In what has become an all too familiar theme for the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers and the offense played poorly once again en route to a 30-16 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.
The loss dropped Green Bay to 3-2, while rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott helped guide the Cowboys to a 5-1 start.
The game followed a similar trend from the Packers’ past 16 games. Rodgers has still not returned to his former status as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, the offense failed to sustain any momentum, and the defense remained the team’s best unit but just couldn’t continue to bail Green Bay out.
Prescott had his interception-less streak snapped in the third quarter, but thoroughly outplayed Rodgers as he threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns to continue his impressive rookie campaign. Elliott pummeled the Packers’ number one ranked rushing defense, piling up 157 yards on 28 carries.
The Cowboys’ rookie signal-caller spread the ball around for Dallas, connecting with six different receivers. Cole Beasley had two touchdowns, while Terrance Williams led the Cowboys with 75 yards.
On the other sideline, Green Bay’s offense remained stagnant. Rodgers threw for a season-high 294 yards (though much of it came in garbage time) and a too-little-too-late touchdown to Randall Cobb, but missed a lot of open receivers—including a wide open Cobb in the end zone—and had a costly interception.
As a team, the Packers committed four turnovers and had another possession end on downs. Jordy Nelson lost a fumble on the team’s second possession, Dallas stripped Rodgers at the Cowboys’ five-yard line, and Ty Montgomery coughed the ball up on Green Bay’s final attempt at a comeback.
Despite giving up 30 points and getting beat by the league’s top rusher, the Packers’ defense still played pretty well, all things considered. They held Dallas to just three points following the four turnovers, including forcing two turnovers on those drives. Dom Capers’ unit did pretty well at getting off the field, limiting Dallas to just a 3/11 conversion rate on third downs.
The worst drive came at the end of the first half, when the Cowboys went 97 yards in just 33 seconds thanks to blown coverages by LaDarius Gunter and Mike McCarthy calling time outs to try and get another offensive possession before halftime.
Down 17-6 at the half, the Packers were still in a position to mount a comeback. But Rodgers’ two turnovers came on Green Bay’s first two drives of the second half, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The interception came on a terrible throw that went straight to Barry Church, and the fumble happened right when the offense finally looked to be hitting its stride.
Green Bay scored a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to back to 11, but Dallas kicked a field goal on its ensuing drive. The Packers committed their final turnover on one last comeback attempt which allowed the Cowboys to run out the clock.
While the contest featured significantly more bad takeaways than good from the Packers, there were a few positives that emerged. Ty Montgomery, despite losing a late fumble, led the team with 10 catches for 98 yards and looked like the dynamic weapon the Packers hoped for when they drafted him last season. Eddie Lacy played admirably through an injured ankle to rack up 65 rushing yards, and was an energetic bright spot when the rest of the offense looked flat. The offensive line remained excellent in pass protection, giving Rodgers plenty of time to find receivers when they were not immediately open.
But in the end, the bad outweighed the good. Green Bay scored a touchdown on just one of its four red zone possessions, and while four turnovers is bad enough, the Packers put two other balls on the ground in the game. Davante Adams, Damarious Randall and Bryan Bulaga all suffered injuries in the game.
The Packers now have a short week to get things figured out. They play Thursday night at Lambeau against the division rival Chicago Bears, who are coming off a 17-16 loss to the Jaguars. At 3-2, the season is far from over for Green Bay, but the Packers (and their fans) need a win next week to help overcome their early season struggles and get back on track.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .