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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Aaron Rodgers is far from the Cowboys’ scariest issue after OT loss


The famous horror movie is called “A Nightmare On Elm Street,” but what if the nightmare happened on Mike McCarthy Way?  The Cowboys head coach famously has a stretch of street named after him, a mere two blocks from the turf of Lambeau Field, as a nod to the championship he delivered to Green Bay. It was only fitting then, that after so many years of terrorizing opponents with Aaron Rodgers, McCarthy got a taste for the horror of watching a late lead slip away at his old quarterback’s hands. “We wanted to get it for Mike, and it sucks — we didn’t,” said Dak Prescott. “That’s that. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, there’s nothing else to add on.” 

David Helman and Carmen Vitali break down the Green Bay Packers’ overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys

David Helman and Carmen Vitali react to the Green Bay Packers’ overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys on Mike McCarthy’s homecoming.

The joke all week was that Rodgers and the Packers, left for dead due to a five-game losing streak, would find a way to rally against their old nemeses, the Dallas Cowboys. Even knowing that it was on the table, it was amazing to see them do exactly that. Behind a productive rushing offense and a career day from CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys had multiple opportunities to slay this demon. They had the chance midway through the second quarter when a strip-sack in the Green Bay red zone gave them a chance to take control. They had the chance an hour later, when back-to-back third-quarter scoring drives put them ahead, 28-14, moving into the game’s final stanza.

Much like their slasher movie counterparts, the Packers kept coming — plodding along, never falling too far behind. And if it felt like the Cowboys should have escaped them at some point, it’s because they should have. Entering Sunday, Dallas was 195-0 all-time when holding a 14-point lead after three quarters.

“Credit to them,” Prescott said. “They stopped us a couple times, gave their offense a chance and those guys went and scored and made it go into overtime.”

Speaking of overtime, the Cowboys’ lone possession in the extra period will haunt them. They were flagged twice while driving to either lead or win the game, negating gains of nine and 16. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, Prescott’s third-and-3 pass attempt from the edge of field-goal range fell incomplete despite some fairly obvious contact between Jaire Alexander and Lamb. Ultimately opting to go for it on fourth down, they couldn’t convert — setting the stage for the Packers to drive for a walk-off field goal.

“I thought we were in total control in overtime, and obviously the penalties and those things are very, very, very frustrating,” McCarthy said. “But you’ve got to overcome those things.”

Allen Lazard makes a CLUTCH reception in OT

Allen Lazard’s clutch reception helped Mason Crosby get in position for the game-winning field goal for the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys.

Rodgers will get the lion’s share of the credit for playing boogeyman to the Cowboys’ terrified camp counselor, and that makes sense. The win improves him to 8-2 as a starter against the Cowboys, with half of those wins coming in dramatic fashion. After one of the most forgettable starts to a season in his NFL career, he hung a 146.7 passer rating on the Dallas defense, highlighted by three touchdown passes to breakout rookie Christian Watson.

“A lot of demons were exorcised tonight,” Rodgers said.

The scariest part of the Cowboys’ night, though, has a lot less to do with Rodgers and a lot more to do with their effort against the run. The Packers are slowly finding themselves as a run-first offense, and they pounded the Cowboys to the tune of 207 rushing yards, with Aaron Jones averaging nearly six yards per carry while A.J. Dillon checked in at a healthy five. If it wasn’t a trend before, it certainly is now. Green Bay is now the second straight opponent to run for 200+ yards on the Cowboys, and the fifth overall to run for at least 136.

It’s a situation Micah Parsons described as a “fire in the house,” and it’s a problem that’s only going to get bigger until the Cowboys douse it. “We have to put this out,” Parsons said. “We have to be accountable, we have to stay in our gaps, we’ve got to stop the run. And then, once we stop it, we can go back to being who we are. But until we do that, it’s going to be a long year.”

‘The biggest thing to remember is, we’re not dead’ — Aaron Rodgers on Packers’ comeback win vs. Cowboys

Tom Rinaldi talks to Aaron Rodgers about the big win at home against the Dallas Cowboys, bouncing back after a rough couple weeks and how they can use this game to fuel them moving forward.

At the very least, it could be a long few weeks. Next up are the red-hot Minnesota Vikings and Dalvin Cook, who beat Buffalo Sunday, followed by a Thanksgiving game against Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants. If the Cowboys haven’t cleaned up their act by then, they get a game against Indianapolis and Jonathan Taylor, who broke loose to the tune of 147 yards on Sunday. “Them three right there is, what, the top three backs in the league? If not the top three, then top five,” said Malik Hooker. “That’s definitely a fire we’ve got to work on.”

Bad things happen when the Cowboys play Aaron Rodgers. As Prescott reminded everyone, it’s only one loss despite the disappointment. But as this most recent nightmare reminded, there are bigger problems that need correcting if they’re going to awake from it.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter @davidhelman_.

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