With major media pundits all expecting the Green Bay Packers to lose their NFC Wild Card matchup to the Dallas Cowboys, there really is no sweeter form of revenge. Well, beating Mike McCarthy could be one of the few things that are better.
In their 48-32 beat down, the Packers led the charge from the opening kickoff to the final snap of the fourth quarter. Led by a charged-up Jordan Love making his first career playoff start, Green Bay was in the driver’s seat from their first drive.
Defensively, Joe Barry let off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter that allowed the Cowboys to get back into the game, but overall his playcalling was solid, holding a super Dallas offense down for most of the contest. Having Jaire Alexander suit up really helped the secondary, forcing Dak Prescott into a lot of secondary reads.
While a late-game incompletion after being replaced by Sean Clifford took away his perfect passer rating, Love was incredible. Only needing to make 21 pass attempts, Love had five incompletions, 272 passing yards, and three touchdowns on his way to yet another strong performance.
Matt LaFleur was in his bag all day, calling a masterful offensive gameplan. 32 carries versus 21 passing attempts helped the flow of the offense remain consistent all game, as LaFleur relied on his two offensive stalwarts, Love and Aaron Jones.
Jones continued his domination of the Cowboys, going for 131 total yards and three rushing touchdowns. While Green Bay was without AJ Dillon, it was Jones who was in his vintage form, averaging almost six yards per carry.
In the passing game, Love was spreading the ball around again, connecting with eight different receivers. But his favorite target actually was one of the forgotten about options, Romeo Doubs, who hauled in a team-best six passes (on six targets) for 151 yards and a score.
Other players who scored included Dontayvion Wicks (2/25/1) and Luke Musgrave (3/52/1) – and the biggest surprise of the entire offensive performance is that Jayden Reed accrued zero total yards all game.
The unsung hero of this entire game was the offensive line, who paved the way for Jones and helped keep Love’s jersey clean all day. Micah Parsons is one of the best pass rushers in the league, and his day was very quiet when it was all said and done.
It is tough to give Barry any credit, especially after Dallas was able to put up 16 points in the fourth quarter to keep things interesting. But he did dial up some key pressures when needed, and even when Alexander was forced out with an ankle injury, the secondary hung tough and helped limit the Dallas receivers.
While Prescott did throw for over 400 yards, it took 60 attempts and 41 completions, which averages out to be almost seven yards per completion. In comparison, Love averaged a solid 13 yards per completion on almost a third of Prescott’s attempts.
Prescott was forced into two interceptions, one of which was taken back for a score. Alexander hauled in the first one when Dallas was still deep in their own territory, and the other saw Darnell Savage jump an inside route and take it all the way back.
This was the moment I blacked out— Eli Berkovits (@BookOfEli_NFL) January 15, 2024
The pass rush was strong all game, as Keisean Nixon, De’Vondre Campbell, Lukas Van Ness, and Preston Smith all took Prescott down for a sack. Nixon tied Quay Walker for the team lead with 11 tackles, and Nixon also recorded two pass defenses in the win.
While the game script forced Dallas’ hand to turn into more of a passing attack, the Green Bay front seven kept Tony Pollard in check, as he only went for 87 total yards on 22 touches. CeeDee Lamb (9/110) and Jake Ferguson (10/93/3) were the leaders in the passing game, but even their impacts didn’t feel massive, even if the stats are.
All in all, this was a complete masterclass from Green Bay on both sides of the ball. With a trip to play the 49ers next week next up for the Packers, it is important to revel in the success that we just witnessed.
For a team that was picked by many to not even sniff the postseason, it at first just felt good to be here. And now after having won a game we weren’t supposed to, it feels like we belong.
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23