What an incredible win. A miracle many would say. Unbelievable turnaround victory. Awesome reversal of football fortunes. Best second half of football seen in a long time. All of the above and more could be said of the Green Bay Packers comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 37 – 36. Yes, it was a thrilling turn of events which allowed the Packers to keep their 2013 playoff hopes alive. Cheeseheads got a victory memory to last a lifetime.
This game started out eerily reminiscent of the Thanksgiving Day fiasco in Detroit. The Packers couldn’t do anything right. It was frustrating and awful football. In the first quarter the Cowboys racked up 192 offensive yards to a mere 32 for the Packers. Quarterback Matt Flynn looked terrible but he was just one of a dozen Packers who looked like they had mailed in the season. By halftime Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo and his crew had run up a 26 – 3 lead and even the most die-hard Cheeseheads were considering throwing things at their television.
Whatever Mike McCarthy told his troops during the half time ought to be bottled and sold, as the team came out in the second half fired up and recharged. The waters started to part when Eddie Lacy scampered 60 yards on the first play of the opening-drive, setting up a Flynn to Jordy Nelson touchdown pass. The comeback was underway. That would be the first of five consecutive touchdowns the Flynn-led Packer offense would produce to overcome the 23-point halftime deficit. It was the largest comeback in team history.
The big plays came so fast in the second half that space in this column couldn’t accommodate them all. On offense, Flynn redeemed his awful first half performance with four touchdown passes, Andrew Quarless followed up on his strong performance from last week, and rookie Eddie Lacy cemented his case for offensive rookie of the year. Lacy’s game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with just over a minute remaining was my favorite play of the year. McCarthy inserted behemoth defensive linemen Mike Daniels and B. J. Raji as twin fullbacks in a wishbone alignment. As the line surged, Lacy catapulted himself over everybody and landed five yards deep in the end zone. It was an awesome play for the Packer Hall of Fame archives.
On defense the kudos have to go to Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, both of whom came up with key interceptions late in the game. Pressure by Clay Matthews III caused the errant pass that Shields intercepted. It came at a critical time. On special teams, Mason Crosby kicked a 57-yard field goal. Crosby, who was horribly inaccurate last year, has had a sterling season in 2013.
To top off this incredible game, the Detroit Lions lost their game Monday night. That means that the Packers’ playoff hopes are very much alive. The Packers can win the North Division and enter the 2013 playoff sweepstakes if they win their final two games. It is as simple as that.
The work starts next week at Lambeau against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers looked good Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, but they ain’t the Steelers of previous decades and likely will be slight underdogs against the surging Packers next week, especially if Aaron Rodgers is healthy enough to play. It will be interesting to see how Mike McCarthy parlays this highly-emotional win over the Cowboys into the final two games of the regular season.