Aaron Rodgers has more magic, as Packers pull out a dramatic win over Cowboys

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

It looked like the 2017 NFL postseason was headed toward a seventh straight blowout. Instead, the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys gave everyone a classic.

And Aaron Rodgers, king of the Hail Mary, made a throw that will live in NFL playoff lore to get the Packers to the NFC championship game.

Rodgers made an enormous play to get the Packers a field-goal attempt on the final snap of the game. Rodgers moved to his left to keep the play alive, fired a dart and Jared Cook somehow kept both feet in bounds for a 36-yard catch with three seconds left. Then Mason Crosby came on and sent the Packers to the NFC championship game with a 51-yard field goal on the last play of a thrilling 34-31 win. Green Bay plays at the Atlanta Falcons on Jan. 22, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl LI.

The Packers and Cowboys saved what had been a drab playoffs before Sunday. It looked like a runaway early on, when the Packers took a 21-3 lead, and again when Micah Hyde picked off Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in the third quarter with the Packers leading by 15 points.

Then both teams settled in for an all-time great playoff game.

The Cowboys tied it on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 4:08 left. The Packers took a lead on a 56-yard field goal by Crosby with 1:33 remaining. The Cowboys, behind rookie quarterback Prescott, tied it up with 35 seconds left on Dan Bailey’s 52-yard field goal. Then the Packers won it on the final play.

It was a masterful game between two great teams and a great duel between Rodgers, one of the game’s legends already, and Prescott, who showed the Cowboys should have a star at quarterback for many years to come.

In the first half, it looked like the Packers would blow out the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Rodgers couldn’t miss. Dallas looked flustered. In Prescott’s rookie season, he had never faced a deficit of more than 14 points. The Cowboys’ biggest comeback win in playoff history had been from an 18-point hole, and that was 44 years ago. It looked bleak.

But Dallas, behind the unflappable Prescott, kept chipping away.

Aaron Rodgers threw for more than 300 yards in a playoff game at Dallas. (AP)
Aaron Rodgers threw for more than 300 yards in a playoff game at Dallas. (AP)

The Packers couldn’t put the Cowboys away, and Prescott led a game-tying drive in the final few minutes. With 4:08 left, he hit Dez Bryant for a 7-yard touchdown to cut Green Bay’s lead to 28-26. Then, on a risky call on the two-point conversion attempt, Prescott plowed his way into the end zone on a quarterback draw. Tie game. It was the first of many big moments down the stretch.

Prescott was fantastic in the second half, even after his team dug a huge hole. He finished with 302 yards and three touchdowns in his playoff debut. If there was a question that he would be bothered by the big stage of the playoffs, he answered that and then some.

But Rodgers has been doing this a long time. Even after his team blew a big lead, he stayed calm and led two drives in the final two minutes that ended in Crosby’s long field goals. Rodgers had 356 yards, two touchdowns and his first interception since Nov. 13.

Prescott will have many more big moments in his career, which is barely getting started. But Rodgers wasn’t ready for his season to end quite yet.

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!