Game Recap: Cowboys Rally Back But Lose In The End, 34-31

The Cowboys magic finally ran out on this crazy, remarkable, unbelievable season.

They gave it all they had. Down 15 points in the fourth quarter, their largest deficit of the season, the Cowboys mounted a furious comeback, tying the game with just more than four minutes remaining and then again with only 1:33 left, giving the sold-out crowd of 93,396 a game for the ages.

But in the end Aaron Rodgers just proved to be too much, as the Packers eventually won this NFC Divisional Round game, 34-31, a field goal with only three seconds remaining the difference.

The Green Bay quarterback picked apart the Dallas defense early and then led his team to the winning points late, finishing the day with 356 passing yards, completing 28-of-42 with two touchdowns, an interception and a 96.7 passer rating.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott held his own against the future Hall of Famer, though. In fact, he may have even outdueled him. The rookie again proved unflappable, guiding his team back when all hope seemed lost. He totaled 302 passing yards while completing 24-of-38 attempts for three touchdowns, an interception and a 103.2 rating.

His fellow freshman, Ezekiel Elliott, was outstanding as well, as he rushed for 125 yards on 22 carries, an impressive 5.7 yards per attempt. And the third member of this new era of Triplets did his part also. Dez Bryant racked up 132 receiving yards on nine catches with two touchdown grabs.

But the Cowboys didn't exactly help themselves in the early stages of the game with questionable play-calling, penalties and an inability of the defense to get off the field.

Third downs, in particular, were a struggle for the Cowboys defense. On Green Bay's first possession, twice Dallas committed penalties on third down, which allowed the Packers to extend their drive. The second of those, an offside penalty on defensive lineman David Irving, resulted in Rodgers throwing a 32-yard pass to tight end Richard Rogers to put Green Bay up 7-3.

Then on the Packers' next possession, Aaron Rogers went 3-for-3 on third downs, completing passes of 14, 9 and 32 yards to move the chains. The series ended with running back Ty Montgomery diving in off left guard from 3 yards out.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys continued to be their own worst enemy on offense. On their first drive of the game, a sack of Dak Prescott stalled the series and forced Dallas to settle for a 50-yard field by Dan Bailey. And Dallas appeared to be rolling again on its second possession, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Brice Butler negated a 22-yard pass to Terrance Williams and instead backed the Cowboys up 15 yards, killing the drive.

When Green Bay then scored on its third straight possession, this time helped by a penalty on Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne on a third-and-6, the game seemed all but over. Montgomery bulled his way in from 1-yard out, giving the Packers a seemingly comfortable 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
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Finally, though, the Cowboys found a spark. Prescott connected with Bryant for 21 yards, then came right back to the wideout on a 40-yard bomb down the left sidelines to get Dallas in the end zone. When Dallas finally forced Green Bay to punt and then added a 33-yard field goal on its next possession, pulling to within 21-13 at the half, there was new life in the stadium.

But Rodgers and the Packers got the ball to start the third quarter and they marched right down the field in just six plays. After the quarterback connected with tight end Jared Cook, who was all alone in the back right corner of the end zone, Dallas was looking at 15-point hole.

The Cowboys, however, reached the end zone again early in the fourth quarter, Prescott finding tight end Jason Witten in the end zone from 6 yards out to make it a one possession game, 28-20. And with momentum having swung back to the Dallas side, the defense then came up with a huge stop, Barry Church getting to Rodgers for the sack on a safety blitz on third-and-5.

And Dallas capitalized, reeling off an 11-play, 80-yard drive that saw Elliott run the ball five times for 34 yards and Prescott complete four passes for 34 yards, the team also helped by a pass interference penalty on the Packers that gave Dallas a first down at the Green Bay 15-yard line. Three plays later, on third-and-2, Prescott connected with Bryant in the end zone for the score.

Deciding to go for the two-point conversion, Prescott took care of it himself, crossing the goal line on a quarterback draw, the game now tied, 28-28 with just over four minutes remaining.

But Rodgers again got his Packers moving, the Dallas defense unable to get the stop they so desperately needed. The big blow came on second-and-1 at the 50-yard line. Under pressure, Rogers lofted a pass deep down the left sideline, but although the pass sailed far over the receiver's head, Dallas was flagged for pass interference, giving Green Bay the ball at the Dallas 35-yard line.

The defense was able to shut them down from there, setting up a 56-yard field goal. And despite Mason Crosby's kick being somewhat low, it split the uprights, the Packers taking a 31-28 lead.

Starting at their own 25-yard line with one timeout and 1:33 left in the game, Prescott went to work, connecting on passes of 24 yards, 11 and 7 to reach the Green Bay 33-yard line. That left it to Bailey and, of course, the sure-footed kicker was good, splitting the uprights from 52 yards out to tie the game again.

But that left Rodgers 35 seconds with which to work, and in the end it proved to be enough. Although a sack had Green Bay facing a second-and-20 at its own 32-yard line, Rodgers rolled to his left, and with plenty of time, connected with Cook who just got his feet in bounds for a 36-yard completion to the Dallas 33.

On came Crosby for a 51-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining. The Cowboys tired to ice him with a timeout, but his kick snuck just inside the left upright, giving Green Bay the 34-31 win.

With the loss, the Cowboys season has come to an end, the team finishing 13-3 during the regular season and winning the NFC East, but again failing to advance to the NFC Championship.

View some of our favorite photos, updated throughout the Packers vs Cowboys game.

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