Packers can expect another classic clash with longtime rival in Dallas
Fifth in a 13-part series on the opponents the Green Bay Packers will face during the 2019 regular season.
GREEN BAY – Hello again, old friend.
After a brief hiatus in 2018, the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys are back to doing what they usually do this fall. For a pair of opponents who don’t share a division, it’s remarkable how often the two teams find each other on the schedule.
When the Packers travel to Dallas for a Week 5 matchup Oct. 6, it’ll be their sixth time playing each other in the past five seasons, and their eighth time this decade. For comparison, the Packers and Cowboys, two of the NFL’s most storied teams, only played each other four times in the previous decade. It will be the Packers’ third straight trip to Dallas, following three straight trips to Lambeau Field for the Cowboys.
Other than the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, NFC North opponents the Packers play twice annually, the only other teams the Packers have played as often as the Cowboys since the start of the 2014 season are the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons.
The Packers have played the Seahawks each of the past five seasons, including twice in 2014, the year of their unforgettable NFC Championship game bout. The Falcons have also played the Packers five times, including twice in 2016, the year of their NFC Championship game rout. Neither team plays the Packers in 2019.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, saw their stretch of four straight seasons playing the Packers end last year. Unlike the Seahawks and Falcons, however, the Cowboys have played the Packers twice in the postseason since 2014.
It’s a renewal of a rivalry that helped define the 1990s. The Packers and Cowboys played each other 10 times that decade, including three straight matchups in the playoffs. The Cowboys won each of those three postseason showdowns, part of eight straight wins from 1991 to 1996.
Which is where this decade’s version of the rivalry has been very different.
Aaron Rodgers has done to the Cowboys what Brett Favre couldn’t, dominating them both at home and away. The Packers are 6-2 against the Cowboys in games Rodgers started, including wins in the 2014 NFC divisional round at Lambeau Field and the 2016 NFC divisional round at Dallas. In the latter, the Packers were underdogs on the road against the NFC’s top playoff seed, but Rodgers engineered one of the more memorable plays of his career, a 36-yard, sideline-toe-tapping completion to tight end Jared Cook that set up a game-winning field goal with three seconds left. In all, the Packers have won seven of their last eight games against the Cowboys, including a 37-36 thriller in 2013 started by backup quarterback Matt Flynn. For comparison, the Packers beat the Cowboys just twice in 11 games with Favre at quarterback. Of course, there’s a pretty significant catch …
Not your father’s trio
The Cowboys have generally had a franchise quarterback, top receiver and workhorse running back throughout the Rodgers era. Still, it’s a huge stretch to compare Tony Romo/Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant/Amari Cooper and Marion Barber/Felix Jones/DeMarcus Murray/Ezekiel Elliott to Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. The former have helped keep the Cowboys mostly relevant over the past dozen seasons, with six winning records and a top overall playoff seed since 2008, but have never won a playoff game. The latter trio led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories in four years. With Prescott, Cooper and Elliott (along with former Packers receiver Randall Cobb), the Cowboys will again have the makings for a highly productive offense. They hope it’s enough for their first NFC Championship game appearance since 1995.
Remember the overzealous Jerry Jones? The owner who riffled through quarterbacks like they were misfit options on the clearance rack? Maybe it’s a stretch to describe the Cowboys owner as patient, but Jones has shown a somewhat surprising restraint this decade. After burning through six head coaches from 1989 to 2010, never keeping one for more than five seasons, the Cowboys are entering their 10th season with Jason Garrett at the helm. Garrett, the franchise’s second-longest-tenured coach behind Tom Landry, was named the Cowboys' interim head coach after Wade Phillips was fired midway through the 2010 season. He dropped the “interim” title after the season, a byproduct of the Cowboys finishing 5-3 down the stretch that year. Garrett has kept the Cowboys competitive during most of his tenure. His .566 winning percentage is actually lower than the Cowboys’ .607 win percentage under Phillips, but the Cowboys have won a pair of wild-card games under Garrett. There are other similarities between the two, including each coach leading the Cowboys to the conference’s top playoff seed only to lose in the divisional round. But the biggest difference, after so many years of knee-jerk reactions, has been Jones’ commitment to keeping Garrett in charge.
Packers schedule glimpse
Oct. 6 at Dallas, 3:25 p.m., FOX
Week before: vs. Eagles, Sept. 26
Week after: vs. Lions, Oct. 14
On the horizon: vs. Raiders, Oct. 20
Coach: Jason Garrett (77-59, 10th season with Cowboys).
2018 record: 10-6, first in NFC East.
Scoring offense: 21.2 points per game (22nd in NFL).
Total offense: 343.8 yards per game (22nd in NFL).
Scoring defense: 20.3 points allowed per game (6th in NFL).
Total defense: 329.3 yards allowed per game (7th in NFL).
Series: Packers trail, 17-16.
Last meeting: There was Dez Bryant’s catch-rule game, and Jared Cook’s sideline tap dance. Though their last meeting doesn’t compare, mostly because it didn’t come in the playoffs, the Packers handed the Cowboys another crushing, late-game defeat Oct. 8, 2017. After falling behind 31-28 on Dak Prescott’s 11-yard touchdown run, the Packers were left with 73 seconds. Jerry Jones would later say he knew his team scored too quickly, that Aaron Rodgers had too much time. He was right. Rodgers engineered a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Davante Adams with just 11 seconds left. Rodgers was 3-for-6 on the drive with 40 passing yards, including the touchdown, and added an 18-yard scramble to convert a first down on third-and-8. The Cowboys gave Rodgers 73 seconds. He needed just 62. The Packers won 35-31 and appeared to be the team to beat in the NFC. A week later, Rodgers broke his right collarbone in Minnesota, and the Packers missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years.