FRISCO, Texas – How fitting that in the 100th-year anniversary of the National Football League the Cowboys and Packers would hook up again, for the 37th time during the regular season and postseason.
The Packers have dominated the series early and of late. In fact, the two teams first played in the Cowboys' inaugural 1960 season, the Packers on Nov. 13 trouncing the Cowboys, 41-7, in the first meeting between the former New York Giants assistant coaches Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. And the Packers would go on to win the next six meetings before the Cowboys broke through in 1970, winning 16-3, meaning Landry never defeated Lombardi.
And as we well know, two of those Cowboys losses occurred in back-to-back NFL title games, 34-27 at the Cotton Bowl New Year's Day 1967 and then 21-17 New Year's Eve 1967 in the infamous Ice Bowl game at Lambeau Field.
And now, from 2009 through 2017, the Packers have won seven of the last eight meetings, including those two tight playoff victories, one at Lambeau the end of the 2016 season, 26-21, and then after the 2016 season, 34-31 at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys' only victory during that span came in 2016, Dak's rookie season, 30-16, to break up the Packers' dominance.
But this series has been one of streaks, since from 1991 through the 1995 season, the Cowboys then dominated, winning eight straight, beating the Packers in five consecutive regular season games and three playoff games in a row, including the 1995 NFC title game, 38-27. In fact, the Cowboys would go on to win three of the next five encounters, too.
So here we go again, 3-1 Cowboys vs. 3-1 Packers, Cowboys leading the NFC East and the Packers tied for the NFC North lead.
Worthy of a whole lot of shots.
- Cobb Reunion: Randall Cobb worked hard to downplay the personal significance of Sunday's game with the Packers, the team he spent the past eight seasons with before becoming a free agent in the offseason. The Packers chose to move on from their popular receiver, a move that somewhat hacked off quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "What is this, Week 5?" Cobb said rhetorically, as if he didn't know this game was on the schedule. "I'm worried about this week." So are the Packers since they have likely lost their star receiver Davante Adams to the turf toe injury suffered in the fourth quarter of this past Thursday night's 34-27 loss to the Eagles. Adams wasn't available for the Eagles' final two goal-line stands. His absence wasn't lost on Joe Buck after mentioning on the national television broadcast how many young receivers were now on the field for the Packers, saying, "You're used to seeing Randall Cobb out there for Aaron Rodgers. He's now with the Dallas Cowboys." And aren't the Cowboys glad he is, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett pointing after facing Cobb all these years, "but just understand that he was a pain in the ass . . ."
- Rodgers Dodger: Keep hearing how Rodgers has been struggling in the Packers' new offense under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur. Yet here were his passing numbers in Thursday night's loss to the Eagles: 34 of 53, 422 yards, two touchdowns, one interception – on a tipped ball at the goal line – and gaining a team-high 46 yards rushing on five attempts while leading the Packers to 491 yards offense against Philly's defense. Ten of those completions went to Adams for 180 yards. Cowboys probably profusely thanking that turf for that toe.
- College Hookup: Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith was quick to point out he had a collegiate relationship with LaFleur. While playing linebacker at Notre Dame from 2013-15, LaFleur was the quarterback coach for the Irish the 2014 season.
- Line Dance: Bad enough the Cowboys know they will be without Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) for Sunday's game against the Packers, but they also were without starting right tackle La'el Collins (back) during Wednesday's practice. That meant, not only did backup swing tackle Cam Fleming move into left tackle with the first unit, starting left guard Connor Williams moved to right tackle and backup guard Xavier Su'a-Filo jumped in at left guard. And I'm told if the Cowboys had to play that way Sunday, the backup swing tackle would then be starting right guard Zack Martin, with backup center/guard Joe Looney most likely moving into right guard. Got all that? Tyron's sprain is called a "medial sprain," so not as severe as one of those high ones. Might not be out as long as some were predicting.
- Ticky-Tack: Amari Cooper was called for two offensive pass interference penalties, seemingly fathom calls at that, especially that highly-costly second one on the Cowboys' final drive of the game, costing them 10 yards, yards that could have made the difference between throwing a Hail Mary at the end of the game or possibly attempting a 60-yard field goal for the win. When asked if needed to adjust his game, Cooper said, "I don't feel like I did anything egregious. Those were questionable calls to the point I don't need to adjust my game." Good call.
- Dope Shots: These in honor of the longtime Green Bay Packers tradition of continuing to name their Weekly Media Information release "The Dope Sheet," dope being an old slang term for like give me the information . . . WR Michael Gallup sure appears to be moving around just fine two weeks removed from his arthroscopic surgery to remove a piece of torn meniscus, and from the looks of things should be ready to play Sunday . . . With safety Kavon Frazier going on IR following surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle, the Cowboys have signed WR Ventell Bryant off the practice squad, with the idea of helping on out special teams, maybe as a gunner, and at 6-3, maybe as a kick blocker. And to compensate at safety, look for rookie Donovan Wilson to possibly be active on Sunday . . . The Cowboys are one of four teams, despite scoring only 10 points this past Sunday, ranked in the Top 10 when it comes to total yards on offense and defense, the Cowboys ranked third on offense and tied for 10th on defense.
And I leave you with this to ponder: After missing a month of training camp, and then serving a two-game suspension to start the season, Cowboys defensive end Robert Quinn in two games now leads the team with three sacks and 11 QB hurries. So, since he will only be able to play 14 of the 16 games, if you factor out three sacks every two games, he's on pace for 21. That certainly qualifies for "stud" status from Rod Marinelli.