Green Bay – Mike Ditka stated before the Packers-Cowboys game that defense usually prevails when a No. 1-ranked offense matches up against a No. 1-rated defense.
Not Sunday at Lambeau Field.
On an afternoon the franchise honored former quarterback Brett Favre by adding his name to the façade at Lambeau Field with the team’s other hall of famers, Green Bay turned in an ugly performance marred by four turnovers in a 30-16 defeat to Dallas on a picture-perfect fall afternoon before 78,481 fans.
The Packers entered the game with the NFL’s best run defense, allowing just 42 yards a game and 2 yards per rush. Two Cowboy rookies lived up to their billing on a national stage, as quarterback Dak Prescott outplayed former league MVP Aaron Rodgers and running back Ezekiel Elliott gashed the Green Bay defense for 157 yards on 28 carries.
Prescott completed 18 of 27 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns and a sterling 117.4 passer rating, compared to Rodgers’ 90.8 rating. He maintained his poise throughout the game and overcame a lost fumble and the first interception of his career.
“With Dak, his demeanor never changes—you wouldn’t know if he just threw a TD pass or an interception,” said center Travis Fredrick, a former UW Badger star. “And we love to block for a guy that finishes his runs like Ezekiel.”
Elliott, behind the veteran Dallas offensive line, was a workhorse with a 5.6-yard average per carry. He ran over, around, and through the Green Bay defense, and fittingly carried on the final four plays for 12 yards as Dallas gained a first down and ran out the last 2:29 on the clock in the 30-16 victory.
Dallas set the tone early, driving 75 yards on eight plays for a touchdown on its first possession and increased the margin to 17-6 at halftime, by virtue of a stunning 97-yard drive in 33 seconds just before intermission.
“That was definitely a disappointing performance,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. “As I review the game, we have a standard that we have to play to, especially with an excellent opponent in the Dallas Cowboys. We didn’t hit that today.”
The Packers uncharacteristically had five fumbles, losing three, and Rodgers threw one interception. Rodgers lost a key fumble on a quarterback draw at the Dallas 4-yard line late in the third quarter, blowing a chance to cut into the 20-6 deficit.
“That’s what we’ll figure out here watching this film,” said Rodgers, who completed 31 of 42 passes for 294 yards. “We’re hard on ourselves. I’m as hard as anybody on myself, so I’m going to get it fixed.”
There is plenty to address with the Green Bay offense, which has yet to find its identity and continued to misfire with occasional drops by receivers and misfires to open receivers by Rodgers.
“This was definitely not his best day,” McCarthy said. “Taking care of the football is a priority for every quarterback in the game of football.”
With the loss, Green Bay fell to 3-2 on the season and two full games behind the idle 5-0 Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North Division. A silver lining for the Packers is they only have four days before playing the 1-5 Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field Thursday night and must quickly move on from the disappointing Dallas defeat.