Monday, December 16, 2013

Packers' win over Cowboys a tale of two halves


That was Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy's first word at his press conference after his team's amazing 37-36 comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys.

No doubt it was also coming out of the mouths of many if not most Packer fans. What fans of the Cowboys might have been saying is probably not fit for print.

After a miserable first half of lethargic and truly uninspired play, and going into the locker room down 26-3, it was a reasonable assumption by most that this game was over and, with it, any hopes of the Packers in the post-season. We don't know what McCarthy said at half, or what kind of magical tea or high octane espresso he served up to his players, but the second half was unlike any we've seen the Packers play in a long, long time. They outscored the Cowboys in the second half 34-10.

Tramon Williams incredible game/season-saving 4th quarter interception
Photo by Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The season is still alive
This writer has to confess that when the Cowboys went up by 12 points in the 4th quarter I thought it was over. How wrong I I was about my game prediction where I had the Pack losing. Mea culpa. But I've never been so glad to have been so wrong in my lifetime.

In fact, courtesy of two fantastic interceptions late in the game by Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, as well as any number of other dynamic plays on both offense and defense, the Packers were able to snatch this highly improbable victory in Big D.

Where do you start? For one thing, forget the first half. Not worthy of discussion. It's all about the second half. A great Micah Hyde punt return. Four touchdown passes by Matt Flynn. Incredible catches by Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin and Andrew Quarless. Beast-mode running -- including a 60-yard scamper -- by Eddie Lacy, who ran for 141 yards on 21 carries and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season...the first Packers rookie running back to do so since the days of John Brockington. And the defense -- which was really bending the bend-don't-break model in the first half, turned it up in the second half and shut down a potent Cowboys offense. Part of that, one can assert, was the ongoing -- and mystifying -- play-calling help from the Cowboys of continuing to pass rather than run to take time off the clock...and, of course, expose themselves to turnovers, as was the case. How 'bout them Cowboys?!


It's still very possible to win the NFC North
So, here's how it lays out: if the Lions lose at home vs. Baltimore tonight -- or either of their other two remaining games against the Giants or Vikings -- and the Packers beat the Steelers this weekend at Lambeau Field and then win again at Chicago, the Packers win the NFC North. Of course, if Da Bearz lose at Philadelphia on Sunday, the road also becomes a bit clearer.

Incredible. Amazing it's still even a possibility after all this team has been through. If Aaron Rodgers gets his medical clearance this week, the game certainly becomes winnable even after a bit of a turnaround by the Steelers.

This will be a week to watch, Packer fans. All eyes will be on whether or not Aaron Rodgers returns under center. But we do know, based upon the come-from-behind victories these last two weeks, that they can win with Matt Flynn at quarterback. It might not be pretty, but it's possible.

Who'da thunk it? Who'da thunk it?

Go Pack Go!!!