GREEN BAY, WISC. – With the most team rushing yards since 2003 the Green Bay Packers ran over the Dallas Cowboys, winning 28-7 at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon. The Packers now have sole possession of first place in the NFC North at 9-4.
The Packers biggest challenge going into the game was getting past Dallas’ fifth ranked defense especially since Green Bay has struggled on offense almost all season. The Packers’ offense got a serious upgrade when earlier that day it was announced head coach Mike McCarthy retook play calling responsibilities, as it showed during the game.
The Packers began the game with the ball and after one first down they were forced to punt to Dallas. The Cowboys began super-hot, getting down the field very quickly after a 50-yard run by running back Darren McFadden and a 10-yard pass to tight-end Jason Witten to get to the goal line. The Cowboys could not capitalize as quarterback Matt Cassel threw an interception to cornerback Sam Shields in the end zone after the ball bounced off receiver Dez Bryant’s hands.
This time the Packers took advantage and the play calling really showed on this drive with a combination of consistent power running and screen passes. Eddie Lacy out the gate powered for an 18-yard run and after Aaron Rodgers completed an 11-yard pass to receiver James Jones and two passes for a combined 21 yards to Randall Cobb. Rodgers would then complete a screen pass to Lacy who took it 24-yards to get to the shadow of the end zone. On third and goal it appeared running back James Starks crossed the goal line but it was overturned and the Packers could not punch it in on fourth and goal, so the Cowboys got the ball back on the half yard line. The Cowboys managed to prevent the safety but still went three and out to give the ball back to Green Bay. The first quarter ended with a 0-0 tie.
The Packers began the second quarter with great field position and got going behind the running of Starks with three straight runs combining for 21 yards. Rodgers then completed a 13-yard pass to Jones to get into the red zone. The first score of the game would finally occur when Starks broke free for a 13-yard run to get the touchdown and a 7-0 Packers lead. On the ensuing drive the Cowboys could not respond resulting in the ball going back to Green Bay.
The Packers again would easily get down the field, notably on third down when Rodgers took it himself for 16-yards. He would also complete a 16-yard pass to Jones and 14-yard pass to Cobb to get into the red zone once again. After a 14-yard screen pass to fullback John Kuhn, Rodgers would connect with his tight-end Richard Rodgers for a 3-yard touchdown pass to give the Packers the 14-0 lead. The first half would end with that score.
Dallas would start the second half with the ball but immediately had to punt while the Packers had to do the same on their first possession of the second half. The Cowboys would get going and really quickly as McFadden broke for a 45-yard run and their other running back Robert Turbin ran for another 22-yards. Turbin would complete the drive as he punched it in from 7-yards to cut the Cowboy’s deficit to seven. Both teams would go the rest of the third quarter scoreless and that continued into the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Packers would once again get going on a long drive with their rushing attack as Starks on two attempts ran for 19-yards. Lacy also powered for 11-yards to take the Packers into the Cowboys’ side of the field. Starks would break free for a 30-yard rushing touchdown to give the Packers a 21-7 lead late in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing drive, Dallas could not answer back turning the ball over on downs. Very quickly the Packers would put an explanation point on their big rushing game when Lacy powered for 24-yards dragging multiple Cowboys with him. Lacy himself would finish the drive when he punched it in from one-yard to give the Packers a 28-7 lead and hammered the last nail into the Cowboys’ coffin.
With Mike McCarthy once again calling plays, the Packers had one of their most impressive offensive performances of the last month and a half, while still being consistent defensively. Lacy finished the game with 124-yards rushing and a touchdown while Starks picked up 71 yards and a touchdown giving the Packers their best rushing performance since 2003 against Denver. Aaron Rodgers also had an impressive game passing for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
The Packers look to continue finishing the season hot when they travel to Oakland to play the Raiders. The Cowboys will head back home to Dallas to play the New York Jets.