In a stunning turn of events, the Green Bay Packers pulled off maybe the upset of the year Sunday by soundly beating the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 17 – 7. After blowing a big lead and then losing to arguably the worst team in the NFL last week, this week the Packers’ defense and special teams turned their intensity up to high and shocked a very talented Cowboy team.
There was lots of pressure on the Packers to perform after laying the egg last week. The Packers have underperformed during most of the first half of the season and a loss to the Cowboys would have doomed their 2009 season. With the victory the Packers regain their confidence and with a record of 5 – 4, they are back in business with a shot to make the playoffs as a potential wild card participant.
This game was scoreless for the first 29 minutes and 58 seconds when Mason Crosby hit on a 48-yard field goal to end the first half. The Packer defense was outstanding holding the potent Cowboy offense to just 111 yards of total offense in the first half. But the Packer offense sputtered again with the same old bone-headed penalties and lack of competence from the offensive line. The third quarter was more of the same until the very end when the Packers finally put together an 80-yard, 15-play drive that ended with a touchdown via quarterback sneak which gave the Pack a 10 – 0 lead.
On the ensuing drive the Packers unleashed cornerback Charles Woodson on a blitz who forced his second fumble turnover of the game. Such quickly led to another Packer touchdown and a 17 – 0 lead with 11 minutes left in the game. Woodson wasn’t done yet as he then intercepted the Cowboys’ quarterback as they were driving at the goal line which sealed the victory. Woodson was phenomenal. His statistics on the day were 9 tackles, a sack, an interception and the two forced fumbles. Woodson singlehandedly caused three turnovers and will surely be an all-pro selection this year.
This much-needed win came against a very good Cowboy team, but the Packers still have some unresolved problems. Penalties continue to be a major concern. The Packers came into this game leading the league with 62 and added another 12 against the Cowboys. There is a discipline problem on this team. Also of concern is the rag-tag play of the offensive line. Allen Barbre was thankfully benched for this game and replaced by T. J. Lang at right tackle. Lang is better than Barbre but why did it take the Packers’ coaches eight games to figure that out? Daryn Colledge and Chad Clifton continue to remain major liabilities, but the offensive line talent problems will have to be addressed after the season ends.
Despite this team’s shortcomings, the upset victory over the Cowboys was a great team win largely due to the tremendous effort of the defense and especially Charles Woodson. The Packers will savor that for a bit and then prepare for the San Francisco 49ers who invade Lambeau next week. The 49ers have a great linebacker in Patrick Willis and a very good running back in Frank Gore. Nonetheless, the 49er game is a very winnable one for the Pack. But so was the Buccaneers game so we shall see.