Green Bay Wakes Up, Wins, 17-7
A sleeping giant awoke from its slumber last Sunday afternoon, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Green Bay. Once thought to be a major player in the NFC, the Packers were cruising along at .500, and desperately needed a victory.
No problem, as they came out and gave their best effort of the season, thumping the high-flying Dallas Cowboys, 17-7, at Lambeau Field.
For a time it seemed neither wanted to win, but it took some heroics from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who completed 25 of 36 attempts for 189 yards with one touchdown, and running back Ryan Grant, who added 79 yards on 19 rushes.
Rodgers toiled at California in the Pacific 10 Conference, and was highly touted. Rodgers replaced the hugely popular Brett Favre, is in his second full season at the helm, and scored on a one-yard dive with 13:14 showing in the fourth quarter.
His play capped an 80-yard, 15-play drive, and put the Cowboys (6-3) in a 10-0 deficit.
Rodgers frequently went to wide receivers Donald Driver (50 yards and four catches), Greg Jennings (45 yards and four receptions), and Jordy Nelson (32 yards and four catches).
The Cowboys were riding a four-game winning streak, and gave their worst performance, scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Tony Romo found wide receiver Roy Williams with a nine-yard pass.
Venerable cornerback Charles Woodson played like a young pup, intercepting Romo at the Green Bay one-yard line.
That was Woodson’s 41st career pick, 24th as a Packer, and is a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate when he retires.
To add salt to the Cowboys’ wounds, Woodson paced Green Bay (5-4) with nine tackles, two forced fumbles, and a sack.
Romo (24 of 39 passes for 251 yards) was sacked by Woodson, and fumbled, with one-time USC star linebacker Clay Matthews recovering deep in Dallas territory.
Promptly, Rodgers turned the mistake into a two-yard scoring pass to former UCLA product and current tight end Spencer Havner with 10:49 left in the fourth quarter, making it 17-0.
Neither did much in the first quarter, with Dallas’ Nick Folk missing a 38-yard field goal on the game’s opening possession, and Green Bay’s Mason Crosby failing to make a 52-yard field goal.
Crosby turned in a 48-yard field goal just as the half ended. At this point, the Cowboys, who came in averaging more than 400 total yards, had 111 yards.
The problem for the Cowboys was that they couldn’t convert on third down, making three of 12, and amassing 278 total yards.
A scoreless third quarter was made a distant memory as each scored in the final stanza, with the Packers adding a pair of touchdowns.
But it was Green Bay’s defense that impressed, sacking Romo five times, and picking him off once.
Romo’s longest pass went to Williams late in the second quarter, and covered 41 yards. However, Williams (five catches for 105 yards) fumbled the ball, dashing any hope that Dallas would take the lead.
Wide receiver Patrick Crayton grabbed four passes for 52 yards, and tight end Jason Witten snared five catches for 47 yards.
The Cowboys were putrid running the ball, totaling 61 yards, as Marion Barber led the way with 26 yards on five carries, and Romo adding 16 yards.
This was long overdue.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.