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Snap Judgments

Musings, observations and the occasional insight from the NFC's Game of the Year, won by the hometown Cowboys over those plucky Packers of Green Bay (who just might meet again in January) ...

• This is just my unscientific quick take from high up in the Texas Stadium press box, but you can score one for the league office in its battle to leverage the NFL Network's eight-game regular-season package against the powers-that-be in big cable.

NFL fans who missed the Cowboys' 37-27 shootout win on Thursday night really missed something. It was a big-play-strewn and wildly entertaining game that had a little bit of everything -- including an injury that knocked the indestructible Brett Favre from the field in the first half.

If you thought the simmering debate between the league and big cable was getting heated before this one, you ain't seen nothing yet. Look for public opinion to really mount on behalf of whatever it takes to get the network's games televised to a wider audience than 30 percent or so of the nation's cable households.

Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, ... oh, yeah, I remember that guy. Went to Cal? Taken high in the draft -- but not as high as he expected -- a few years back? Yeah. I wondered whatever happened to him. Who knew he was with Green Bay?

• After Rodgers threw his first career touchdown pass late in the first half, all I could think of was: Quarterback controversy in Green Bay? Who's with me on this one? Anyone?

• Brett Favre has been turning back the clock all season. But this time, unfortunately for Green Bay, he turned it back to 2005, when he was just out there under heavy pressure and heaving the ball around -- far too often to the wrong color jersey.

Surprisingly, it was Favre who played a little out of control Thursday night, like you'd expect from a younger quarterback in a big-game setting. Then again, Favre was getting hammered pretty regularly by the Cowboys pass rush at the time. That had more than a little something to do with it.

Favre was just 5 of 14 for 56 yards, with two interceptions and a ghastly 8.9 quarterback rating when he was knocked from the game midway through the second quarter with a right forearm/elbow injury.

• You have to give the Cowboys credit for following their game plan perfectly against Favre, consistently pressuring him into mistakes and poor throws. The speed of the Dallas front seven was more than Favre could handle; but did you notice how the tide turned when the younger Rodgers entered the game and started making a few plays outside of the pocket and rolling to his right? Suddenly the Cowboys defense looked a step slow and the Packers started to generate some offensive rhythm for the first time all night.

Rodgers has been the butt of plenty of jokes in his three seasons of backing up Favre, but I'll say this much for him: He was ready for his close-up when the Packers needed to turn to him in a big game. That's all you can ask of your No. 2.

• Are we really ready to remember Cowboys reserve cornerback Nathan Jones as the guy who broke the streak, and called a halt to one of the greatest accomplishments in sports -- Favre's 269 consecutive starts (including playoffs)? That's what we're facing if Favre doesn't return to start Green Bay's Dec. 9 home game against Oakland.

• Come to think of it, why does it always seem like whenever Favre does get injured, he has a few extra days to rehabilitate his ailment before the Packers' next game? That's where a Thursday night game comes in extremely handy for Green Bay.

• I can't be positive, but I do believe I saw Terrell Owens try to bobble away homefield advantage in this season's NFC title game in the fourth quarter. That's how big his drop of a sure-fire touchdown-turned-Al-Harris-interception could have been. You dodged a big pair of goat horns that time, T.O.

• But if you're going to blame Owens, you have to praise him, too. His seven-catch, 156-yard, one-touchdown showing was hugely important to the Cowboys' win. Drops and all.

• Fourth-and-2 from the Packers' 31 and the Cowboys give it to Julius Jones instead of battering ram Marion Barber? Somebody find out exactly what offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was thinking.

I wouldn't take Barber off the field if I were the Cowboys. Ever. The guy dishes out more punishment on a typical run than most NFL linebackers do all game.

• The play of the game in my book? That 35-yard Tony Romo to Patrick Crayton pass on third-and-19 from the Dallas 11 late in the third quarter. Absolutely everything was going Green Bay's way in the previous quarter-plus before that momentum turner.

• This much we now know: Jarrett Bush is no Charles Woodson. The Cowboys second-year reserve cornerback, playing in place of the injured Woodson (toe), was beaten like a dirty rug by Romo in the first half. Bush was the not-too-defending defender on the first two Cowboys touchdowns -- passes of three yards to Crayton and 26 yards to tight end Anthony Fasano. He also got called for a 40-yard pass interference penalty on Dallas receiver Miles Austin, which gave the Cowboys the ball at the Packers' 10 and set up their third touchdown.

Injuries determine so much of who wins and who loses in the NFL, but you tend to forget until you see how much the drop-off in talent level can be between a first and second-teamer.

• Maybe it's cliché, but the pregame moment of silence in memory of murdered Redskins safety Sean Taylor was a gesture that felt right. In addition, players on both teams wore decals on their helmets that featured Taylor's No. 21 jersey number.

• What was up with referee John Parry and his officiating crew wearing their long-pants, cold-weather duds? They looked kind of silly given that it was pretty darn mild Thursday night at Texas Stadium. Maybe they psyched themselves out by watching too much of that old Ice Bowl footage.

And for the record, Parry and Co. had a pretty ragged night from this vantage point. There were several questionable calls on both sides.

• Speaking of which, Al Harris stole that catch right out of Owens' hands. You know it. I know it. And I promise you, T.O. knows it. Green Bay got jobbed on that one, probably because the play was so surprising, it slipped past even the side judge.

Don Meredith. Roger Staubach. Danny White. Troy Aikman. None of them ever threw for as many as 30 touchdowns in a season for the Cowboys. But Tony Romo has (he's actually up to 33), and he needed less than 12 full games this year to set the franchise record.

• Wow. Packers running back Ryan Grant was through the Dallas defensive front seven so quickly on his 62-yard first-quarter touchdown run that Cowboys safeties Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin barely knew what blew past them.

• I couldn't be more impressed with this game's two rookie kickers, the Cowboys' Nick Folk and the Packers' Mason Crosby. They both look like they don't even sweat.

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