Monday, December 16, 2013

Unbelievable: Packers Rally From 23 Down, Beat Cowboys 37-36

The box score makes the game look like a close one point win by the Green Bay Packers over the Cowboys. They had similar numbers in first downs (Packers 26, Cowboys 27), total yards (433 to 466), yards per play (6.4 to 6.8), and penalties (7 for 59 yards, 7 for 79). The +1 edge in turnover margin is the only stat that really stands out. While that turnover was huge, obviously this was never a close game. It was a first half dominated by the Cowboys and then it was surprisingly dominated by the Packers in the second.

The first half looked like a repeat of the Packers' Thanksgiving loss to the Lions. Other than on their first drive of 41 yards that went for a field goal, QB Matt Flynn did nothing in the first half. He missed wide open receivers and his interception was thrown into coverage with no receiver nearby. The defense was as bad as ever, allowing six scoring drives in the first half and multiple big plays, but they did stop the Cowboys on third down and forced them to settle for field goals. That didn't seem like a big deal when they were getting killed in the first half, but it helped them in the end.

I never turn off a Packer game when I'm watching, but I'd mentally written this game off after Flynn's interception with 4:38 left in the second quarter. He couldn't do anything on offense, the run defense was in shambles, and the safeties couldn't cover anybody. Teams don't come back from 23 point halftime deficits.
Obviously a lot changed in the second half. LB Jamari Lattimore inspired the troops in the locker room and on the very first play RB Eddie Lacy went flying off left tackle for 60 yards. Flynn wasn't a whole lot more accurate, WR Jordy Nelson had to pick an underthrown pass off a defender's back for a touchdown, but he had more time to throw because of better pass protection and he did find TE Andrew Quarless for five completions and one touchdown. I mention Quarless specifically because the Cowboys lost two of their starting linebackers (journeymen Justin Durant and Ernie Sims) at halftime due to injuries. Neither one is very good, both have been cast off by the Lions in recent years, but their absence helps explain why Lacy was able to start off the third quarter with a big run and why Quarless became a threat as a receiver. The middle of the field started to open up.

The offense ended up scoring a touchdown on their first five possessions of the second half (the last possession was a kneel down). The comeback would have never started if it weren't for the offense. But the defense didn't come out after halftime with the same turnaround.

The Cowboys offense did score on two of their first three possessions of the second half. The one punt in between happened after a well designed delayed blitz by LB Clay Matthews pinned Dallas deep, and led to a short punt that CB Micah Hyde returned to the Cowboys' 22 yard line. Until there was only three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Packers' defense rarely stopped the Cowboys' offense. Maybe Dallas should have run it more, but it didn't seem to matter when the Packers couldn't stop their passing attack either. But two amazing plays on the ball, first the interception by CB Sam Shields at mid-field with just under three minutes remaining and then the pick by CB Tramon Williams a couple minutes later, were when the defense finally got into the comeback effort. Those were great plays by both of them, but they were also poor throws by Romo.

It's something I never expected at halftime but the Packers can still be in control of their own playoff destiny if the Ravens beat the Lions on Monday night. Go Ravens!


PackFaninFl said...

One of those magical games.

What in the world can this team do in the playoffs? If they get Rodgers and Cobb back, can that be enough to challenge the big two of Seattle and San Fran.

This season has become one of wilder, zaniest roller-coasters I've been on. And I love it! lol

Jack Niemuth said...

I think they could con

Jack Niemuth said...

*compete with those two

PackFaninFl said...

Wow, and Detroit LOST!!! YouR vision is coming into fruition!

I have to tell you, I was thinking after the T-giving loss to Detroit that it was their year.

And I "entertained" the validity of shutting down Rodgers.

Boy was I wrong about this team.

I'm with you, if we can get HOT with Rodgers and Cobb back, I give us a punchers chance against SEA and SF.