4:25 PM ET, December 15, 2013
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
More Packers-Cowboys coverage
The Packers never stopped believing they could come back, but they didn't expect it to play out like it did, Rob Demovsky writes. Story
Two crucial fourth-quarter interceptions will be what we'll remember most about Tony Romo's performance Sunday. But he had other chances to put the game out of reach, writes Todd Archer. Blog
If Jason Garrett, who failed to take control of game management late in a crushing loss, is ultimately fired, he has nobody to blame but himself, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor Story
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Flynn threw four touchdown passes in the second half, Eddie Lacy had the winning score on a 1-yard plunge after an interception by Tony Romo gave them one more chance, and the Green Bay Packers matched the biggest comeback in franchise history in a 37-36 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Romo tossed two interceptions in the final 3 minutes, the first one giving Green Bay a chance for the go-ahead score with the Cowboys in position to run out the clock with a 36-31 lead.
Lacy scored with 1:31 to go for Green Bay's first lead since the first quarter and after the Packers trailed 26-3 at halftime.
"It took me everything not to cry," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, whose team won its second straight without Rodgers after going winless in the first five, including the Chicago game when the star QB got hurt. "I'm just drained. Just the sheer emotion. It was incredible."
"Most guys would pack it in -- 'Guys, it's not our season. Let's go home and get ready for next year,' " said Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams, who had an interception overturned on review before a game-clinching pick that was ruled incomplete and reversed on replay. "It's not that vibe here."
Playing on the same field where Rodgers was the MVP when they won the 2011 Super Bowl, the Packers matched the 1982 team in a September game against the Los Angeles Rams for the largest rally.
The Packers (7-6-1) kept their playoff hopes alive with Rodgers possibly returning next weekend. He was close to medical clearance, but missed his sixth straight game with a broken collarbone. He was wearing a headset on Green Bay's sideline. There will be no quarterback controversy.
"Yeah, it's probably the biggest win of my career,'' said Flynn, who has won two straight starts after the Packers were winless for five straight without Rodgers, including the Chicago game when he broke his left collarbone. The epic rally fueled by Flynn -- and helped along by Romo -- didn't change anything about the quarterback situation with the Packers (7-6-1) still in playoff contention heading into a home game against Pittsburgh.
"I don't anticipate being the guy going forward,'' said Flynn, who was released twice this year before the Packers picked him up after Rodgers got hurt. "We all anticipate Aaron getting healthy."
The vibe in Dallas could be negative for a while, with Dez Bryant walking off the field before the game ended and refusing to talk to reporters in the locker room, simply shaking his head at them after finishing with 153 yards and a touchdown.
After the game, Bryant took to Twitter to explain his early exit.
I walked back to the locker room because I was emotional...it had nothing to do with my teammates we had it... We fought and didn't finish— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 16, 2013
"This is one of the hardest losses that I've experienced," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "That's a shame that we've lost that ballgame."
The Cowboys (7-7) blew a great chance to pull even with Philadelphia in the NFC East but still control their playoff fate. They finish with Washington and the Eagles.
Yeah, He'll Do That
Sunday marked the seventh time Tony Romo has thrown a pick in the fourth quarter or overtime with his team tied or leading by one possession -- nearly twice as many as any other QB since 2006.
"We still control what we feel like we can get done," Romo said. "It just doesn't feel like it right now because we let it slip away."
With Dallas leading 36-31, Bryant made a lunging first down after a catch just before the 2-minute warning that looked as if it would Dallas help hold off a huge Green Bay rally. But Romo threw behind Miles Austin after escaping a sack and Sam Shields intercepted at midfield.
The Packers steadily moved downfield before the plunge by Lacy, who had 141 yards rushing.
Behind for the first time since the first quarter, Romo threw a ball too far in front of Cole Beasley, and Williams made a diving grab that was initially called incomplete. When the video review overturned the call, Flynn ended the game with kneel-downs.
"Right now, words really have no effect," Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr said. "Complete debacle the second half. We've just got to get better, man."
Williams had an earlier interception overturned on review with Dallas clinging to a 29-24 lead. He cradled a deflected pass in his arms and had a weaving return to inside the Dallas 10, but replayed showed the nose of ball hitting the turf.
The Cowboys went on to score when Bryant made a leaping grab over M.D. Jennings and got two feet down in the back of the end zone for a 36-24 lead.
Flynn answered with his fourth straight scoring drive to get the Packers back within five. A Dallas defense that gave up eight straight scoring drives to Chicago in a loss last week let the Packers get touchdowns on five straight drives after halftime.
"What a feelin'!" said Flynn, who threw for 299 yards with one interception. "As we were taking a knee, we were thinking 'Is this real? Is this happening?' "
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Romo threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns, but couldn't avoid two more critical mistakes in a career at least partially defined by them.
