The Green Bay Packers put up 34 second-half points to mount a thrilling comeback against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15, coming away from AT&T Stadium with a 37-36 victory.
Cowboys: 1st time in franchise history that they lost a game in which they led by 20 or more points at the half— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 16, 2013
Matt Flynn threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns, and Eddie Lacy tallied 171 total yards and the game-winning touchdown with 1:31 left, as the Packers moved to 7-6-1 and kept their playoff hopes alive.
Dallas is also still in the postseason hunt at 7-7, but winning the NFC East just got much more difficult. As ESPN's Arash Markazi suggests, the Cowboys may have just kissed the postseason goodbye:
FINAL: Packers 37, Cowboys 36. So long playoffs. Take care Jason Garrett.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 16, 2013
Tony Romo threw for 358 yards, and DeMarco Murray (134 yards rushing, one touchdown) and Dez Bryant (153 yards, one touchdown) had monster days, but the Cowboys abandoned the run, collapsed in the second half and Romo threw two late interceptions to help Green Bay to the win.
Bryant, who appeared frustrated after the game, clarified on Twitter he was just "emotional":
I walked back to the locker room because I was emotional...it had nothing to do with my teammates we had it... We fought and didn't finish— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 16, 2013
ESPN's Adam Schefter shared his thoughts on Twitter:
Was that won by the Packers or lost by the Cowboys?— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 16, 2013
The first half belonged to Dallas in every aspect of the game. Romo connected with Jason Witten on a 25-yard touchdown, Murray added a one-yard score and Dan Bailey knocked in four field goals, giving the 'Boys a 26-3 lead heading into the locker room.
As the Packers' official Twitter feed pointed out, Dallas had nearly three times as many yards as Green Bay after the first 30 minutes:
Halftime stats: Total yards D 332, GB 129. 1st downs: D 17, GB 7. TOP D 17:25, GB 12:35. #GBvsDAL— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 15, 2013
Whatever Mike McCarthy said at halftime worked, though, because there was a complete role reversal in the second half.
Lacy set the tone with a 60-yard explosion down the sideline to start the third quarter, and Flynn capped off the first three drives of the half with touchdown throws to Jordy Nelson, Andrew Quarless and James Starks.
The latter cut Dallas' lead to 29-24 with plenty of time remaining in the fourth quarter.
But the Cowboys responded, as Romo marched the ball 80 yards on 10 plays, and Bryant put the exclamation mark on the drive with this unbelievable catch in the back of the end zone:
With eight minutes left, though, there was still plenty of football to be played. Green Bay came right back with an 80-yard drive that ended with a Flynn touchdown to James Jones, and after Romo was intercepted by Sam Shields, the Packers went 50 yards for the go-ahead score.
Romo had a chance to lead a late comeback with a minute and a half remaining, but he threw another interception to seal the win for the Packers.
Rowan Kavner of DallasCowboys.com shares this interesting detail:
Garrett said Romo checked out of second down run play on first of two late picks in the fourth quarter at time when Cowboys led— Rowan Kavner (@KavnerDC) December 16, 2013
Whatever the case, it was a costly mistake for Romo and the Cowboys.
It was an equally huge win for Green Bay, though, and head coach Mike McCarthy shared some of his thoughts after the win:
McCarthy-Our guys stayed the course, we knew it would come down to the last sequence of plays and it did. #GBvsDAL— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 16, 2013
McCarthy-I'm very proud of our football team. #GBvsDAL— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 16, 2013
Matt Flynn, Packers: A-
Flynn's performance epitomized a major storyline of the game: a tale of two halves.
During the first 30 minutes, he was completely unable to move the ball and saw about a third of his yards come on a screen to Lacy against prevent defense. Moreover, he threw an interception on an especially poor decision:
Although his second-half production was aided by some terrific plays from his wide receivers, he looked far more comfortable in the pocket, leading several scoring drives and throwing with extreme accuracy for much of the half.
Tony Romo, Cowboys: B-
For most of the game, Romo was surgical. The Packers struggled to create pressure, and he sat back and moved the ball with ease, finishing with a solid 7.5 yards per pass attempt.
Moreover, he made several beautiful throws on the night, including this touchdown to Witten:
Nevertheless, Romo collapsed down the stretch and made two bad throws that turned into interceptions.
The polarizing QB isn't the only one to blame for this loss (the secondary was a major culprit), but those were some costly mistakes.
Jordy Nelson, Packers: B+
Lacy would be getting an "A+" here, but I'd like to go in a different direction.
While Nelson's final numbers (five catches, 61 yards, one touchdown) don't necessarily jump out at you, he deserves credit for reasons other than his statistical output.
First, for this catch, which turned what should have been an interception into six points:
Second, he pulled in an unbelievable one-handed grab on the next possession, which helped extend a touchdown drive.
Both of those plays helped inject some energy into the Packers at the start of the second half.
Dan Bailey, Cowboys: A
We could talk about pretty much every Cowboys offensive player here, especially Bryant and Murray, but it's not often that an opportunity arises to give credit to a kicker. So I'm going to take it.
Bailey was fantastic on Sunday. Not only did he tally 18 points with five field goals and three extra points, but four of those field goals came from beyond 40 yards. He was Mr. Automatic.
The Cowboys head to Washington to battle Kirk Cousins and the Redskins in Week 16 before a critical matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles to close out the regular season.
Green Bay, meanwhile, will look to improve its postseason chances at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday.