Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 37, Cowboys 36

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Andrew Quarless (81) and Eddie Lacy (27) turned in big games for the Packers against the Dallas Cowboys, and in the process, may have saved Green Bay's season.
Andrew Quarless (81) and Eddie Lacy (27) turned in big games for the Packers against the Dallas Cowboys, and in the process, may have saved Green Bay’s season.

Last week, it looked like the Green Bay Packers may have saved their season with a 22-21 win over the Atlanta Falcons. They were 6-6-1 with three games to play, and Aaron Rodgers appeared to be on the verge of returning to the lineup.

Rodgers didn’t play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, but that didn’t stop Matt Flynn from leading a dramatic second-half comeback, which, in the process, may have saved the Packers’ season. They’re still breathing.

Despite last week’s win, much was made of the “boo birds” amongst Packers fans just before halftime against the Falcons. Had this week’s game been played at Lambeau Field, the boo birds likely would have returned as the Packers trailed by 23 points at the break. But the team recharged its batteries for the second half and kept its head above water with two winnable games to play and a division championship on the line.

For the Packers, the first 30 minutes against the Cowboys were ugly.

But the second half was so very different.

For all the things that have went wrong for the Packers this season, a lot of things went their way in the final 30 minutes. And when push came to shove, the Packers Chicago Bear’d the Dallas Cowboys with timely turnovers and out-of-nowhere explosive plays. A lot of football has yet to be played, as the Packers (7-6-1) try and play catch up to the Bears (8-6) and Lions (7-6) for first place in the NFC North, but hope still remains in Green Bay.

Super Bowl XLVIII is still a month and a half way, and the Packers certainly don’t appear to be the class of the NFC at this point, but there’s a 2010 feeling to this team, isn’t there? A week 15 matchup in Dallas (where the Packers won Super Bowl XLV), a week 16 game against Pittsburgh (whom they beat in Super Bowl XLV) and a regular-season finale against the Bears (whom they beat to clinch a playoff spot in 2010 and again in the NFC Championship) brings back memories of the Packers’ last hardware-winning season.

Two games remain on the 2013 schedule. And the Packers are still alive.

Game Balls

Matt Flynn’s second half

After a turbulent first half, Flynn came out and led the Packers to 34 points in the final 30 minutes of action. For the second consecutive week, the Packers emerged victorious with a one-point win, due in large part to the play of their backup quarterback. After missing several open receivers in the first half, many (myself included) called for a Scott Tolzien appearance in the second half, but coach McCarthy stuck with Flynn and received four second-half touchdowns in return. Flynn may have locked himself into a long-term job in Green Bay with this performance.

Eddie Lacy

What more can be said about this year’s NFL Rookie of the Year? And yes, Lacy will be named Rookie of the Year. Dallas continually stacked the box to stop the run, but much like the Nov. 4 game against the Chicago Bears, Lacy was able to gash the defense and power the Packers offense to a win. Lacy totaled 171 yards and a touchdown on 25 touches, despite a non-existent passing game in the first half. Chargers receiver Keenan Allen and Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (my guy) have been great, but Lacy has been the best offensive rookie in football this season.

Tramon Williams

Just as everyone always says: In Matt Flynn and Tramon Williams we trust. Williams had a near interception earlier in the fourth quarter before the play was overturned and Dez Bryant caught what looked like the game-clinching touchdown on the same drive. But Williams came back and intercepted Tony Romo on the Cowboys’ final possession to clinch the game for the Packers. Not only did Williams shake off some early struggles against Dez Bryant, but he was physical at the line of scrimmage and came up with perhaps the biggest play of the game. His 2014 roster spot may be in jeopardy, and he’s certainly playing like it.

Sam Shields

Like Williams, Shields struggled when matched up against Bryant. But when push came to shove and Shields had the chance to intercept Romo and extend the Packers’ season, he did exactly that. Clay Matthews got the pressure on Romo, but Shields stepped in front of Romo’s pass and made the play. Green Bay’s corners in the second half wore the same jersey number and last name as their first-half corners, but they looked like completely different players. Shields and Williams came to play in the final 30 minutes.

Jordy Nelson

Despite blanket coverage, Nelson was able to get going in the second half for the Packers. His touchdown was simply an example of being a man amongst boys, and his one-handed first-down catch later was yet another example of the same thing. Nelson has been an absolute monster for the Packers all season, and if Rodgers is able to return for the remainder of the season, he’ll continue to dominate defenses as long as the Packers’ clock is ticking.

Lame Calls

Matt Flynn’s first half

It was ugly. Flynn constantly locked onto his first option, couldn’t make a read and failed to lead a Packers offense that was stuck in the mud in the first half. One play in particular, Flynn’s third-down incompletion to Lacy in the flat, highlighted his performance early in the game. He had tight end Andrew Quarless running wide open towards the sideline for what would have been an easy 30 yards and perhaps a touchdown, but Flynn was hurried and locked onto Lacy. Time after time, Flynn made the wrong read and looked flustered against a porous Dallas defense. Fortunately for the Packers, Flynn had another 30 minutes to play.

