Packers renew deep-rooted rivalry with sputtering Cowboys

By: 

Gary Seymour, Leader Columnist

Peripheral drama usually isn’t necessary to produce fireworks when the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys get together.

The matter of who’s standing, sitting, singing, kneeling or burning a jersey takes a back seat to a rivalry fully steeped in big-game history.

Before the 1967 “Ice Bowl” – which many consider the most famous football game ever played – there was the late-game interception in the end zone that stopped the Cowboys and pushed the Packers into the first-ever Super Bowl.

Dallas fans still rue the no-catch call in the 2014 playoffs that negated a Dez Bryant reception at the Packer 1-yard line, killing a drive and ultimately enabling a 26-21 win for the Pack.

And, don’t get them started on last year’s playoff thriller.

Nearly one-fourth of the way through what is shaping up as one of the craziest seasons ever, the Packers enter Week 5 with the same 3-1 record they had last year when the Cowboys dismantled them at Lambeau Field, sending the Packers on a 5-of-6 losing streak.

Of course, past performances can be relied on for absolutely nothing about what to expect this Sunday. It’s a new season and after four games it’s still not clear who’s good and who’s not. Recent doormats like the Bills and Rams seem to be up, while the perennially contending Patriots and Giants are either down, or way down.

The 2-2 Cowboys may be searching for their bearings on the field, but for their part in the national anthem polemic, they fell in, all the way up the chain, with those doing the protesting. Dallas owner Jerry Jones got in on it, locking arms and taking a knee with his players at the Cowboys’ Monday night game in Arizona last week. Jones and his team returned to a vertical listening position before the start of the Rams game.

The other occurrence worth mentioning in the anthem demonstrations came at Baltimore, where the fans were asked over the public address system to join in a prayer for kindness, unity, equality and justice for all Americans.

The Ravens fans, obviously touched by the goodwill gesture, booed loudly. Apparently, either they didn’t like being told what to do, or they are trying to wrest the title of World’s Most Irritable Fans from Philadelphia, whose supporters once booed Santa Claus at halftime of an Eagles game before strafing him with a fusillade of snowballs.

As to the actual playing of the game of football, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 5-2 in his career against the Cowboys, including the 34-31 Division Round win at AT&T Stadium last January.

Oddly enough, that game was the first one Rodgers ever played at Dallas. His first six were all at Lambeau Field. The Packers did play at Dallas in 2013, winning 37-36 after trailing 26-3, but it was Matt Flynn shining for the Packers on that Sunday. Subbing for the injured Rodgers, Flynn’s career day included 299 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Rodgers, who is off to a fine start, will be calling signals this weekend, looking to exploit a Cowboys defense that allowed 42 and 35 points in their losses. Typically, as Rodgers goes, so go the Packers.

He lost a fumble inside the Cowboys’ 5-yard line in last year’s 30-16 regular-season defeat, was intercepted once and misfired to a few open receivers – to an extent where announcer Troy Aikman wondered out loud about Rodgers’ bewildering inaccuracy.

The rematch was another story. With 12 seconds left in a tie game, the Packers were on their own 32 with no time outs when Rodgers and Jared Cook connected on one of the most impressive forward pass collaborations in Packers history. The spectacular 36-yard completion set up Mason Crosby’s second field goal of 50 yards or farther in the last minute and a half, and Packer fans were sent off on a victory high that lasted for about a week.

The NFC title won’t be decided this Sunday, but the showdown in Dallas could provide answers to probing interrogatives such as, “How ‘bout them Packers?”

Veteran sportswriter Gary Seymour’s column appears weekly in the Leader. He can be contacted at sports@wolfrivermedia.com.