third down (5 for 13)). The Packers offense scored on their first 7 possessions and was humming all day. Packers 3, Dallas 6.
Second Quarter: FOX wanted everyone to know that Favre is 1-8 in his career against Dallas. All 8 losses coming in Dallas and occuring during the 1995 season or earlier. Yes, the NFL schedule makers hated the Packers pre-1995 and loved the glam Aikman, Smith, Irvin Cowboys. Although some of those games were playoff games and awarded due to regular season records, how often does one NFL team play 8 straight times at another opponent? This quarter killed Dallas. The Packers offense continued to hum along, while Dallas was stopped on two three-and-outs to kill any momentum they had after a strong offensive 2nd quarter. Packers 20, Dallas 6.
Third Quarter: RB Tony Fisher throws what I am assuming is his first TD pass as a pro to TE Bubba Franks. The Packers are 2-0 in games this season when a RB throws a TD pass (RB Ahman Green threw one in Detroit last week). Dallas responds with a TD of their own, once Testaverde begins connecting up with Witten, but they can't keep up with the Packers offense. The special teams is playing much much better for the Packers this week (especially on kick coverage). Maybe the release of CB James Whitley did send a message to the team last week. Green rips off the 2nd 90+ yard TD run of his career (tying him with RB Bo Jackson on the all time list). Dallas's offense is trying but they can't keep up with the Packers. Packers 41, Dallas 13.
Fourth Quarter: NT Grady Jackson is back. He had one great play in the 1st half, but the Packers's defense is playing worse this week then they did against Detroit last week. This can only help the Packers for the rest of the season and Jackson made plays on his first game back, but his return did not show up on the scoreboard or the defensive stats (the Packers defense didn't create any turnovers either). Dallas scores another TD but this game never was in any doubt after the Packers scored 21 in the 2nd quarter. The Packers's offense eat up a bunch of time (5 minutes) in the middle of the quarter to put the game out of reach. Bad sight: OL Marco Rivera being taken off on a cart during the 4th quarter. Packers 41, Dallas 20.
The Packers have some players returning from injury, but other players getting injured. The Packers are heading to Washington next week, and Washington is struggling this season. The Packers should be favored for the first time in a couple of weeks, but Washington has an ailing offense (only Miami's trainwreck is worse) and all it might need to improve is to play the NFL's third worse defense (the Packers). Rankings courtesy of footballoutsiders.com.
At best, the Packers can only expect to finish 6-2 in the second half. The Packers need to win to keep a path towards a 10-6 season. Anything less isn't likely to make the playoffs. Unfortunately Washington has the 3rd best defense (thanks again footballoutsiders.com) and they will be a very tough challenge.