Game Recap: In Another Painful Finish, The Cowboys Fall to Packers, 35-31

These two teams never fail to disappoint, that's for sure, as the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers put on yet another down-to-the wire barnburner.

But in a painfully familiar finish, it was the visiting Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers who once again came away with the victory, winning 35-31 in front of a sold-out crowd of 93,329.

Rodgers has been a frequent nemesis of the Cowboys in his career and he again played the part of villain in this one. He finished with 221 passing yards, completing 65.5 percent of his attempts, but threw three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 122.9 passer rating.

And it was because of Rogers, of course, that the Cowboys couldn't feel comfortable at halftime despite having a 21-12 advantage. Who can forget the 2013 game at AT&T Stadium when Dallas was up 26-3 at the break only to see Green Bay storm back for a 37-36 win? Or last year's divisional round playoff loss when Rodgers set his team up for the game-winning field goal as time ran out. Painful memories indeed.

Still, the first two quarters looked like the Cowboys of 2016 as they scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives all while grinding out the clock. That led to an 18:50 to 11:10 time of possession difference for Dallas when halftime came around.

And leading that early charge was Dak Prescott, who was stellar in the first two quarters, connecting on 15-of-19 attempts for 168 yards with a passer rating of 143.1. He also had three touchdown passes, matching his career high and marking the first time he's ever thrown three scores in consecutive games.

The first of those came after Prescott deftly avoided the rush, scrambled to his right and then found Brice Butler for a 49-yard completion to the Green Bay 29-yard line. The opening possession was then capped with Prescott finding Cole Beasley on the right side of the end zone for the seven points and an early lead.

Although the Packers stormed right back with 75-yard drive that finished with a 10-yard pass to Davante Adams, they missed the extra point to keep the score 7-6. That left Beasley to get into the act again.

After failing to reach the end zone at all through the Cowboys' first four games, Beasley found paydirt for the second time in this game with an easy toss-and-catch on a 5-yard slant. That jumped the lead up to 14-6 early in the second quarter, which soon became 21-6 after the Cowboys took over again after forcing Green Bay to a three-and-out.

Prescott carried the load himself on the team's third scoring drive as he scrambled up the middle for a career-long 21-yard run, converted fourth-and-1 at the Packers' 22-yard line with a 2-yard quarterback sneak, and then finished off the series with a pass to Dez Bryant in the right corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

But like the week before, when the Rams kicked a field goal at the end of the second quarter and then came out and added three more points on their first possession of the third quarter, so too did the Packers seemingly start a momentum shift.

Rodgers led his team to a touchdown with just 58 seconds remaining in the first half, running back Aaron Jones darting up the middle from 7 yards out. The series was kept alive in part by a facemask penalty on Anthony Hitchens on a third-and-5 at the Dallas 38-yard line. That gave the visitors a first down and they took advantage, although Crosby again missed the extra point, giving Dallas that 21-12 lead at the half.

And just like the previous Sunday, Dallas allowed its opponent to chip away at the Cowboys' lead with its first possession of the third quarter, this time Crosby splitting the uprights from 22 yards away to narrow the score to 21-15.

When Dallas was then forced to punt on its next possession, the Packers embarked on another lengthy drive that ended with a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Green Bay simply dominated in the third frame, owning the time of possession, 11:28 to 3:32.

The Cowboys appeared set to force at least a field goal when the Packers faced a third-and-10 at the Dallas 31-yard line. But the defense was flagged for two holding penalties, the one accepted setting Green Bay up with a first down at the Cowboys' 26. Two plays later, a wide-open Jordy Nelson was hauling in a 10-yard pass to give the Packers the lead, 22-21.

But unlike last week, when Dallas nearly abandoned its run game in the second half – Ezekiel Elliott had 14 carries for 56 yards in the first two quarters against the Rams, but then just 29 yards on seven tries in the final two frames – the Cowboys continued to hand the ball to their star rusher.

Elliott only had 31 yards off 16 carries up until that point, but then got the ball on four of the Cowboys' next five plays, totaling 42 yards. The drive stalled at the Packers' 25-yard line, but Dan Bailey was good on the 43-yard field goal to give Dallas back the lead, 24-22.

Were the Cowboys back in the driver's seat? It sure seemed that way when Green Bay went three-and-out and Dallas took over at its own 12-yard line. But on the second play of the possession, Prescott's quick dart to Terrance Williams went right through the receiver's hands and into the waiting arms of cornerback Damarious Randall, who promptly slid in untouched for the score.

The Packers' attempt at a two-point conversion failed, but they were back on top, 28-24.

Again, the Cowboys turned to the running game. Starting at their own 21, seven of their 14 plays were rushes with Elliott carrying five times for 26 yards and Alfred Morris chipping in one 5-yard rush. That was mixed in with four short passes, none of which were for more than 6 yards, as Dallas methodically worked its way down the field.

That set up a pivotal fourth-and-1 at the Packers' 20-yard line, and sure enough, Elliott got the call and was able to extend the ball just far enough for the needed yardage. That gave the Cowboys a first down with two minutes left in the game.

They only needed three more plays and 42 more seconds. With the Packers keying on Elliott, Prescott faked the handoff and kept it himself, scrambling around the left end and into the end zone for the 11-yard score, the Cowboys now up 31-28 with 1:13 left in the game.

But as Cowboys fans know all too well, that was more than enough time for Rodgers. The future Hall of Famer drove his team 75 yards in nine plays, completing a pair of passes for 14 yards each and scrambling for another 18 yards.

The final blow came with a perfectly placed pass to Adams over rookie Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis in the back left side of the end zone with only 11 seconds left, the touchdown securing Green Bay the win, 35-31.

Despite getting off to a slow start, Elliott finished with 116 yards rushing on 29 carries while Prescott went toe-to-toe with Rogers, completing 69.4 percent of his passes for 251 yards and a 105.2 passer rating. Jason Witten was the primary recipient of Prescott's work, hauling in eight catches for 61 yards to lead the team.

With that, the Cowboys head into their bye week saddled with a two-game losing streak and a 2-3 record. They'll be back in action on Oct. 22 at San Francisco, the first of two straight road games.

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