Aaron Rodgers has done it again.
In a game that featured five lead changes in the fourth quarter, it was the final one with 11 seconds left that sent the Green Bay Packers to a 4-1 record with a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon.
Rodgers led a 75-yard drive in 63 seconds, scrambling for a huge first down before finding Davante Adams for the go-ahead score — the receiver’s second touchdown of the day. The comeback capped off a thrilling second half, as Green Bay fought back from a 21-6 deficit over the course of the game.
Early on, the referees were a major factor. The Cowboys drove down into the red zone on their opening drive, but the Packers appeared to get a stop when a pass from Dak Prescott to Dez Bryant fell incomplete in the middle of the end zone. However, Blake Martinez was flagged for a hit on a defenseless receiver, a call that was questionable at best as he made incidental contact with Bryant. The Cowboys scored a touchdown immediately afterwards, taking a 7-0 lead.
The Packers responded quickly, however, with Aaron Jones at running back. Aaron Rodgers found Davante Adams for a touchdown pass to claw back, but Mason Crosby’s extra point attempt pinged off the right upright to keep the score 7-6.
After that, Dallas’ offense gashed the Packers’ defense on two straight drives, with touchdown sandwiched around a Packers’ three and out to extend their lead to 21-6. However, the Packers drove down late in the first half for a big touchdown by Aaron Jones, but Crosby’s second missed PAT of the day left them with a 21-12 deficit at halftime.
However, the Packers’ running game began to wake up in the second half. After a big leaping catch by Martellus Bennett set the Packers up in Dallas territory, Jones helped get the Packers into field goal range, as Crosby’s short kick made the score 21-15. Then after the defense forced a punt, Jones kick-started the offense with a 22-yard run as the Packers drove down into Cowboys territory once again. Jones ran the ball 5 times for 47 yards before Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for a 10-yard touchdown and a 22-21 lead.
Dallas took the lead back with a Dan Bailey field goal, but after an unsuccessful offensive series and a booming punt by Justin Vogel, an embattled Packer defensive back got some redemption.
Damarious Randall was in a perfect spot, as Terrance Williams dropped a pass from Prescott, right into Randall’s hands. Randall scampered 21 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, giving the Packers a 28-24 lead after a failed two-point conversion. It was the Packers’ first return touchdown since 2015, including both special teams and defensive plays.
However, with a tired defense, the Packers started giving up big chunks of yardage to the Cowboys’ running game. Ezekiel Elliott crossed over the 100-yard mark on the day as Dallas ran down a big portion of the fourth-quarter clock, taking it down from about 10 minutes left to inside the two-minute warning. A pair of overturned spots on back-to-back plays gave the Cowboys a first down at the 19-yard line at the two-minute mark.
The biggest play was a final fourth-and-one from the 20, on which Ezekiel Elliott appeared to be stopped short, but upon review it was ruled that he extended the ball over the line to gain. However, he pulled the ball back of his own volition, and since it was not a play at the goal line, there is an argument to be made that he should not have been given the yardage.
In any case, Dak Prescott scored a touchdown on a read-option two plays later, giving the Cowboys a three-point lead at 31-28 with 1:13 to go and the Packers having one timeout.
Aaron Rodgers set out to work, hitting Davante Adams along the sideline for 14 before finding Martellus Bennett for a catch-and-run of 14 yards of his own. After an incomplete pass, Aaron Jones sprinted on a draw for 15, getting into field goal range. Another incompletion and a two-yard run by Jones set up a third and eight from the 30. Rodgers broke out of the pocket, scrambling for a huge 18-yard gain down to the 12. Two plays later, Rodgers found Adams on a fade to the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Following a dramatic lateral play, the Packers sealed up the win and moved to 4-1 on the young season.