GREEN BAY, Wis. – As the Dallas Cowboys charter flight was taxiing toward the runway for takeoff from here Sunday night, the control tower informed our pilot that there was a takeoff lineup, like 15 corporate jets ahead of us.
Back'a the line in my house.
Hmmm, Ezekiel Elliott should have been the co-pilot.
My goodness, after all these years ain't seen nothing like this. The Cowboys offense, still minus Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, La'el Collins, Chaz Green and Lance Dunbar, still no James Hanna or Darren McFadden, made mincemeat out of the Green Bay defense.
Cowboys 30, Packers 16.
Shredded the Cheeseheads for 424 total yards.
Stomped through them for 191 yards rushing, 20 more than the Packers had given up in the first four games – total.
And Zeke, good gosh, you'd have thought the Bengals and now the Packers were no more than Purdue or Indiana. Seriously, a season-high 157 yards rushing, the first guy to stomp out a run of more than 20 yards against what now must be considered the erstwhile vaunted Packers defense, and the Cowboys did that three times. I mean, Zeke averaged 5.8 yards per carry.
That makes 706 yards rushing after six games, on pace for 1,874, bearing down on Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record (1,808).
And Dak Prescott? Well, he's human. Finally was intercepted for the first time in his career, but not before throwing 176 consecutive passes, bettering Tom Brady's previous record by 14. Lost a fumble, too. But I'll be, Dak still threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He still had another 100-plus passer rating (117.4)
Yep, the kids are all right.
And so are the Dallas Cowboys, 5-1, first place in the NFC East, winners of five straight and turning heads left and right. Better not hear anyone else say they haven't played anyone yet, though they treated the Packers (3-2) as if they weren't anyone special. You know how it's been after every victory so far, folks saying, "Yeah, but …" wanting to qualify the win.
Well now, with some level of confidence, can we not say, "Yeah, but what?"
And as much as we keep harping on what this Cowboys offense is doing, having scored at least 27 points in four of their six games – and we should point out Romo has yet to play and Dez has now missed the past three games – we, along with the 78,481 at Lambeau Field and a near-national TV audience, saw the continuation of Marinelli Magic.
Hey, I get it. They aren't impenetrable. The Packers totaled 372 yards. Aaron Rodgers threw for 294, completing 74 percent of his passes. The Packers converted seven of 13 third-down opportunities. The Cowboys can't seem to mount a pass rush, to the point that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has basically said to himself, no sense rushing four if we can't get there. Might as well just rush three and use that extra guy in coverage. Can only beat your head against the wall so many times.
But I'll be (again) if Dallas didn't hold the Packers to just 16 points, the fewest they've scored against the Cowboys in the past six games, having to go back to 2008 when the Cowboys won their first game at Lambeau in club history, 27-16. That then makes it four consecutive games Dallas has held an opponent to no more than 17 points.
This be a trend?
[embeddedad0]Heck, I don't know. There were times in this game I swear I could have counted to 5-Mississippi before Rodgers threw the football. There were times when Eddie Lacy was hurdling through this defensive front like nobody's business.
But somehow, maybe when you least expect it, this Cowboys defense makes a play. Like four takeaways – a Barry Church interception and three fumble recoveries, one of those forced by Church, too.
No wonder that after the game head coach Jason Garrett kept using this word "physical-ness" that spellcheck doesn't like.
And remember, that's still Rodgers out there, and Jordy Nelson and Devante Adams and Randall Cobb. Guys the Cowboys haven't been able to deal with over the past few years. That's still Mike McCarthy calling plays.
But how 'bout this:
Facing a third-and-1 at their own 19, the Cowboys stuff the run with Anthony Hitchens and Cedric Thornton getting the credit, forcing a field goal.
Facing a third-and-9 at their 26, held the Packers to 4 yards, forcing a field goal.
Facing a fourth-and-5 at their own 38, Byron Jones broke up a deep pass to Cobb, forcing the Packers to turn the ball over to the Cowboys.
Facing a first-and-goal at the 1, second-year lineman David Irving tracked down Rodgers on a planned quarterback draw, not only forcing a fumble but recovering the ball, too, one of his three forced fumbles in the game.
Facing a third-and-10 at the Cowboys' own 16-yard line, Irving batted Rodgers' pass at the line of scrimmage incomplete, forcing a field goal.
Total, here is how nine of the Packers' 11 possessions in the game ended: Field goal, lost fumble, field goal, downs, punt, interception, lost fumble, field goal, lost fumble.
Time and time again the Cowboys defense rose to the occasion. Don't make any one of these plays and the entire complexion of the game changes. But somehow they did, and remember, no Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne got knocked out of the game (concussion-like symptoms) and they lost Barry Church twice, thus forcing the Cowboys to move Jones into the slot cornerback, rookie slot corner Anthony Brown to left corner and Jeff Heath to come in at safety.
And don't you know the Packers knew that, too, starting to run a slew of four- and five-receiver sets, forcing the Cowboys to use a linebacker at times in the slot.
"We were calling plays (on defense) we couldn't run," Garrett said because of the limited numbers in the secondary. "What the hell can we run here?"
Maybe just call their "takeaway" defense. You realize the Cowboys in six games now have nine takeaways, and are on pace for 24. Last year they finished with a franchise-low 11.
You realize they now are only giving up an average of 17.8 points per game, with only Washington scoring more than 20 points against them (23).
You realize the Cowboys and Minnesota are the only teams in the NFL so far to not allow a 100-yard rusher or 100-yard receiver in the NFL, which is their longest such streak since 2011.
You realize this is the first time a Cowboys backup quarterback has won five consecutive games since 1991 when Steve Beuerlein won the final four during the regular season and a first-round playoff game.
You realize this is the first time a Cowboys rookie quarterback has won five games in a single season.
And for further perspective of what took place here, did you realize this is only the second time in 11 games over 57 seasons that the Cowboys have won at Lambeau Field?
Got a hunch the dude in the control tower certainly did and wasn't amused one bit.