Mike Neal’s offsides/False start no-call

Yes, Neal moved before the ball was snapped, but right tackle Doug Free clearly flinched as well. And just as Joe Buck and Troy Aikman alluded to, officials rarely miss a blatant false start like that. This weekly post is titled “Game Balls and Lame Calls,” and while game balls are handed out relatively easily, it’s not always clear who or what is deserving of a lame call. Neal’s offsides penalty was a lame call.

Tramon Williams’ penalty/Dez Bryant no-call

After Williams made minimal contact with Bryant in the second quarter, the officials blew a Bryant push-off a couple plays later. It was pretty obvious. Again, the definition of a “lame call” isn’t always clear, but this was a lame call and no-call. Really lame.

Cowboys’ play calling

Remember when Jason Garrett’s play calling was the problem? Yeah, well Bill Callahan’s isn’t much better, is it? The Cowboys led 26-3 at halftime, and Romo threw 48 passes–that doesn’t make any sense. At all. Dan Patrick said after the game that Romo’s interception to Sam Shields was the result of Romo checking off at the line of scrimmage. If that’s the case, Romo is certainly deserving of some blame. But regardless of who is at fault for the Cowboys’ second-half collapse, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Clearly, either Romo, Garrett or Callahan was playing against DeMarco Murray in fantasy football.

Side Note

Mike McCarthy is not going to Texas. Or anywhere.

Come on, people. McCarthy is the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. It’s probably the most prestigious job in the NFL. It could be the most sought-after position in football. It may be the best job in sports. Without question, the head coaching job at Texas is an attractive opening for anyone in the profession, but there’s no way McCarthy is leaving his current job for a college position–Texas or not. Yeah, he’d have an appetizing menu of in-state quarterbacks and athletes to pick from if he were head coach at Texas, but he’s got the best quarterback in the business in Green Bay. There’s no story here. Move on.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    One of the most amazing games I’ve seen in some time. Gotta give a game ball to Quarless. The last two weeks he’s made 12 catches for 132 yards, 2 TD’s and I’m not sure how many 1st downs. Thumbs up to which ever Defensive Coach FINALLY took M.D. Jennings off the field, after Dez Bryant’s catch for a TD to put the Cowboys up by 12 again in 4th quarter. I’d rather see what Richardson has and go through some growing pains, than go with a guy that’s been a starter for 2 years moreless, who becomes more clueless by the week. Game ball to Matthews as well. He forced Romo to run towards Datone Jones for a sack, and forced the throw by Romo the Shields picked off causing Troy Aikman to say “Are you kidding me”. Aikman was obviously pissed at the result of Shields great INT.

    • Sven

      I didn’t get the feeling that Aikman was rooting for the Cowboys. I thought he sounded more like a Packer fan, Maybe he and Jerry have issues. In fact, I was very happy with he, Troy and Pam. They did a great job on this game.

      I think they are the best team of announcers, right now. For awhile I was too big on them but the other announcers don’t match up.

  • Savage57

    Is this the watershed moment where the Packers adversity train is finally derailed?

    I know it’s hard to get too optimistic over two one-point wins, but the manner in which they’ve occurred is what’s notable. In two consecutive weeks, needing a stop to seal a win, the often porous, often maligned defense has risen to the occasion. So in my mind the entire defense gets a game ball.

    And as much as people are clamoring about the Cowboys ‘meltdown’, how about a little credit and acknowledgment that the Packers offense just took them to the woodshed in the 2nd half? A lot of the credit for that goes to the offensive line opening the holes for Lacy and giving Flynn the time in the pocket to either wait for his first option to come open, or to go to his 2nd or 3rd option. Game ball to the big uglies.

    Will the Packers season turn on this game? Will the return of AR fortify the rest of the team’s belief that they’ve come out of the desert and that survival is a real possibility?

    Both the Steelers and the Bears will be playing for the same stakes as the Packers – their playoff lives. I don’t have any clue how this might play out, but based on what I’ve seen in terms of this team’s sand over the last couple of weeks, I sure am looking forward to it with more hope than I had on Thanksgiving.

    • Dobber

      “Is this the watershed moment where the Packers adversity train is finally derailed?”

      This was certainly the kind of win that can springboard a team and getting AR back could boost that momentum even more. It might be a little premature to say that this team has shades of 2010 to it, though.

      “Both the Steelers and the Bears will be playing for the same stakes as the Packers – their playoff lives.”

