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.
That is by 23+ points RT @SandoESPN: NFL teams were 424-5 since 2001 (counting playoffs) when leading by 23 points in the 3rd qtr. #CowboysObviously 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.
— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) December 16, 2013
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!