GREEN BAY - The game could be measured in boos and jeers.
They began quietly, with a few hundred people, as the 17th pass by quarterback Aaron Rodgers fell incomplete, and his total yardage remained steady at 74 late in the first half.
They swelled to a chorus on the Green Bay Packers’ final drive of the half, in the closing seconds, when Rodgers overthrew wide receiver Randall Cobb deep down the left side.
They roared in the second half of a game that was, by and large, a one-sided beatdown. First Rodgers threw an inexcusable interception directly into the chest of Dallas Cowboys safety Barry Church. Then he fumbled on a quarterback draw inside the 10-yard line, a few feet from a desperately needed touchdown. The quarterback who for years had been considered the best in the National Football League resembled something worse than mediocrity, and it was, quite frankly, stunning.
BOX SCORE: Cowboys 30, Packers 16
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Across the field, where the Cowboys have begun the season without starting quarterback Tony Romo and No. 1 wide receiver Dez Bryant, the offense hummed like an efficient machine. They dismantled the Packers behind a pair of rookies — quarterback Dak Prescott, a mid-round pick in the 2016 draft, and running back Ezekiel Elliott, chosen fourth overall — immolated a defense ranked atop the league in rushing yards allowed and yards per carry. And in the back end, where the Packers finished without their top three cornerbacks, all of whom were injured, Prescott completed timely passes for crushing gains.
It ended in a rout: Cowboys 30, Packers 16.
Turning point: Late in the first half, Rodgers and the offense took possession of the football with 1:39 remaining and a 4-point deficit. A successful burst of 2-minute offense could have given the Packers the lead and salvaged a dreary first half. At the very least, a field goal would have pulled them within a single point. But the offense went three-and-out, emblematic of their struggles throughout the game. The Cowboys took over at their own 3-yard line with 1 minute on the clock. What happened next was remarkable. Led by a rookie quarterback, and without their No. 1 receiver, Dez Bryant, the Cowboys covered 97 yards in 33 seconds — preposterous, really — and finished with a 20-yard pass from Prescott to Brice Butler. The touchdown gave the Cowboys a double-digit lead they never relinquished.
Big number: 191 — Rushing yards allowed by the No. 1 rush defense in the National Football League. The Packers came in as the stingiest group against the run, and the Cowboys entered with the most productive ground game. The end result was a landslide victory for the Cowboys and rookie tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for 157 yards on 28 carries.
What went right: Kicker Mason Crosby made all three of his field goal attempts and remained perfect on the season. He connected from 37 yards, 43 yards and 34 yards. The return game was strong for the Packers. Rookie wide receiver Trevor Davis sliced around the right side for a 25-yard punt return, and fellow wideout Ty Montgomery had a 40-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter. Beyond that, there was almost nothing to be happy about.
What went wrong: So, so much. It began on the first drive of the game, when the Cowboys took possession at their own 25-yard line. They marched 75 yards on eight plays and scored a touchdown with ease, capped off by a 1-yard pass from Prescott to slot receiver Cole Beasley. It continued when the Packers settled for field goals on two drives that each lasted nine plays. There was a horrendous interception by Rodgers, which led to a field goal, and a brutal fumble by Rodgers a few feet from the end zone. There was a heinous fumble by wide receiver Jordy Nelson. There was a 97-yard drive by the Cowboys that took about as much time as a basketball shot clock. The defense gave up 245 yards in the first half. The offense turned the ball over and could not take advantage of clean pockets. And that was just the first three quarters.
Check back later for complete coverage of the game from the Green Bay Press-Gazette and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.