      Pittsburgh looked pretty good on their own field for a half last night, but their playoff chances might already be done by the time the Packers kickoff on Sunday. A Baltimore win tonight would benefit the Packers in many ways, and a Miami win over Buffalo in the early game next week would eliminate them.

      • Barutan Seijin

        Baltimore up by 2 with 38 seconds left…

        • Barutan Seijin

          Stafford with INT no. 3. There’s your dagger. Packers in control of their own playoff destiny.

          61 yard FG for Tucker to win it.

  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    David Bakhtiari should get a game ball as well. He made Ware a total, one of the best Defensive Ends in the NFL a non factor the entire game.

    • Barutan Seijin

      Ware has been invisible all year.

      • http://allpackers.com NICK PERRY

        He’s still a rookie playing against one of the best defensive ends in the game for the past several years.

  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    Oops, Bakhtiari made Ware a non factor the entire game.

  • JH9

    When AR went down against the Bears, I was hoping to see the team (especially the defense) step-up and show themselves to have championship character. Unfortunately they didn’t. I, along with everyone else waited some six games to see this team rise to the occasion and show us they were made of the kind of stuff that wins Super Bowls.

    I don’t know if they will win the Super Bowl this year, but I finally saw in the second half of the Dallas game the kind of heart champions are made of. Regardless of what happens the rest of this year, I’m proud of this team and the way it fought back when they were in a impossible situation. I’m proud to be a Packers fan.

  • A_Lerxst_in_Packerland

    I’d give a game ball to Mason Crosby as well. What a turn-around for him after last year! Guy has been clutch, and that 57 yarder was an absolute thing of beauty – straight, high, and long.

    If the team I saw in the 2nd half the last 2 games would show up for a full 60 minutes, with Aaron back under center, watch out!

    • Dobber

      “and that 57 yarder was an absolute thing of beauty – straight, high, and long.”

      …that’s what SHE said…

      • Dobber

        Oh, come on! It’s not like we weren’t all thinking this one…

      • Mojo

        I knew that was coming.

        Wait – “I knew that was coming” – That’s what she said. This will never end.

    • Savage57

      Looked like it would have been good from 67 out.

  • Archie

    Finally, for two quarters, the whole Packer team played with passion. Well, all except for Raji. But we know he an Finley are on the first train out of town.

    Does this mean TT/MM aren’t ass-clowns? certainly not.

    (1) there was the first half – the worse defense in the league made us look pathetic;

    (2) play-calling by Dallas was terrible. Had they run the ball another 10 to 15 times with a big lead, the comeback never happens.

    (3) Tony Romo in DEC pressure situations – folds like a top.

    (4) worse defense in the league couldn’t slow down Matt Flynn – nuff said.

    Good side of victory is with a loss tonight by DET, our fate will be in our hands and AROD wil be back. Something tells me close but no cigar this year. Just good enough to sink our draft position into 20s.

    • Dobber

      “Had they run the ball another 10 to 15 times with a big lead, the comeback never happens.”

      I don’t understand why teams stop running the ball against the Packers…ever.

      Course, the way the first half went, with Bryant running free and Witten breaking tackles (making Shields look like a tetherball on the TD), who would’ve thought it would matter what Dallas called.

      In the first half, Dallas could do anything it wanted on offense except inside the 20. If they’d turned even one of those first-half FG into a TD, that might have been all they needed to escape with a win.

  • Dobber

    “Clay Matthews got the pressure on Romo, but Shields stepped in front of Romo’s pass and made the play.”

    Shields made a great play on that, but Miles Austin showed he’s got no burst anymore. If Romo leads Austin just a little bit more, that was a big play and maybe a game-clinching TD for Dallas and nobody would be talking about Romo’s troubles or the lousy play-calling. Not to belittle Shields’ play, though. Game-changing play by the defense all-around.

    • Palmer Cottrell

      Most of the time Mathews never got off his block. He looked ineffective. I would not crow about his effort. He was outmatched.

  • Steve Cheez

    Yeah, the ‘girls really pissed the bed by not running the ball. For most of the second half, if we held them to five yards on a handoff it was a victory for us. Guess they just outsmarted themselves.
    Another thing not really getting much attention, but how about holding them to FGs four times in the first half. If Dallas gets two or even one TD out of those drives the game would have been over.

  • the real russ letlow

    this victory will taste very good for a long time.

  • Wilkerson

    Game ball to the defense that learned it can play (a little) without Aaron.
    The return of ARod will force opposing coordinators and offensive players to play tighter. It will allow our defense to play offensively instead of passively. The attitude and swag of the team will be back on the field. I hope.

    I will not and haven’t listened to anybody complain about MMs playcalling. He didn’t call any differently other than roll-outs for Flynn. Rather, Flynn calmed down and made quicker decisions. Did MM open up the playbook? NO. Did Flynn and the O execute halftime adjustments? Yes.
    This is the same MM that put Raji and Daniels in on the goal line.

