4:21 PM: A few quick-hit postgame thoughts:
-Green Bay cannot afford to be that inconsistent on offense if they want to beat Seattle. Seattle’s D is one of the best, and they will eat the Packers for lunch if they don’t come out firing. Their offense probably isn’t any better than the Cowboys’ though, so if the Packers’ D can stand up, they’ve got a chance as long as the offense is clicking.
-Speaking of defense, Green Bay’s D played well when it needed to. Great pressure on Tony Romo on the final drive necessitatated the pass to Dez Bryant that was overturned.
-Jordy Nelson wasn’t much of a factor in this game, with only 2 catches for 22 yards. But that had as much to do with Aaron Rodgers misfiring him as anything else. Rodgers will have to have better accuracy next week too.
-Eddie Lacy’s 19 carries for 101 yards (and a 5.3 average) was the best performance that nobody’s talking about of the game.
-Dallas has nothing to hang their heads about. They played a good game, especially on offense. They just made a few errors late that ended up being costly. DeMarco Murray is a special player that I hope doesn’t wear down too fast from overuse. But it’s easy to see why the Cowboys overuse him.
Thanks to everyone who followed my live blog! See you next time!
4:10 PM: And Green Bay comes out in the victory formation. This one’s over folks. Final score: Packers 26, Cowboys 21
4:08 PM: What a catch from Randall Cobb!! That should enable Green Bay to run out the clock and win the game.
4:00 PM: Is Davante Adams Green Bay’s MVP in this game? He might just be.
3:58 PM: Well, looks like the ball squeaked out of Bryant’s hands after he hit the ground. It looks like they got the call right, but it really looked like he caught it initially. The Packers’ task here: Run. The. Ball. Get some first downs and get out of here with a win.
3:56 PM: I think Jason Garrett should’ve gone for it on fourth down here. As you can tell from some of what I’ve said today, I generally think NFL coaches are far too conservative with playcalling. And it works out as Sam Shields can’t knock the Dez Bryant pass down. Not sure I understand the challenge from Packers coach Mike McCarthy. That looked pretty clearly like a completed catch.
3:51 PM: Dallas ain’t giving up here. Passing and running games clicking. So much for their reputation for choking in big games.
3:49 PM: Crucial possession for both teams coming up.
3:45 PM: Bang, bang, bang! Good dart to Richard “The Other” Rodgers. Good choice to go for two this time, even though it didn’t work out. Packers 26, Cowboys 21
3:42 PM: The Packers’ offense has been maddeningly inconsistent for most of this game, but they appear to be firing on all cylinders now.
3:35 PM: Great pressure on Tony Romo on that drive by Green Bay. The coverage must have been good if Romo had no choice but to dump it off on the screen pass. Bad choice when you need 23 for the first down. Your punter could’ve easily kicked that into the end zone even if you took a shot downfield and it didn’t work.
3:32 PM: If I’m a Cowboys fan, I’m loving the game Jason Witten is having. He’s easily been their most dangerous receiver today.
3:31 PM: Once again I disagree with the announcers. GB should’ve gone for two. Being down 21-19 isn’t much different than being down 21-20.
3:27 PM: Dallas probably made the right move there, laying back in coverage given Rodgers’s accuracy issues. But they didn’t take Davante Adams’s elusiveness into account. Great play. Cowboys 21, Packers 20
3:24 PM: Now this is the offense Packer fans are used to seeing. Looks like Dallas got away with pass interference on Jordy Nelson. It looked like he prevented Jordy Nelson from catching a catchable pass.
3:14 PM: The TJ Lang penalty is proving costly for Green Bay. Dallas ran a very successful drive there, and now is ahead by two possessions heading into the end of the 3rd quarter. It would be 21-17 if not for that penalty, which would’ve been much easier to manage. Cowboys 21, Packers 13
3:11 PM: Amazing that Dez Bryant has only been targeted twice in this game.
3:09 PM: Those Dallas fans wearing cheeseheads painted blue are hilarious.
3:07 PM: Green Bay’s defense absolutely needs to stand up here if they want to have a chance. They need to prevent Dallas from retaking the momentum and give Aaron Rodgers a chance to retake the lead for them.