DeMarco Murray had 134 yards rushing and a touchdown for Dallas. ... Dan Bailey had five field goals for Dallas. Mason Crosby hit a 57-yarder for the Packers. ... Packers DE Johnny Jolly left the game with a shoulder injury. TE Brandon Bostick came out with a foot injury. ... The Cowboys ended up without their top four linebackers after Justin Durant (hamstring) and Ernie Sims (hip) were knocked out. They were already playing without Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 15: Running back DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by cornerback Tramon...(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||6.4||6.8|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||5-5||2-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||11:00||Dan Bailey 47 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 8 plays, 52 yds, 4:04
|FG||8:21||Mason Crosby 57 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 6 plays, 41 yds, 3:16
|FG||4:56||Dan Bailey 23 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yds, 2:48
|TD||0:35||Jason Witten 25 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 65 yds, 1:57
|FG||5:59||Dan Bailey 43 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 8 plays, 48 yds, 3:26
|FG||3:50||Dan Bailey 50 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 4 plays, -11 yds, 0:53
|TD||0:29||Demarco Murray 1 Yard Run (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 75 yds, 1:35
|TD||13:15||Jordy Nelson 13 Yard Pass From Matt Flynn (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 80 yds, 1:52
|FG||6:39||Dan Bailey 50 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 11 plays, 48 yds, 6:35
|TD||1:13||Andrew Quarless 3 Yard Pass From Matt Flynn (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 5:24
|TD||12:55||James Starks 11 Yard Pass From Matt Flynn (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 22 yds, 2:14
|TD||8:04||Dez Bryant 5 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 4:52
|TD||4:23||James Jones 3 Yard Pass From Matt Flynn (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 3:38
|TD||1:34||Eddie Lacy 1 Yard Run (Matt Flynn Pass to Andrew Quarless For Two-Point Conversion is N)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 50 yds, 1:15
Tony Romo has now thrown the most 4th-quarter interceptions this season when the score is within five points. Romo joined Geno Smith (did it in Week 2 vs NE) as the only quarterbacks to throw multiple 4th-quarter interceptions in the same game when the score is within five points this season.[+]
Tony Romo and the Cowboys chose to pass the ball on 2nd down in the final three minutes against the Packers Sunday. Entering Week 15... Since 2001, teams have rushed the ball 94.7 percent of the time (3,061 rushes on 3,234 snaps) on 1st or 2nd down when leading by 1 to 7 points in the final three minutes of the 4th quarter.
- Unlike the Cowboys, the Packers didn't give up on the run in the second half, and in fact, increased their rush percentage. Lacy gained 110 yards in the second half alone, averaging 8.5 yards per rush (3.9 in the first half).[+]
Rush Percentage Sunday
Tony Romo's interception with 1:24 left in the 4th quarter dropped the Cowboys win probability by 51.1 percentage points, the 2nd-most costly 4th-quarter interception in his career in terms of decrease in win probability. His interception earlier in the quarter dropped the Cowboys win probability by 17.5 percentage points (from 88.6 percent to 71.1 percent). Tony Romo has thrown 7 career 4th-quarter interceptions that have dropped the Cowboys win probability by at least 20 percentage points (The Cowboys have lost all 7 games). Only Matt Schaub has thrown more costly interceptions (8) since the start of 2006.[+]
Tony Romo Career 4th-Quarter Interceptions
Matt Flynn went 12-of-17 against four or fewer pass rushers in the second half Sunday after going 8-of-14 in the first half. The Cowboys didn't sack or put Flynn under duress once in the second half when using such pass rushes. - The Packers went 6-of-7 on third down in the second half Sunday, with the only "failed" conversion being Matt Flynn's final kneel down to end the game. The Packers went 1-of-6 on third down in the first half, with the only conversion being a screen pass on the final play of the half.[+]
Matt Flynn Facing 4 or Fewer Pass Rushers Sunday
The Cowboys' defense contributed -22.8 expected points to the team's net scoring margin in the 2nd half against the Packers. That is the worst defensive EPA by any team in the 2nd half of a game this season. The Packers scored a touchdown on each of their 2nd-half drives, excluding their final drive, which was 3 kneel downs. The Packers got first downs on 47 percent of their 2nd-half plays and converted 6-of-7 third downs during that span.[+]
Cowboys Defense vs Packers
Tony Romo's interception with 1:24 left in the 4th quarter dropped the Cowboys' win probability by 51.1 percentage points, the 2nd-most costly 4th-quarter interception in his career in terms of win probability (the most costly was Darrelle Revis' interception of Romo in 2011; see chart below). His interception earlier in the quarter dropped the Cowboys' win probability by 17.5 percentage points (from 88.6% to 71.1%).[+]
Tony Romo Career 4th-Quarter Interceptions
The Cowboys entered the second half with a 26-3 lead and DeMarco Murray averaging 8.5 yards per rush (11 rushes, 93 yards). Despite the big lead and success on the ground, the Cowboys ran by design on 7-of-30 second half plays (23%). - The league average play call when leading this season is 53% pass, 47% rush. The Cowboys entered Sunday with the second-lowest rush percentage when ahead (37%). - Entering Week 15, teams have rushed the ball 94.7 percent of the time (3,061 rushes on 3,234 snaps) on 1st or 2nd down when leading by 1 to 7 points in the final three minutes of the 4th quarter since 2001. - Murray had all 7 of the Cowboys' rushes in the second half. Eddie Lacy had 13 second-half rushes. - The Cowboys averaged just as many yards on rushes as dropbacks in the first half Sunday. In the second half, the Cowboys averaged 1.9 yards more on rushes.[+]
Cowboys Play Calling Sunday
This is the 7th time Tony Romo has thrown a pick in the 4th quarter or overtime with his team tied or leading by 1 possession. That is nearly twice as many as any other QB since 2006 (when Romo became the starter in Dallas).[+]
This is the first time in franchise history the Cowboys have lost a game in which they led by 20 or more points at the half. Entering Sunday, they had been 42-0.
Tony Romo was 4-of-4 for 89 yards and a TD on passes traveling 15+ yards downfield in the first quarter against the Packers.
ESPN Stats & Information