The five-game losing streak is over.  And in spectacular fashion that added to the rich rivalry between two of the NFL’s marquee franchises.

With their season on the line, the Packers dug deep and delivered Sunday afternoon, edging the Dallas Cowboys, 31-28, in overtime on Mason Crosby’s 28-yard field.

This game was not for the faint of heart.

A crowd of 78,433 and a national television audience on FOX witnessed an epic Green Bay comeback that spoiled the return of former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to Lambeau Field.

Green Bay rallied from a 28-14 third-quarter deficit to tie the score in regulation on Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown passes of 39- and 7-yards to receiver Christian Watson, who rebounded from dropping two passes on the Packers’ first drive of the game to scoring three touchdowns on just four receptions to tie a franchise rookie record.

The Dallas defense had no answer for the rookie speedster and the Packers’ defense rose up to shut out quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense for the final 21 minutes of the contest.

The emotion was evident by both head coaches at their respective post-game press conferences.

Matt LaFleur choked up briefly as he praised the fight and resiliency of his team, which won a football game for the first time in 42 days.  Green Bay was 1-4 in October and hit rock bottom a week ago with a sobering loss to the lowly Lions.

“Man, it’s been a long time to stand up here and have a smile,” LaFleur told the assembled media.  “I’m super proud of our guys just being down 14 points in the fourth quarter.  Being able to battle back.  Obviously getting some key stops at critical times was huge for us and then to be able to convert some of those long drives into points.  I wasn’t happy with the way the fourth quarter two-minute situation ended, but our guys bailed me out, so I appreciate that from them.

“Dallas is a damn good football team. I’ve got a lot of respect for not only a lot of the players, but a lot of the coaches over there. . .  Just super proud of our guys.  It’s been too long to have that feeling to go in the locker room and see the sheer joy is something that is going to stick with me for a long time.

“You hope it propels you and gives you some confidence, because I do think it’s tough anytime you do go through stretch like that, it’s hard to shut out the negativity.  And that’s something that we talk about all the time, you have to believe in yourself, and you have to believe in the guys next to you. . .  We put a lot into this.  And it is tough at times. ..  it means a lot to us.  And to be down and fight and continue to fight, that’s what you want to see.”

McCarthy was obviously not happy with his team’s finish or some questionable penalties—and he banged on the podium to make his point.

“I am very frustrated with the end of the game obviously,” McCarthy said.  “I think just the biggest thing for us is we need to go there and just learn from these games.   I love these kinds of games.  You need these tight games to get to where you want to go.  I thought we were in total control, but in overtime you know obviously the penalties and things.  Very, very, very frustrating, but you have to overcome those things, and this group of men, they have it.  Just disappointing for them.

“There’s not a game that we’ve played this year that I didn’t feel like we could have or should have won. This game is definitely in that category.  I love this team. They play hard.  They do all the right things.  They are made of the right stuff.  They are accountable, they make adjustments, they pay attention.  We were totally in control of that game as far as our viewpoint.  I felt like when we got the ball (in overtime) that we were going to go down and score and then see what happens.  I’m very disappointed for the players because I thought they definitely did enough to win.” 

For 4-6 Green Bay, it was a step in the right direction as they chase the 8-1 Vikings, who won an overtime thriller of their own Sunday in Buffalo.  Rodgers rebounded from a three-interception performance in Detroit with a sterling 146.7 quarterback rating, completing 14 of 20 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns.

“Last week was definitely a low, rock-bottomish for sure,” Rodgers said.  “Not in a depressive, isolationism way, but more disappointment, and I felt like that was the bottom and it was only up from there.  I think a lot of the battles that we face are between I and I, between the person that can go out there and dominate, and knows that they can, and the little voice in your head that tries to knock you off that confident perch that you’re on.  I’m happy that I knocked that voice back into hell and had a good performance today.”

Rodgers was effective under center and utilizing play-action as LaFleur stayed committed to the run game.  Green Bay ran the ball 62% of the time—a first in the LaFleur era—and a blueprint for continued success.

The Packers’ 1-2 running punch of Aaron Jones (22 carries, 138 yards, 5.8 ave., one TD) and A.J.  Dillon (13 carries, 65 yards, 5.0 average) wore down the Dallas defense as the Green Bay offensive line paved the way.

“I just think the biggest thing is they played small ball,” McCarthy said.  “They attacked us in the run game and had success, had over 200 yards rushing.  That is the calling card against us.  We knew coming in that they had two backs that were going to run against us.  We have to be better there, and we will continue to work on it.  I thought that they tried to stay away from our pass rush as much as they can and took selective shots.  Obviously, the rookie (Watson) had a huge day on the crossing routes and obviously the vertical ball.  We are going to see it every week.  Everybody is going to try and run the ball against us because it is the way we are built.”

The Packers’ defense, gashed by CeeDee Lamb with 11 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns, held their own and came up with key stops in the fourth quarter.  Safety Rudy Ford intercepted two Prescott passes, including one in the first second quarter in the end zone with Dallas leading 7-0 to change the momentum of the game.

Rodgers capitalized by hitting Watson with a 58-yard bomb to tie the game, and Jones gave Green Bay a 14-7 lead on a 12-yard touchdown burst before Prescott knotted the contest again with eight seconds remaining before halftime with a five-yard touchdown toss to tight end Dalton Schultz.  Dallas dominated the third quarter and opened a 14-point cushion on Tony Pollard’s 13-yard touchdown run and Lamb’s 35-yard touchdown reception from Prescott.

Then the Green Bay comeback began.

“There were a lot of demons that were exorcised today,” Rodgers said.  “I think Tom (Fanning of Packers PR staff) showed me a stat about Dallas being ahead by 14 after three quarters and their record.  We were obviously on a really rough stretch, five (losses) in a row.   We hadn’t scored 30 points in a long time, it seems like. Christian (Watson) hadn’t had a receiving touchdown. There were a lot of things that we turned around today, just coincidence that Dallas was in town, although myself and the other Aaron on the team (Jones) have had pretty good performances over the years against Dallas.”

The Packers face another tough opponent in Tennessee on Thursday night at Lambeau Field on their uphill quest to earn an NFC playoff spot.   

“It’s going to be a short week, so I told the guys, ‘Hey, its Wednesday for them,’” LaFleur said.  “We’ve got a really good Tennessee Titans team, one of the better teams in the league coming in here on a short week, so those guys have to get their bodies back and their minds right to go out and battle because I know having been in Tennessee, and knowing the type of program that Mike Vrabel runs there.  It’s going to be a physical game and they are as tough as they come.  It will be a great challenge for us.  One that I know that we’ve got to get going on and try to get back and hit that reset button and get ready for.”