3:06 PM: It appears TJ Lang laid that hit after the whistle. It didn’t look like the play was over, but it’s not like anyone watching on TV could hear the whistle, so I guess we’ll have to take the refs’ word for it. Mason Crosby drills the easy field goal and it’s a one-point game. Cowboys 14, Packers 13
3:02 PM: I described Eddie Lacy as a “bruising” back earlier, but I didn’t mean to imply that he was slow, as he shows some motor on that play. Also love GB’s chant whenever John Kuhn gets the ball. The KUUUUUUUHHHHHNNNNNNN sound from the crowd always deceptively sounds like a boo when you first hear it.
3:00 PM: And the Packers get a great strip and recovery from Julius Peppers! Great play that may result in a momentum shift. The Cowboys had drawn off the secondary, so Murray would’ve had a touchdown but for that play.
2:59 PM: Hmm, one angle makes it looks like it grazed his hand from some angles. Not indisputable though, so it was probably the right call to hold up the penalty.
2:56 PM: The threshold for overturning a call on replay is that there has to be “indisputable video evidence” that a call was made incorrectly. I’m not sure that’s true here, but that could change once I see the replays.
2:55 PM: Can’t do that, Tramon Williams. You need to be looking for the ball, not the jersey. Clear pass interference call. Now if Julius Peppers indeed tipped it, all bets are off.
2:47 PM: The one good point about settling for a field goal last drive for Green Bay: they get the ball in the second half, so they can still take the lead.
2:32 PM: GB kicker Mason Crosby has come a long way from 3-4 years ago, when many Packer fans wanted the team to dump him because he seemed to lack the mental toughness to succeed as an NFL kicker. Now he’s much more reliable, even from distance as he drills the no-doubt 40-yard FG to pull the Pack to within 4. I’ll see you after halftime. Cowboys 14, Packers 10
2:29 PM: Wonderful body control and awareness from Randall Cobb on that long pass play to catch the ball in bounds and get out to stop the clock. Though I wish they’d have taken a shot at the end zone instead of running to get the field goal closer. Mason Crosby could’ve made it from 45 or 40 yards, I don’t know how much of a difference that makes.
2:25 PM: Honestly, I disagree with the announcers there. That ball looked like it bounced off the ground before the receiver secured it. But maybe it bounced off his arm. I’ll take it if it holds up, though 🙂
2:20 PM: Not sure why Dallas didn’t choose to go to Murray on that play. He’s been pretty automatic for first downs in that situation. Funny how a lot of the same things keep happening to each team… both QBs have a fumble, a misplayed snap, and both teams have surrendered one first down because of penalties. Stay tuned to see if Terrence Williams will continue playing. That could be a blow if he’s out.
2:16 PM: Green Bay’s defense is failing them at the absolute worst time possible. A one-TD halftime deficit would be manageable, but a two-TD lead, with the way they’re playing, will be just about intractable unless they step it up.
2:09 PM: And to that point, Dallas’s offense is opening up and running more efficiently. Romo’s spreading the ball out to different receivers, and DeMarco Murray is consistently grabbing 4-6 yards on plays.
2:01 PM: I think Aaron Rodgers’s calf is affecting him more than anyone realizes. He’s unable to scramble, which we saw coming, but he’s also missing many open receivers, sometimes badly. Throw Dallas’s D into the mix and their offense, which typically runs like a well-oiled machine, is running into trouble.
1:55 PM: Wideout Terrence Williams sheds some tackles and shows some elusiveness in the open field. Dallas takes advantage of the Packer turnover and takes the lead. This is also the first time since the home opener that the Packers have trailed at Lambeau. Cowboys 14, Packers 7
1:54 PM: This Cole Beasley kid is pretty impressive. I wasn’t really aware of him before this game, but that’s his second straight play where he’s displayed breakaway speed.
1:50 PM: Rookie mistake from center Corey Lindsley. Luckily, it didn’t happen in their own territory, so Dallas doesn’t have a super-short field. But a costly mistake getting no points on that drive that could come back to haunt the Packers.
1:46 PM: Good, I was getting worried about Aaron Rodgers’s accuracy. Nice strike to Cobb there. Also, it’s Dallas’s turn to commit dumb penalties on this drive, with one giving GB a first down and another giving them a second chance on third down.
