While I typically pride myself on staying calm and rational during games, the Green Bay Packers win over the Dallas Cowboys has left me with some serious heart fatigue. While we know about the out-of-this-world performance by Aaron Rodgers, and the fantastic play from Jared Cook, Mason Crosby, and Micah Hyde, I’m going to take a look at the other players who rose up to Beat them Cowboys.
Kenny Clark – Kenny Clark spent most of his time on the field in the Cowboys backfield. He got a lot of attention for reading and scraping on the screen pass, but didn’t get noticed for many plays where he caused Ezekiel Elliott to make a cut in the backfield. He turned some 8 yard runs into 4 yard runs, and he forced Dak Prescott to feel uncomfortable on several occasions. Clark has been quiet this season, but saved his best game for the playoffs.
Offensive Line – Just another absolutely dominant performance. There were two very scary plays where David Bakhtiari and TJ Lang appeared to be injured, but both were able to return. They absolutely stoned the Cowboys pass rush, and were great in the run game on the goal line. They have turned into one of the best units in all of football, which will make free agency this offseason very interesting. Bakhtiari not being a Pro Bowler is a crime.
One complaint: the stretch play with Jason Spriggs as an extra linemen never works. Let’s scrap that one.
Ty Montgomery – Montgomery had a quiet day as a runner, but looked sharp when called upon. He had a really nice play on the screen pass that keyed the final drive, but I mention him more for his blocking. He missed Jeff Heath on one of the sacks, but on several occasions made key blocks to keep Aaron Rodgers upright. Having him in the game as a blocker is a nice benefit because Linebackers have to respect the Packers ability to hand it to him or send him on a route out of the backfield.
Nick Perry – The Packers pass rush was horrendous, but Perry was the lone bright spot. He found ways to pressure Prescott with one hand, and made a gigantic play to deflect a pass on the Cowboys last drive.
Kentrell Brice – Brice has quietly played well, but was forced into Morgan Burnett’s role after his injury. Yes, he dropped what should have been an Interception (Hyde saved him up later in the drive), but he was in position more than he was out of it, and showed the speed and striking ability that made him such an interesting prospect. Brice was my player to watch of the undrafted free agents, and he’s been doing a good job of proving me right.
Give Gunter a Break – After a really strong performance against the Giants, LaDarius Gunter had a rough week. Frankly, he got beat like a drum by Dez Bryant. But, while some over-reactionary people think he’s worthless, I’d offer a defense for the Packers young CB. In the Giants game, Gunter was given a lot of help over the top. Dom Capers decided to use his Safeties to help stop the run, and a second year undrafted CB was left one-on-one with one the NFL’s premier WRs. He’s probably going to be shadowing Julio Jones next week, and we could see a repeat performance with the Packers needing to commit a lot of resources to stop Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. He’s doing the best he can in a really bad situation, and I expect him to have a better game against the Falcons.
Play of the Game – Okay, the Rodgers to Cook pass was the play of the game. And then Crosby’s kicks are second and third. But the Cowboys spiking the ball on first down with 49 seconds to go bailed out the Packers. The defense was struggling to stop anything, and the Cowboys decided to sacrifice a play to stop the clock with a Timeout in their pocket. It ended up leading to an eventual 3rd down stop, and gave the Packers enough time to get down the field and kick the game winning FG. Plays like this make me feel fortunate the Packers have the best QB in the game at the helm, who always seems to make the right decisions in crunch time.
One more game to the Super Bowl! GO PACK GO!Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig