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Refs penalize Cowboys for barely touching Aaron Rodgers

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12 plays later, Rodgers threw a lead-changing touchdown pass.

The Cowboys appeared to have the Packers pinned deep in their own territory in the third quarter of Sunday’s long-awaited showdown when Demarcus Lawrence grabbed hold of Aaron Rodgers leg at the two-yard line. Instead, Green Bay wound up with a 15-yard gift from the officials.

Defensive end Benson Mayowa ran in to assist with the potential sack and made contact with Rodgers a split second after he ditched the ball toward the right sideline. The referee Terry McAulay, deeming the play egregious, slapped him with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

The penalty moved the Packers out of the shadow of their own end zone and jump-started a Green Bay drive that pushed into Dallas territory. Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett was, let’s say, displeased with the call.

What this means for the Packers: Opponents know not to give Aaron Rodgers any second chances — and this questionable call gave him the latitude to push the Pack deep into Cowboy territory. 12 plays after the penalty moved the Pack out of its own red zone, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson in the end zone to give Green bay its first lead of the game.