1:38 PM: An underrated aspect of the Packers’ running game is James Starks. He played a key role in Green Bay’s latest Super Bowl win, and while he never proved himself to be a good first option, he’s a nice speedy change of pace behind the brusing Eddie Lacy.
1:32 PM: I do not like that pass interference call. I think there’s a chance Terrence Williams flopped on that play, as he goes down with barely any contact, which appeared incidental to me. I don’t see their legs getting tangled like the announcers are talking about either. Regardless, Romo to Clutts for a TD. Packers 7, Cowboys 7
1:29 PM: The Cowboys are getting more consistent on offense now, and it’s got them knocking on the door of their first points.
1:25 PM: Nice play there from Tony Romo. He’s not known for his speed, but he got a good chunk of yards behind some stellar blocking from his line. Could’ve probably hit Dez Bryant on that play, though, as he was in single coverage.
1:21 PM: Dallas’s first two drives are unfolding as I predicted. DeMarco Murray is getting his yards, but the passing game isn’t clicking. That’s a losing formula, but if GB commits any more dumb penalties, it may not matter.
1:14 PM: Looks like Aaron Rodgers’s calf is holding up as he scrambles out of the pocket. Good decision to throw the strike to tight end Andrew Quarless rather than run it in. Packers 7, Cowboys 0
1:11 PM: If Dallas’s run D keeps playing like this, they’re screwed.
1:10 PM: The back-shoulder throw has become much more popular in recent years in the NFL. The placement of it makes it impossible for a defender to reach if it’s done right, as the receiver can simply turn around and catch it at the shoulder facing away from the defender. Rodgers and Nelson execute it perfectly, and Eddie Lacy follows it up with some great runs.
1:08 PM: Good, solid 3-and-out for the GB defense. They needed that to get their confidence up. What did I say about opportunistic D? Also, now Rodgers gets good field position to score.
1:02 PM: Welcome to The Jam’s second live blog! Today I’ll be covering my Green Bay Packers as we take on the Dallas Cowboys for the right to face the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. We’re a few minutes from kickoff, so I thought I’d pen some quick pregame thoughts. Here are the keys to the game as I see it:
Green Bay Packers:
–For the love of God, protect Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is playing on a partially torn calf muscle that he aggravated during Green Bay’s last game, a win over Detroit that clinched the first-round playoff bye for them. Any Packer fan who suffered through last season’s 8-7-1 debacle knows how much of a drop-off it is for our offense when Aaron is hurt. Luckily, the Pack’s line has improved throughout the year, so they should be up to the task.
-Contain Tony Romo and Dez Bryant: Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray will likely get his yards against GB’s 23rd-ranked rush defense. But if the Packers defense can make the Cowboys one-dimensional, they can shut them down. They have some good disruptive cornerbacks in Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, and Casey Heyward. Time to use them. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers need to pressure quarterback Tony Romo into some mistakes, which he is vulnerable to.
-Don’t overthink the offense: Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t feel that he needs to scramble as much as usual due to the calf injury. He is surrounded by offensive weapons, including running back Eddie Lacy and wideouts Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jarrett Boykin. Let them carry the team; they’ve proven they can. Hell, even fullback John Kuhn has been a nifty goal-line runner.
-Exploit the Pack’s safeties: One of the reasons Packers fans fear facing the Seattle Seahawks again is that their speedy receivers torched the Green Bay secondary. Their corners are good but can be beaten, and their safeties are green (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) and average (Morgan Burnett). If they can get receivers Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten open deep, they’ve got a chance. Witten can also victimize the Packers over the middle as long as he stays away from Clay Matthews.
-Make at least one receiver a non-factor: One of the reasons Aaron Rodgers is so successful is his amazing receiving corps, which he makes better. If Dallas can neutralize either Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb, they force GB to beat them in other ways. It will be tough for their 26th-ranked pass defense, but it will give them an advantage if they can do it.
-Win the field-position game: Green Bay’s defense is opportunisitic and is capable of generating turnovers, which give their deadly offense a short field. If Dallas can take away this advantage, they have a good shot to come away with the victory, as the Packers sometimes struggle with a longer field.