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  • Rodgers makes the nearly impossible look easy, leading the Packers in a 75-yard march downfield, culminating in a touchdown pass to Davante Adams to take down the Cowboys.
By Michael Beller
October 08, 2017

Three thoughts from the Packers 35-31 win over the Cowboys.

1. There’s only one Aaron Rodgers. One minute and 13 seconds, one timeout, 75 yards separating his team from victory and about 40 yards needed to get into range to tie the game with a field goal. The odds are against every quarterback in that situation, even Rodgers. Just to add to Rodgers’s degree of difficulty on this one, or maybe to give the Cowboys a fighting chance, Jordy Nelson was suddenly on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury.

That’s apparently no problem for the best quarterback in the league—somehow, Rodgers makes it seem like the odds are always in his favor. Rodgers started the drive by connecting with Davante Adams for a 14-yard gain. He ripped off 14 more on the next play with an athletic catch and run by Martellus Bennett. Two snaps later, a nifty play call resulted in a 15-yard run by Aaron Jones, who finished with 125 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in place of the injured Ty Montgomery. At this point, the Packers were in Mason Crosby’s range, meaning, at worst, they’d have a good shot at a field goal attempt that would tie the game at 31. Three plays later, it seemed that might be the best-case scenario.

Rodgers got flushed from the pocket on a third and eight, but beat two pursuing defenders to the edge. He turned it up field, easily got the first down and then some, scampering for 18 yards. It seemed almost academic after that. Rodgers and Adams hooked up for a 12-yard touchdown, giving the Packers a dramatic 35–31 win in Dallas.

2. But he did get some help from the other sideline. Before that incredible game-winning possession, it seemed Dak Prescott would be the hero of the game. Trailing 28–24, the Cowboys took possession with just less than 10 minutes left in the contest. Over the next eight minutes and 43 seconds of game time, they did just about everything right. Prescott opened the drive, which started at the Dallas 21-yard line, hitting Dez Bryant for a nine-yard gain. That began a 79-yard march that included a two third-down conversions and one fourth-down conversion, capped off by Prescott’s 11-yard touchdown run.

The lone misstep, however, came a player earlier. On second and two from the Green Bay 11-yard line, Prescott threw a fade to Dez Bryant. It fell to the ground incomplete, stopping the clock and allowing the Packers to preserve their final timeout. To be fair, the Cowboys needed to get into the end zone, and they can’t be overly concerned with how much time they’re leaving Rodgers, as lethal as he is. Still, a low percentage pass was an odd play call in that situation, and Ezekiel Elliott had softened up the Green Bay defense, getting up to 116 yards on 29 carries. That call was the one mistake Dallas made on an otherwise perfect drive. It also helped Rodgers and the Packers flip the game in the final minute and 13 seconds.

3. A shifting of power in the NFC East? The Cowboys are now 2-3, and while there’s certainly no shame in losing to the Packers or at Denver, and apparently none in losing to the Rams, either, the bottom line is they’re two games behind the Eagles. The Eagles haven’t exactly been world beaters, with their last three wins coming over the 0-5 Giants, 1-4 Chargers and 2-3 Cardinals, but they’ve mostly taken care of business this year. Their one loss was at Kansas City, though they were tied at the halfway point of the fourth quarter, and within a score until the final two minutes of the game.

The Cowboys and Eagles don’t meet until Week 11. The Cowboys have a bye next week, and come out of it with road games against the 49ers and Redskins. After that, they host the Chiefs and visit the Falcons before their first shot at the Eagles. The first-place team in the division, meanwhile, visits the Panthers next week before three straight home games against the Redskins, 49ers and Broncos. In other words, the Eagles are extremely likely to be in the driver’s seat in the NFC East when they get together with the Cowboys for the first time this season the week before Thanksgiving.

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