    • Barutan Seijin

      He called a nice second half. Where was he in the first?

      That’s the problem with MM. We know he can do better, but sometimes he just doesn’t.

    • Shavager

      IF you can’t see Packers offense line up and KNOW what the play is–you haven’t spent much time watching McCarthy’s offense. The defense knew what McCarthy was gonna run, he didn’t turn Flynn loose with no huddle until just before end of first half after already going down 23 points. It was adjusting to NO HUDDLE and changing calls around that fooled Cowboys–the 60 yd run by Lacy was because the ‘Boys were looking for pass from a team that was down by 23 points. That play and two consecutive drives for TD’s by Flynn, shook up Cowboys, knocked them back on their heels-they thought the game was already over coming out of halftime. McCarthy gets some credit for adjusting in second half, but his strategy was a big part of the problem in first half.

  • Big T

    Brilliant second half. Jerry must have paid the refs more than usual. That was a poorly officiated game. At least we now have a ray of hope. If they try to keep Aaron out another game, I hope he demands a trade…

  • SchenySchen

    Archie,
    Way to go stealing happiness from the jaws of victory! GoPack!

  • J204

    Great to win the game. The D finally made a couple big plays when it needed to the most. I still hope though people still see how bad our safeties are giving up huge chunk plays. Dez running all over the place. Tackling was poor again. If this was not the Dallas Cowboys GB would have got smoked. I hope this win does not gloss over the effect that there still needs to be major change on the defensive side of the ball. Go ahead and rip me, I am just stating the facts, if they spotted that lead to SF, SEA, CAR, NWO in an NFC playoff game it would have been a wipeout and we would be here today saying how many heads need to roll.

  • Palmer Cottrell

    The official that stood directly in front of the interception and called it a incomplete pass should be either: Fined, Given time off, or Fired. He deliberately tried to give the game to Dallas. It is obvious that he called the play because he is biased for the home team. It is not the first time the Packers were the victim of a home team call. The league should take action against these officials that make “mistakes” that are so blatantly biased. Either give them a suspension or a fine or get rid of them all together.

    • Big T

      That official deserves a good ole fashioned kick to the ding ding…

    • http://GV889@aol.com Jerry

      I wonder if he was the same official who called Mike Neal offside when he was clearly drawn offside by the Cowboy’s lineman movement!

    • Shavager

      IF I could see the ball never touched the turf on the last INT by Williams and I was 2000 miles away watching on TV–what the heck was that official looking at 5 feet away? NOBODY in front of him blocking his vision and he calls it incomplete? NFL and Roger Goodell–CHECK this Ref’s EYESIGHT or HIS BANK ACCOUNT–something smells in Dallas and it AIN’T ALL THE COWBOYS!

  • James David

    Just hope that Detroit loses another game and then, if Green Bay wins out, we will see if Green Bay has the heart of a champion. I still believe that Green Bay can play with anybody when the desire to play well and win shows up on game day.

    • http://MSN Mark

      Your hopes are realized! Now, AR and Cobb in time to gel. Don’t take Richardson off the field, he’s got some learnin’ to do or we are toast in the playoffs.

  • packerswest

    The pack stole a win! Yeah Dallas could’a, should’a, would’a won that game, but they didn’t. Despite all our injuries, the refs bad calls, no calls and questionable calls the pack hung in there and at least for one half looked like a real contender. Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, kudos to the team, proud to be a packer fan!

  • SchenySchen

    One aspect that dumbfounds me is why they stick with Brad Jones instead of Lattimore. I have never seen a poorer form tackler than Jones. He tackles high and misses all the time. How has he not learned to go for the waist instead of the shoulder pads? For all the handwringing that fans do over AJ Hawk, I am always surprised they don’t hassle Jones more often. He is an awful middle LB. At some point, Lattimore has to overtake him. GoPack!

  • GBPDAN

    Game ball, Everything Green Bay Packers, Lame Call, Everything Dallas Cowboys

  • http://www.thomasjshields.com Tom Shields

    Game ball to Jamari Lattimore for being inspired to speak up, being a vocal leader at halftime. When Charles Woodson left, they lost this. Don’t underestimate the value of this to a team. I hope he is made a captain going forward and he definitely deserves a chance to play more than Brad Jones.

  • Shavager

    Matt Flynn-4 TD passes in second half, the biggest comeback win on hostile turf in GB history beating the Cowboys at home, something that Favre and Rodgers had never accomplished. Flynn should’ve got a game ball for patience, perseverance-at least when McCarthy let him run the NO HUDDLE offense in second half-it helped deny Cowboys some pressure on him and he got better production because he had more time. Lacy, Crosby, Shields and Williams stepped up and made some great plays for team to accomplish this win.