The Dallas Cowboys trailed for much of the day, and despite tying the game twice in the fourth quarter, they were unable to hold off the Green Bay Packers’ offense. The Packers got the 34-31 win over Dallas in AT&T Stadium.
Dallas rested a number of starters for much of the Week 17 matchup against the Eagles and then had a bye during the Wild Card Round by virtue of being the top seed in the NFC. They looked a little rusty on both sides of the ball to start the game, and fell behind 21-3 by midway through the second quarter.
Once the Dallas offense got in a rhythm, the team surged back and kept the game close. Dallas added a touchdown and a field goal before the half, narrowing the Packers’ lead to 21-13.
The Cowboys’ defense was able to do something that the Packers’ recent opponents haven’t been able to do consistently — bring pressure on Aaron Rodgers. Dallas sacked Rodgers twice. Dallas also managed to pick off Rodgers, which was his first pick in eight games. That helped swing momentum in the Cowboys’ favor.
Trailing by eight points in the fourth quarter, Dak Prescott executed an 11-play, 80-yard drive, helped along by a spin move from rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott that was so amazing, it even confused Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.
A 7-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Dez Bryant brought the Cowboys within two points of the Packers, and an exceptional effort from Prescott on a successful two-point conversion attempt tied it all up with just over four minutes to play.
That meant, however, that Rodgers had plenty of time to orchestrate a win. Throughout the game, the Cowboys played undisciplined defense, and a late-game pass interference penalty on a play that would have resulted in an interception by Dallas gave the Packers the ball on the 35-yard line.
The defense forced an incompletion on third down, which set up a 56-yard Mason Crosby field goal, giving the Packers a 31-28 lead. Green Bay fans had reason to be nervous.
Mason Crosby is 0-of-4 in his career on potential game-tying or go-ahead FG from 50+ yards in the 4th/OT entering this kick— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 16, 2017
The Cowboys offense got into range for a 52-yard field goal attempt, and Dan Bailey nailed it, tying the game again 31-31.
Rodgers had one more shot, and despite a valiant effort from the Cowboys’ defense, Rodgers was able to get the Green Bay offense into field goal range. Dallas iced Crosby on his first attempt, which sailed through the uprights, but his second attempt was good from 51 yards. It secured the win for the Packers.
The Packers will travel to Atlanta and face the Falcons in the NFC Championship, and the winner will represent the conference in Super Bowl LI.