Plenty of star power when Packers visit Cowboys

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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The Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott fends off  Packers safety Kentrell Brice in the second quarter during their NFC divisional playoff game, Jan. 15 n Arlington, Texas.

Fifth in a 13-part series on the opponents the Green Bay Packers will face during the 2017 regular season.

GREEN BAY - It doesn’t quite match the late 1960s or mid-1990s, but the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys have rekindled one of the NFL’s longest rivalries in recent years.

Since 2015, the Packers and Cowboys have played five times in four seasons, twice in the NFC divisional round. The Packers have gotten the edge, winning four including each of the playoff games.

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They will renew their rivalry Oct. 8 when the Packers return to Dallas for a game in which the Cowboys surely will be seeking revenge. There have been no shortage of epic Packers postseason games in the past few seasons, but perhaps none have been better than their white-knuckle, 34-31 win in Dallas last January when they upset the top-seeded Cowboys.

Here are three things to know about the Cowboys.

» Sophomore slump? The Cowboys appeared to hit the quarterback lottery, drafting Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott in the third round. Prescott wasn’t supposed to start as a rookie, but a broken bone in Tony Romo’s back opened the door before the season. Prescott ran with the opportunity, leading the Cowboys to 11 straight wins and an 11-1 record in early December. Most impressive was his poise and efficiency, throwing 23 touchdowns against just four interceptions. Now comes the hard part: repeating his success after the secret is out.

» Zeke’s world: Speaking of sophomores, all eyes will be on Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to see what he can provide as an encore in his second season. The NFL’s offensive rookie of the year burst onto the scene with 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns, despite playing only 15 games because the Cowboys chose to rest him in their finale. Elliott’s best stretch of his rookie season came early, with four games of 140, 138, 134 and 157 yards spanning the end of September into October. His season-high 157 came against the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers fared a little better in the playoffs, “limiting” him to 125 yards on 22 carries in January.

» Garrett’s longevity: Until the late 1980s, the Cowboys were a picture of stability on the sidelines. They had the same head coach all those years, with Tom Landry filling the post for 29 seasons. Then the job became a hot potato. Jimmie Johnson for five years. Barry Switzer for four. Bill Parcels for four. Since Landry retired, the Cowboys have had seven head coaches. Jason Garrett, entering his eighth season, is the longest tenured of the group and the only to last more than five years.

Packers schedule glimpse

Oct. 8 at Cowboys, 3:25 p.m., Fox

Week before: vs. Bears, Sept. 28

Week after: at Vikings, Oct. 15

On the horizon: vs. Saints, Oct. 22

Dallas Cowboys

Coach: Jason Garrett (58-46, 8th season).

2016 record: 13-3, first NFC East.

Scoring offense: 26.3 points per game (5th in NFL).

Total offense: 376.7 yards per game (5th).

Scoringdefense: 19.1 points allowed per game (5th).

Total defense: 343.9 yards allowed per game (14th).

Series: Packers lead 18-17.

Last meeting: Mason Crosby made not one, but two field goals longer than 50 yards inside the final two minutes, including a 51-yarder as time expired to send the Packers to the NFC championship game with a 34-31 win Jan. 15 in Dallas. It was the conclusion of a game with the intensity to match its stakes. The Packers jumped out to a 21-3 lead behind nearly flawless play by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and led 28-13 entering the fourth quarter. The Cowboys scored a pair of touchdowns and a two-point conversion, pulling even at 28 with four minutes left. Then the game devolved into a soccer-style shootout, with Crosby’s two late kicks sandwiching Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey’s own nerves-of-steel, 52-year field goal with 35 seconds left. After the dust settled, the Packers were headed to the NFC championship game for the second time in three seasons, both trips following NFC divisional-round wins against the Cowboys.

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