ARLINGTON, Texas –Sometimes, you just get beat.
As simple as it sounds, sometimes that's really all you can say.
Sure, we can all go back and pick out a play or three that would've made things much different as the Cowboys head into the bye week. Man, 2-3 and 3-2 seems much bigger than just a one-game difference. And when you consider how close it was for the Cowboys to be on the winning side of this back-and-forth affair, it makes the pill even tougher to swallow.
But the fact is, the Packers just made one more play, and in this league, sometimes that's all that matters.
We could argue if the Packers were simply the better team. Hmm, maybe. But if they lined it up again and played another game, who knows what happens.
Maybe the Cowboys' starting receiver doesn't drop another pass that leads to a touchdown.
Maybe the officials don't call two different plays on a sack down at the 2-yard line.
Maybe an odd personal foul penalty isn't called in the end zone that gives the Cowboys another shot at a touchdown.
This game had all kinds of weird plays, but it comes down to the end, and the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. If you haven't noticed, he's pretty great.
There's no reason to oversimplify it. Regardless of whether the outcome of this game made you excited, proud, confused or flat-out sick to your stomach (and judging by the tone of my Twitter feed I'm going to say it's probably the latter), this was a great football game.
Yes, it would've been greater for the Cowboys had they been able to win, but when you're facing the best quarterback in the land, you can't give him a chance to beat you in the end.
He had that chance, and he took advantage. But it makes no sense to sit here and second-guess the Cowboys' decision-making on their final touchdown drive.
Do it if you want to because that's the world we live in. Everyone is a Monday Morning Quarterback and some of them get a head start Sunday night. Personally, I'm not going there. Yeah, we're critical of the Cowboys and some questionable coaching decisions. But I don't think that's fair in this game.
In the press box after the game, I'm hearing media members say that Jason Garrett got outcoached. I just don't see it.
With about a minute to play in the game, the Cowboys are trailing and need a touchdown. Yeah, you can play the game of trying to bleed the clock as well – and for the most part they did – but at some point you have to make sure you score a touchdown. Down by four points, the Cowboys' primary goal is to get the six points at all costs. Getting cute and trying to take off the time and then not scoring would've been ridiculous. And we all know that.
Yes, I was like everyone else in the stadium –including the fan in the front row who flagged me down and yelled, "Nick, too much time!" – and figured Rodgers would easily have plenty of time to move the ball down the field and just get a field goal and maybe more. Because of the two quick 14-yard gains, the Packers had a shot for more.
But as I said to myself on the field right before the Cowboys were kicking the ball off with 1:13 to play – this is the NFL. This is a professional defense. No matter who the quarterback is, your job is to go out and win the game.
The offense has just put up 31 points on the board and handed you the lead with a minute to go. Just stop them.
Yes, stop them. Go out and play professional football and make a stop. They couldn't do that.
Again, I'm not putting this on the defense entirely. That group was gutty and played well at times. It was ironic that rookie Jourdan Lewis gave up the final touchdown because he might very well be the best cornerback on this team – right now. I'm not saying he's got the most upside. I'm saying he's the best they've got.
And yet, you could tell Rodgers was targeting him in the final seconds.
Thinking of those final throws reminds me of just how terrible the officials were in this game – and for both teams. Yes, Cowboys fans lost the game so they're going to think it was all against them. But the officials had a rough day, starting with a bogus penalty in the end zone on Packers linebacker Blake Martinez that gave the Cowboys a new set of downs and eventually a touchdown. Terrible call there.
Just like the one later in the game when the officials weren't on the same page on what should've been either a sack by DeMarcus Lawrence or an incomplete pass. But roughing the passer shouldn't have been the call – regardless if God was throwing the ball back there.
That takes me to the end. But you know if Lewis had been the receiver and Davante Adams was the corner, every yellow flag this side of the Mississippi would've been thrown for pass interference. It's a shame that Lewis didn't get that call for offensive P.I. because those 15 yards would've certainly put this game into overtime – assuming the suddenly-erratic Mason Crosby would've made the tying field goal.
But that was just another odd call in a game full of them.
Again, not blaming the officials nor the Cowboys' defense, offense or coaching staff.
They got Aaron Rodgers'd. It happens.
Just seems to happen a lot in this stadium and against this team.