Upset: Green Bay Packers Beat Cowboys 17-7

If you read my preview, you'll know I didn't expect them to win. Box score from ESPN. So how did they pull it out?

  • Protect the QB. 4 sacks and 4 QB hits on 40+ pass attempts isn't a Pro Bowl performance for the offensive line. LB DeMarcus Ware had a big game with 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, and forced at least a couple holding penalties. But as far as this season has gone, this actually marks an improvement. But it's not the reason they won.
  • Stop the penalties. The Packers committed 12 penalties costing them 100 yards. Nope, that didn't win them the game.
  • Coverage on special teams. The kick coverage was good, holding Dallas to only 60 yards on 3 returns, with nothing over 25 yards. But the kickoffs weren't that deep either which left the Cowboys with good field position. They did hold PR Patrick Crayton to only 8.2 yards/return, with a long of 18 yards. Not great, but at least they didn't start any drives in Packer territory. Better, but it wasn't the reason they won.
  • The defensive shutout (almost). The Packers have allowed 38 points in each of their previous two games, which masked the fact the defense had been playing well. The pass rush hadn't been getting to the QB, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers opened up the playbook and the blitz got to QB Tony Romo this week. There's been a lot of talk about QB Aaron Rodgers holding the ball too long, but Romo was guilty of it this week. And the pressure forced the turnovers that had been absent the past 2 weeks. The final 2 Dallas drives created 139 yards of offense and will slightly mask how dominant the Packers defense was. On 8 separate drives, the Cowboys were held to under 20 yards of offense. The Packers D allowed another TD pass in the red zone, it was the 6th one they've allowed in the last 3 games, but it was offset by a big INT by CB Charles Woodson that ended one red zone drive. Another Dallas red zone drive ended with a missed FG. Definitely the reason they won. 

The past two weeks have been ugly, but a big win like this turns it all around. We can't expect the defense, no matter how well it's been playing, to lockdown their opponents like this every week. But after 2 disappointing losses in the previous 2 weeks, and 2 tough losses to the Cowboys in the previous 2 seasons, it's a big win. Hopefully that momentum carries them forward through the 2nd half of the season.

As far as MVP goes, LB Nick Barnett had a huge game with 2 sacks and 2 QB hits. But CB Charles Woodson forced 2 fumbles, both recovered by the Packers, had 1 sack, and his INT stopped a sure Cowboy scoring drive. 

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