ARLINGTON, Texas –Everyone on the DallasCowboys.com staff thought Aaron Rodgers would be hard to stop. So all of the writers were correct about that one. But all but one thought the Packers would get the victory like they did.
Here's how they reacted instantly after the wild game Sunday afternoon.
It's always tough to nail down the specifics. But this game played out, more or less, exactly how I thought it would. To be fair, I honestly thought the Cowboys would run the ball better, and I didn't think the Packers would rush as well as they did. But all of that aside, Aaron Rodgers was just too good for this Dallas defense in the end. Dak Prescott was fantastic, and the Dallas offense played some of its best ball of the season. But there's two things I take issue with as I sit here after the game. Firstly, you can't give the opposition free points when they already have the most dynamic quarterback in the league, and that's exactly what Terrance Williams did. Secondly, you can't give Aaron Rodgers 1:13 and a timeout to work with after scoring the go-ahead touchdown – not unless you have a far better defense than the Cowboys do. The offense played well enough to win this game, but the play calling inside the final two minutes was questionable. The Cowboys left far too much time for one of the best quarterbacks ever, and he took advantage of it.
I've always got something to say but after this one, it's really hard to put anything into words. It's kind of my job so I'll do my best. But how many times are the Cowboys going to get Rodgers'd like this? They basically did everything I thought they would do for 59 minutes. It's that last minute on the clock that killed the Cowboys and their chances of winning. Dak played a great game but Aaron Rodgers was a little better, especially at the end. I don't fault the Cowboys for the way they handled their scoring drive in the final minutes. They had a shot to take the lead and they got it. From there, the defense has to make a play and it couldn't. Simple as that. This kind of game came down to who had the ball last and unfortunately for the Cowboys, it wasn't them.
It's quite rare that my gut feeling is correct, but unfortunately for the Cowboys, it was all based on Aaron Rodgers' clutch factor. He's one of the greatest ever, and he's shown time and again that if he has the ball in his hands with enough time, he'll go win the game. I thought the Cowboys would top 30 points again because the offense has been trending upward the last couple of weeks. I thought the defense would make plays, too, but Sean Lee's injury absence was clearly an issue, especially in the run game. It gave Rodgers the balance he needed to drive the field, especially at the end.
I had a feeling that this game would come down to Aaron Rodgers and his ability to make plays in the end. What I didn't expect was Green Bay to have the ability to run the ball with the success that they did. As well as Rodgers played, Aaron Jones was just as good. Without that balance, I think you would have seen the Cowboys knock Rodgers around a little more. It bothered me that he was left the time that he was to finish the game. I felt like that the coaches could have done a better job of controlling that situation like they had to that point.
Gut Feeling Predictions (Posted Friday, Oct. 6):
It's a non-divisional rivalry with a rich tradition, and recently it's become nearly an annual matchup between two proud franchises and NFC contenders.
Sunday at AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys and Packers will meet for the fifth time in the last four years. Can the Cowboys avenge a heartbreaking home loss to Green Bay in the divisional round this past January? Or will the Packers push their record to 4-1 and send Dallas to the bye week at 2-3? The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their gut feelings for Week 5:
* *The phrase I used a couple weeks ago was "benefit of the doubt." We have played 25 percent of this season, and I regret to say that I can no longer give these Cowboys the benefit of the doubt based on last year's performance. That's not to say that they're a bad team, or that they won't have a good season. But four weeks of games indicates that this offense hasn't quite hit its stride yet, and this defense isn't ready to carry the load while the offense sorts things out. Again, this is no reason to panic. I think this team should get better as the season goes along. But the Packers are not the team you want to play while you're still sorting out your identity. Aaron Rodgers should be able to take advantage of this defense, and I think he's going to put some serious strain on this Dallas offense to keep up. I think the Cowboys will run the ball well – the best they have all season, in fact. But even as Ezekiel Elliott picks up 138 yards, I think the Packers will find ways to get just enough stops. Meanwhile, if Aaron Rodgers can avoid the Dallas pass rush, this is a pretty favorable matchup for him. I think he throws for 315 yards and three touchdowns in this game. It's going to be a nailbiter, but I'm guessing Rodgers gets the job done and the Packers sneak out of town with a 31-27 win.
This team is 2-2 after facing Eli Manning, Trevor Siemian, Carson Palmer and Jared Goff. Clearly the quarterbacks are going to get better and it obviously starts on Sunday. That being said, we think the talent level of the opposing defense will start to decrease and that probably starts on Sunday, too. Yes, I think Rodgers will give this team all sorts of problems but I'm betting on the Cowboys getting back into gear offensively. Look for Elliott to have over 130 rushing yards and a few more receiving yards out of the backfield. I think Cole Beasley gets out of his mini-slump with a handful of catches for significant gains. I've got improved play from the Cowboys' safeties and Jeff Heath will again get another turnover off of Rodgers. Overall, the Cowboys will hang on for a 27-21 victory despite Rodgers throwing the ball into the end zone in the final seconds.
* *The Cowboys' offense seems to be building toward a truly consistent performance after putting together a first half most reminiscent of their 2016 identity this past Sunday against the Rams. I expect them to top 30 points for the second straight week. I also expect Rodgers and the Packers' offense to put up their share of points – one score more than the Cowboys. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens' return certainly helps, but if Sean Lee indeed needs more time to rest his hamstring, the Cowboys would be without their All-Pro linebacker and best pre-snap communicator against arguably the NFL's most dangerous quarterback. My gut feeling is that this young defense – and the entire team, in fact – will deliver an inspired performance that makes you think they'll be peaking as they move further down the schedule, but Rodgers makes one more play to win another high-scoring game between these two rivals.
* *I believe that the Cowboys have the understanding of what it takes to move the ball against this Packers defense. My worry is on the defensive side when it comes to defending Rodgers. You almost have to play a perfect game when you face him and I am not sure that from what I've seen to start the season that they are capable of that. They've allowed too many big plays, especially in the passing game. Even when they've got opponents in situations of third-and-10 or more yards, the defense can't get off the field. Twenty-nine percent of the time opponents have been able to convert and sustain drives. The Packers with their personnel will make you pay if you don't stay disciplined in your coverage. I don't see the Packers running the ball, and even with some questions along the offensive line, Rodgers will be the difference with his ability to make plays on the move. One day these kids in the secondary will be able to match up with Rodgers, but this time around they get a lesson. Packers in another close one, 28-27, with Rodgers being the difference.