Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) catches a pass against
Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) during the second
GREEN BAY, Wis. —
No need for ice and wind and record low temperatures.
Even in relatively balmy conditions for Green Bay, and with a
somewhat stationary All-Pro quarterback, the Packers survived
against the Dallas Cowboys.
Green Bay rallied from an 8-point deficit as Aaron Rodgers threw
for two second-half touchdowns to beat Dallas 26-21 Sunday. The
Packers (13-4), helped immensely by a video reversal with 4:06
remaining, went undefeated at Lambeau Field this season. They head
to Seattle next weekend for the NFC title game.
The Seahawks (13-4) beat Green Bay in the season opener, 36-16.
"I think I got 120 minutes left in me," Rodgers said.
Dez Bryant's leaping, bobbling catch at the Packers 1 on
fourth-and-2 was reversed by referee Gene Steratore after Green Bay
challenged. Instead of first-and-goal for Dallas (13-5), the ball
went over to the Packers.
"Some people think throwing the red flag is fun," Packers coach
Mike McCarthy said. "It was such an impactful play, you had to
challenge. It was a confident challenge. And a hopeful one, too."
Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew
Quarless (81) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker
Anthony Hitchens (59) during the second half.
Green Bay closed it out before a
Lambeau-record 79,704 on Randall Cobb's diving 12-yard reception on
third-and-11. That gave Cobb eight catches for 116 yards and set off
a raucous celebration at the iconic venue.
"Well, I was happy it went the right way," Rodgers said of the
reversal. "That's one of those plays that could go either way."
The Cowboys' first postseason trip to Green Bay since the 1967 Ice
Bowl for the NFL championship resulted in their first road defeat of
the season after eight victories. Dallas got 123 yards rushing from
league leader DeMarco Murray and a courageous effort from Tony Romo,
who hurt his left leg in the third quarter.
That meant there were two hobbling quarterbacks. All-Pro Rodgers,
bothered by a left calf he injured in Game 15, lost much of his
trademark elusiveness as the game wore on.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) walks on the field and
greets Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) after an
NFL divisional playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 26-21.
But he was on-target for a short pass
to Davante Adams that turned into the 41-yard score to make it
21-20. Then he sharply guided the Packers 80 yards to the winning
points, a 13-yard bullet to backup tight end Richard Rodgers in the
back of the end zone.
Murray atoned in style for a third-quarter fumble, gaining 32 yards
on the Cowboys' ensuing possession, including a 29-yard sprint one
play after Romo hurt his leg. The hobbling Romo handed to Murray for
the 1-yard plunge that made it 21-13, then limped to the bench for
treatment on the leg.
When he came back in, Romo was sacked on consecutive plays, the
first ending the third period, the second forcing a punt.
Rodgers stood firm in firing over the middle to Adams, who cut
right, shrugged off a weak tackle by J.J. Wilcox and sped into the
end zone. The 90-yard drive got the Lambeau faithful back into it.
Then came the decisive series on which Rodgers went 7 for 7. He
finished 24 for 35 for 316 yards and extended his record string
without a home interception to 442. He has 39 TD passes in that
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo speaks at a news conference after
an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay
Adams had seven catches for 117 yards.
Rodgers looked fine on a precise opening series. Of course, he
mostly handed to Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 45 yards on the 60-yard
drive. But Rodgers had to step up away from the rush and did so
spryly before hitting Andrew Quarless in the back of the end zone.
Back came Dallas with just as efficient a possession that took 7:25.
Tyler Clutts was wide open at the goal line for his 1-yard TD catch.
Rodgers got Green Bay close on its next drive, but was clapping his
hands when rookie Corey Linsley snapped the ball. Rodgers dropped
it, recovered, but then was hit by Jerome Mincey, who grabbed the
It was a rare turnover for the Packers, who tied for the league lead
with only 13 giveaways. Cornerback Tramon Williams' botched tackle
attempt on a short pass to Terrance Williams turned into a 38-yard
TD and the Cowboys led 14-7.
Green Bay had not trailed at Lambeau since Week 2 against the Jets.
But it drew closer at halftime thanks to a 31-yard completion to
Cobb that set up Mason Crosby's 40-yard field goal.
Crosby added a 30-yarder in the third quarter, making him the
franchise's career points leader. But Green Bay could have had more.
After recovering Murray's fumble at the Dallas 44 and getting to the
13, a 15-yard personal foul on guard T.J. Lang set the Packers back.
But not for long.
