Packers dominate Cowboys to advance in NFL playoffs and throw Dallas into disarray while Lions defeat Rams in 1st playoff win in 32 years

The Green Bay Packers dominated the Dallas Cowboys during Sunday’s wild-card round to advance in the NFL playoffs and send “America’s Team” into disarray, while later, the Detroit Lions edged past the Los Angeles Rams to win their first playoff game in 32 years.

History was made on Sunday as the Packers became the first No. 7 seed to win an NFL playoff game following their 48-32 wild-card victory over the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The victory was a shocking one – in both its comprehensive nature and the result – and could be the impetus for change in the Cowboys organization, with head coach Mike McCarthy’s future in doubt now.

And later in the day, the Lions defeated the Los Angeles Rams 24-23 at Ford Field in Detroit, giving the franchise and its fans their first taste of playoff success since 1991.

The Packers will face the No. 1 seeded 49ers (12-5) in the NFL divisional round next week in San Francisco. Detroit will host the winner of Monday’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles Wild Card round game in the Divisional round next week.

Here are some of the highlights from Sunday’s games.

Packers become 1st No. 7 seed to win NFL playoff game

Although they were traveling to a stadium where Dallas hadn’t lost in 16 games, the Packers dominated from start to finish on Sunday.

Green Bay was in the driving seat from the opening kickoff behind masterful performances by quarterback Jordan Love and running back Aaron Jones.

Love completed 16-of-21 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns – one apiece to Romeo Doubs, Luke Musgrave and Dontayvion Wicks – while Jones ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

The 25-year-old Love – leading the NFL’s youngest roster – never looked overwhelmed in his first postseason game, routinely dissecting the league’s fifth-ranked defense. The 48 points the Packers scored was the most allowed by the Cowboys in their postseason history.

He finished with a blistering quarterback rating of 157.2 – the highest by a QB in a road playoff game during the Super Bowl era, per NFL Research.

“Jordan Love. Wow,” head coach Matt LaFleur said in his postgame news conference. “That’s about all I can say. What he did and the poise he shows. The command he shows. … I’m just so proud and happy for him.”

And while Love and the offense scored seemingly on every drive, the Packers defense shut down Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense.

Prescott threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown by safety Darnell Savage, before Dallas even got on the scoreboard as he looked out of sorts with his usually explosive receivers.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Packers (9-8 in the regular season) held a 48-16 lead and pulled most of their starters. However, the Cowboys (12-5) edged back into contention, making it a 16-point game late following two touchdown passes by Prescott and two two-point conversions. He would finish 41 of 60 with 403 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Down 48-32 late in the fourth quarter and driving down the field, the Cowboys offense was stopped on fourth down to give the Packers their first playoff win since 2021.

Love, who became the starting quarterback when Aaron Rodgers was traded during the offseason to the New York Jets, told the FOX broadcast after the game that they were “real loose” when the contest started.

“We came in here with the mindset that we were going to dominate,” Love said. “A lot of people counted us out and we didn’t care about that. We knew what opportunity we had in front of us and made the most of it tonight.”

All eyes now turn to the Cowboys and what the future might hold in northern Texas. Multiple members of the franchise, including owner Jerry Jones, faced questions from the media following the loss about whether they think McCarthy would be back next season.

Jones – who said he was “floored” by the defeat – refused to be drawn into talking about McCarthy’s future, whereas Prescott stood behind his head coach, stressing the impact he’s had on his game.

“He’s been amazing,” said Prescott of McCarthy. “I don’t know how there can be [speculation about his future], but I understand the business. In that case, it should be about me as well. I’ve had the season that I’ve had because of him. This team has had the success that they’ve had because of him.

“I understand it’s about winning the Super Bowl. That’s the standard of this league and damn sure the standard of this place. I get it, but add me to the list in that case.”

Lions win 1st playoff in 32 years

Sunday’s game between the Lions and Rams had extra meaning for both quarterbacks, Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford. Both were traded for each other in 2021. Stafford went on to lead the Rams to a Super Bowl LVI victory and now Goff has led Detroit to a victory of their own.

Detroit got off to a quick start, jumping out to a 14-3 lead after the first quarter. But Stafford and the Rams offense came back to make it 21-17 heading into halftime.

Rams kicker Brett Maher played the hero in the second half to help cut the lead to 24-23 in the fourth quarter.

Late in the fourth quarter, with the Rams driving down the field, the Lions defense got a stop to force Los Angeles to punt. Detroit would go on to run the clock down to secure the victory.

Goff finished the game with 277 yards passing and one touchdown.

After the game, Goff said the win meant a lot for the team and the city of Detroit.

“Just look around,” Goff told the NBC broadcast. “It’s still packed out and they’re still cheering for us. It means a whole lot to this city. We knew what it meant when this season started, to get into the playoffs and to get this win. It’s just the beginning for us. We got some road left.”

Stafford, who started his NFL career with the Lions after being taken first overall by the franchise in the 2009 NFL Draft, threw for 367 yards and two touchdowns.

Last week, Stafford was asked by reporters what the city of Detroit meant to him and his family.

“I had a lot of experiences there over 12 years,” Stafford said. “All my daughters were born there. My wife and I went through things there that the team and the city, the group, the town, everybody supported. So I have nothing but great memories there.

“Obviously didn’t get it done on the field as much as I wish we could have. But the people that I was lucky enough to know and grow with are people that I’m still close with today and mean a lot to me.”

Stafford was helped by rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, who finished the game with 181 yards and a touchdown. The 22-year-old Nacua set a rookie record for receiving yards in a playoff game.

The NFL playoffs were expanded to include eight teams in each conference beginning with the postseason after the 2020 season.

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