Before His Hail Mary, Cowboys Already Knew Rodgers Has Plenty Of Grit

IRVING, Texas – Limited by an injured calf, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers past the Cowboys in last season's 26-21 divisional playoff classic.

Leading into Sunday's rematch at Lambeau Field, Rodgers has been healthy this season. It's his receivers who have been hurting.

All-Pro Jordy Nelson is on injured reserve. The Packers' lead receiver in his absence, Randall Cobb, has played through a sore shoulder. James Jones has dealt with a sore hamstring. Rookie Ty Montgomery has missed the last five games with an ankle injury.

And Davante Adams, the unsung hero of last year's game (117 yards and a touchdown), missed three games earlier this year with a sprained ankle.

Clearly, health and continuity have been a challenge for Rodgers and the Packers' passing game. The loss of Nelson alone hurts; his 13 touchdowns in 2014 was the league's second-highest total.

"He's a marquee player and he had an incredible year last year," Rodgers said in a conference call with the Dallas-Fort Worth media, 'and we've been trying to work through ways to get guys open."

The Packers' offense that led the league in scoring last year (30.4 points a game) ranks 12th this season (24.1). But Rodgers is still having another elite season, with a 26-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 97.3 passer rating.

The Cowboys are well aware he can beat teams inside or outside the pocket. And when the Packers' running game gets rolling, Rodgers becomes even more efficient. Green Bay (8-4) is 6-1 this season when it rushes for at least 100 yards.

"He's a great leader of their team, he's really, really smart, a great decision maker, he understands how to win games," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "His track record speaks for itself and he's one of those guys that players and coaches around the league when you watch him play you kind of look at each other and say, 'Wow, did you see that?'

"He just has amazing ability to put his team in position to win week in week out, year in, year out."

And, last week's lesson: The Packers are seemingly never out of it, as Rodgers' winning Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers showed.

"He's resilient, he's going to fight to the end and he's a great player," Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "We've just got to come prepared and focused."

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