In an unbelievable rally, the visiting Packers stormed back from a 23-point halftime deficit to stun the Cowboys 37-36 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The victory keeps the Packers (7-6-1) a half-game behind the Bears (8-6) with two games left to play. It also adds to the pressure on Detroit, which hosts Baltimore on Sunday night.
From a standings standpoint, the defeat keeps Dallas (7-7) from drawing even with Philadelphia (8-6) in the NFC East.
However, this could be a setback with much greater meaning and impact for the Cowboys.
For Dallas, this marks yet another lamentable performance by its defense, which allowed five second-half TDs to Green Bay.
Also, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was intercepted on each of Dallas’ last two drives — once with Dallas holding a 36-31 lead and trying to run out the clock, and once with Dallas trying to put together a last-ditch comeback in the final minute.
On the first interception, Romo eluded pressure from the rush, then threw over the middle for Miles Austin. However, Packers cornerback Sam Shields intercepted the pass — and it’s a good thing for Green Bay that he did, for Shields was the last line of defense.
The pick gave the Packers the ball at midfield, and from there, they embarked on a seven-play march ending in Eddie Lacy’s one-yard TD run with 91 seconds left to give Green Bay the final margin of victory.
On the second play of Dallas’ ensuing drive, Romo was picked again, this time by Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, and Green Bay had secured a most memorable triumph.
Packers quarterback Matt Flynn threw for 182 yards and four touchdowns in the final two quarters, connecting with wideout Jordy Nelson (13 yards), tight end Andrew Quarless (three yards), running back James Starks (11 yards) and wideout James Jones (three yards) for scores. On three separate occasions, the Packers put together 80-yard drives ending in Flynn TD passes.
The Packers’ out-of-nowhere closing kick came after a horrid first half, one that saw the Cowboys build a 26-3 lead. The Cowboys’ offense was far too much for the Packers’ defense to handle in all areas, and the Cowboys’ defense — picked apart six days earlier at Chicago — stood up for itself, limiting Green Bay to just a 57-yard field goal.
Frankly, the Cowboys looked home free as the third quarter started. Then, on the first play of the second half, Lacy rumbled for 60 yards off left tackle. Three plays later, Flynn hit Nelson for six points. The Packers had the quick touchdown they needed.
As it turns out, they were far from finished.
Now, the attention turns to how the Cowboys respond after being caught near the wire. Thus begins a long, long week of discussion of Romo’s legacy, of the defense’s shortcomings, of what it all means to a franchise that hasn’t won a division title since 2009.
Still, with a win Sunday at Washington, Dallas will have a shot at the NFC East title no matter how Philadelphia fares against Chicago next Sunday night. If the Cowboys win the next their two games, they win the division.
First, though, they need to shake this one off.