Packers dominate Cowboys in Dallas 48-32

In a game they dominated from start to finish, the Green Bay Packers sent the Dallas Cowboys home for the season with a 48-32 road victory, advancing to the divisional round in the process. The Packers, the No. 7 seed in the NFC, will head to San Francisco to take on the top-seeded 49ers next week.

Green Bay won the coin toss and took the ball rather than deferring to the second half, and immediately set the tone with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 7:52 off the clock and ended with Aaron Jones (21 carries for 118 yards) scoring the first of his three touchdowns on the evening. Jordan Love was surgical both on that drive and throughout the game, completing passes both from a clean pocket and when under pressure, expertly navigating any and every challenge Dan Quinn's defense threw at him -- not that there were all that many such challenges. 

The Cowboys, on the other hand, were off their game from the jump. They took a penalty on the second play of the game, left a receiver wide open down the field on the third, saw their first drive end on a CeeDee Lamb drop, gifted the Packers field position with a kick-catch interference, repeatedly ran the ball into the line with little success, and could not get their receivers open. 

Dak Prescott played as poorly as he has in his entire career, forcing throws into windows that were not just not open, but actively closed. He was picked off twice (once for a touchdown) and should have had at least one more of his throws caught by Green Bay. He took several inopportune sacks, missed multiple open receivers, and just generally did not manage the game well on any level.

This all made for Dallas' third consecutive utterly embarrassing postseason loss, the second of them in AT&T Stadium. The Packers, meanwhile, are wildly ahead of schedule in the post-Aaron Rodgers era. Love's first season as the started went about as well as could be expected, and he is playing at as high a level as any quarterback in football at the moment. The marriage of him and Matt LaFleur appears perfect, and regardless of what happens against San Francisco, Green Bay should contend for years to come. 

Here are a few more things to know about this game.

Why the Packers won

Jordan Love was the best player on the field, Matt LaFleur took Dan Quinn to school, and the defense played arguably its best game of the season until the Cowboys got some stuff going in garbage time. Love went 16 of 21 for 272 yards and three touchdowns, repeatedly dicing the Cowboys both underneath and down the field. His young pass-catchers were running in wide-open space all game long, thanks to LaFleur repeatedly scheming up massive throwing lanes. The much-maligned Packers defense boxed Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle in all afternoon, and came away with two massive interceptions on Prescott -- including a pick-six by Darnell Savage. The Packers didn't need to do all that much considering the Cowboys apparently weren't in the mood to compete, but they came out and played really well anyway.

Why the Cowboys lost

They showed up to the stadium and apparently thought that was all they needed to do to advance. They were wrong. 

What's next

The Packers head to the divisional round, where they will face the San Francisco 49ers -- the NFC's No. 1 seed -- with a trip to the conference championship game on the line. The 2021 Packers lost to the Niners in the divisional round, although that game was played at Lambeau Field and featured Aaron Rodgers under center for Green Bay and Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm for San Francisco. The Niners were arguably the best team in football for much of the season, but will now have to contend with a Packers squad playing as well as any team in the league at the moment.

The Cowboys are once again going home after being eliminated from the playoffs in embarrassing fashion. It would frankly be surprising if Mike McCarthy were still the coach of this team on Tuesday, let alone next season. Jerry Jones loves nothing more than chasing big names to solve all his problems, so he will likely conduct a sham interview to satisfy the Rooney Rule and then throw all the money in the world at Bill Belichick. (Notably, this is also how he handled the last coaching search, designed all along to land on McCarthy. That worked out really well, so it makes sense to run back the same strategy.) They will rope some believers in again next year, and things will likely end the exact same way. 

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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