I know I’ve had more fun watching a playoff football game over the years. We Packer fans have been blessed to watch some amazing Super Bowls and title games over the past 30-odd years. But this one ranks right near the top.
It’s always extra sweet to dismantle the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, of course, but the Dallas Cowboys are in their own category. From the infamous NFL Championship game known as the Ice Bowl to the audacity to bill themselves America’s Team; from the 90s beatdowns delivered by the Cowboys’ triplets to the tables turning over the past 20 years, when it’s Packers vs. Cowboys, it’s special.
What we witnessed at AT&T Stadium on Sunday afternoon was jaw-dropping. Not just for what it meant in the moment but for what it might portend in the coming years. There are plenty of flowers to hand out: There’s Matt LaFleur’s offensive gameplan, beginning with the decision to take the ball to start the game and deliver the first punch. The flawless offensive line play didn’t allow a sack and made Micah Parsons a rumor. Aaron Jones’ fresh legs, who once again showed he’s a worthy successor to Jerry Jones as owner of the ‘Boys.
But the story of this game was Jordan Love’s performance. In his first career playoff start, on the road as a touchdown underdog against a top-five defense, he delivered a near-perfect passer rating and the highest QBR in NFL playoff history. How many ‘wow’ throws did we watch him make? Over the past two months, his mastery of this offense has been a revelation – an offense featuring a revolving door of young skill position players.
There is no longer any doubt: The Packers have found a third consecutive franchise QB, and his ceiling may be higher than any of us dared to dream was possible. Go back and watch his two TD passes from Sunday. Two very, very special plays. In his last nine games, he’s thrown 21 touchdowns with one pick, and the last three games were basically playoff games. Back up the Brink’s truck and pay the man his money. He’ll go into next season as one of the top three QBs in the NFC. And he’s just scratching the surface.
Now we’ll take a moment to tip our cap to Joe Barry’s defensive game plan. The world is lining up to eviscerate Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott for their no-show effort. Dallas’ offense was averaging 30 points per game at home, and they looked completely lost and disinterested from the start. Some of that credit must go to Barry and the defense, which took away the big plays and waited ‘till the Cowboys shot themselves in the foot.
Jaire Alexander’s interception was a play very few cornerbacks can make, and Darnell Savage’s pick-six essentially ended the game in the second quarter. Sure, they took their foot off the gas midway through the fourth quarter when the score was 41-16. But for 55 minutes, they stood tall when it mattered most. Unfortunately, several guys got injured, which could be a problem against the Niners. But the defense held up their end of the bargain on this day.
Let’s review: the youngest team in the NFL, the youngest team to reach the playoffs in 50 years, just went into the house that Jerry built, a stadium where they are now a perfect 6-0, and put up 48 points and delivered the most embarrassing, soul-crushing playoff defeat in Cowboys history, likely ending the Mike McCarthy era and putting Dak’s Dallas future in doubt.
The Big D stands for delicious.