NFC championship game set: Packers at Seahawks
Look out, 12th Man: Here come the Green Bay Packers.
The Seattle Seahawks and the Packers are set for an NFC championship
showdown in a rematch of this season's NFL opener.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns and the
Packers rallied from an 8-point deficit to beat the Dallas Cowboys
26-21 on Sunday and advance to the conference title game for the
first time in four years.
The Packers (13-4) will travel to Seattle (13-4) next Sunday to face
the defending Super Bowl champions, who dominated Green Bay in a
36-16 win Sept. 4. The Seahawks opened as seven-point favorites in
Rodgers overcame a calf injury that limited his mobility to lead the
Packers over the Cowboys. His 13-yard TD pass to backup tight end
Richard Rodgers in the fourth quarter gave Green Bay the lead for
A video review reversed a 31-yard catch by Dez Bryant to the Packers
1 on fourth-and-2, and the Cowboys didn't get the ball back.
"I'll do everything I can to get ready to go to Seattle and play a
great team," Rodgers said.
In the AFC, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (13-4) were
waiting to find out if they would host the Denver Broncos or
The Packers finished the season 9-0 at Lambeau Field, but they'll
have to go on the road to face a team with a similar home-field
advantage in a noisy environment created by the 12th Man. The
Seahawks are 25-2 at CenturyLink Field in quarterback Russell
Wilson's three years, including 8-1 this season.
In Week 1, Marshawn Lynch ran for 110 yards and two TDs as the
Seahawks blew past Green Bay. Rodgers was 23 of 33 for 189 yards,
one TD and one interception. He looked almost exclusively for Jordy
Nelson matched up against Byron Maxwell and never threw in Richard
Eddie Lacy, who ran for 101 yards against the Cowboys, was mostly a
non-factor at Seattle with 34 yards rushing on 12 carries and left
in the fourth quarter with a concussion.
Brady and the Patriots will meet Peyton Manning and the Broncos in
the title game for the second straight year if Denver beats the
Colts. Manning led the Broncos to a 26-16 win at home against the
Patriots a year ago.
It would be the fourth time Brady and Manning went head-to-head in
the AFC title game. The first two came when Manning played for the
Colts. The Patriots won in 2004, Indy in 2007.
Brady ran his record to 11-5 against Manning with a 43-21 victory
over the Broncos at Gillette Stadium in Week 9.
If Andrew Luck guides Indianapolis to an upset at Denver, the Colts
would return to the AFC championship game for the first time since
Manning led them past the New York Jets in January 2010. The
Patriots beat the Colts 42-20 on the road in Week 11.
Why Dez's catch wasn't a catch in
For a league that already has The Catch and The
Drive, this incomplete pass may go down as The Reversal.
The Cowboys' Dez Bryant appeared to make spectacular 31-yard catch
on fourth down to give Dallas the ball a yard away from the go-ahead
touchdown in the final minutes of Sunday's 26-21 divisional round
playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Replays showed that Bryant bobbled the ball as he rolled into the
end zone, with part of it touching the field. After reviewing the
play, officials overturned the call, saying Bryant didn't maintain
control all the way to the ground.
The rule states:
"If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with
or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the
ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the
field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and
the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is
incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the
ground, the pass is complete."
Bryant said there was never a doubt in his mind that he caught the
"I had possession of the ball coming down. That's possession, right?
One, two, reach," Bryant said. "Bam, that's possession."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he thought Bryant got his feet
down, then made a move common to the game.
"Dez reached out to the goal line like he's done so many times,"
Bryant said. "It's a signature play for him. He maintained
possession of it throughout, in my opinion."
Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields said the call was a relief on a
play that could have been a touchdown at a critical point.
"These playoff games come down to the inches. A good call on the
refs. He went up for the ball and made a good catch," Shields said.
Athletes, celebrities and others quickly weighed in on the ruling.
Odell Beckham Jr., the receiver for the rival Giants who made his
share of dazzling catches as a rookie, tweeted: "I by no means cheer
for Dallas but I have no idea what or how thts not called a catch .
Thts a joke."
The Detroit Lions also chimed in. Their star receiver, Calvin
Johnson, had a similar catch reversed in 2010, and they also were
stung last week in the wild-card round against the Cowboys when the
officials picked up a flag that would have given them a critical
fourth-quarter first down.
They tweeted: "Sorry @dallascowboys. We know the feeling," with a
link to the Megatron play and the hashtag "CompletingTheProcess."
The NFL has used the Johnson play in explaining the rule to coaches