ARLINGTON, Texas – The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com shared their initial feelings of the Cowboys' 37-36 loss to the Packers at AT&T Stadium.
David Helman:I thought perhaps Denver or Detroit would wind up being the most brutal loss of the 2013 season. But this one might take the cake, when you consider it was a home game against a backup quarterback and a dinged-up defense. I'm not a football coach, but the fact that the Cowboys handed the ball to DeMarco Murray just three times in the fourth quarter, while holding a lead for most of those 15 minutes, is almost unfathomable. The Cowboys got away from what worked, and it hurt them in the end. That goes for the defense, as well, as a solid performance in the first half was wiped away in the nightmarish second. The good news for the Cowboys is that Philadelphia's loss to Minnesota keeps them in control of their postseason prospects. But it's hard to feel great about that after what just happened in AT&T Stadium.
Rowan Kavner:The Cowboys lost to a team that was 1-4-1 previously without their starting quarterback, and the Packers looked like that type of team the first half of the game. Then it all imploded in a way that gave national pundits all the talking points they could possibly want to talk about, from late Tony Romo interceptions to questionable play-calling to a defense that couldn't stop anything late. I said in my gut feeling the Cowboys shouldn't lose this game, and they shouldn't have. But they did, even with Dez Bryant going for 153 yards and DeMarco Murray going for 134 yards. It was as big as a collapse as a game can be when squandering a 23-point lead, emphasizing all of the many flaws this team has experienced in recent years. It'll take a massive answer to get over the loss this week and the next for the Cowboys, who, despite the enormity of this loss, still have their playoff hopes alive after the Eagles lost to the Vikings. [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman: Until about 5:00 (CDT) it was looking pretty good. The Eagles lost, the offense was rolling and the defense was playing lights out with one pick already. Then, the Cowboys woke up and realized what they are – incredibly average. I mean, there's no way they could be 8-6 right? They have to get back to the 7-7 level. Well, they did. And I don't really care what Matt Flynn did or how he is. To me, the backups were a complete wash. What the Cowboys were rolling out there on defense is something you'd see in the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game. So yeah, Flynn should be able to carve them up. But the Cowboys have no excuse for what happened on offense. They lost this game with about three minutes to go when they didn't run the ball to the 2-minute warning. Instead, they tried to get greedy and it cost them. Tony Romo apparently checked out of the pass for the first interception. If that's the case, then that's inexcusable. He's got to be smarter than that. Getting the Packers to use their timeouts and run out some clock is the top priority at that point. You don't check from a run to a pass and throw a side-arm pick over the middle. But he did. He deserves blame for that and not getting the job done earlier to put this thing away.
Here we're the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Saturday.
Nick: I think the Cowboys beat the Packers. I didn't need to wait on Aaron Rodgers' status (although it does help my confidence with this pick). This is the kind of season on which the Cowboys have played close to the .500 mark all year so it'd be easy to say they lose, but at home, and with an average team coming in, give me the Cowboys. I think the defense bounces back in a big way - maybe not in terms of shutting down the Packers offense but in turnovers - I predict at least three for the defense. Miles Austin has always had good games against the Packers so I see him with a long catch and I think the Cowboys get a much-needed win that ties them for first place again. Cowboys 31-16.
Rowan: The Packers are 1-4-1 since Aaron Rodgers went out. If he were playing, my answer would probably change. But he's not, and for that reason the Cowboys shouldn't lose this game. They should beat a Packers team whose only win since their star quarterback went out was a one-point victory against the three-win Falcons. Much like the Cowboys, the Packers' defense has also been struggling, though Green Bay still has offensive firepower in Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy, if he plays. I think both teams stick to an effective running attack early on in a relatively low-scoring first half before the points start pouring on and the teams start airing it out in the second half. Both teams reach the 30s in points, Dez Bryant goes for 100 yards for the first time in seven games, both team's running backs reach the end zone and the Cowboys get three sacks in a four-point win.
David: Having had a few days to mull over the loss to Chicago, I feel better about the Cowboys' chances of a win against Green Bay. You can't overstate Aaron Rodgers' absence, which improves the chances of a Dallas win about tenfold, even if Eddie Lacy plays. The Cowboys have also played incredibly well at AT&T Stadium this year. They're 5-1 on the season, and the one loss was a heartbreaker to one of the best teams in the league. My guess is Jordy Nelson will be the latest receiver to give the Dallas secondary fits, as he goes for 120 or so and a touchdown. But the secondary matches up much better as a whole against this depleted Green Bay receiving corps, and I think the Cowboys will finally generate enough of a pass rush to cause some turnovers. Cowboys win by six.