The date was November 29, 2007, and Brett Favre walked off the Texas Stadium field nursing a right elbow injury.
Trotting on to the field was his backup Aaron Rodgers, a third-year former first-round pick who had only had inconsistent preseason showings leading up to that point in time. While the loss of Favre was concerning for the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers’ growth was promising in being tossed into the fire for the first time of his regular season career at an intimidating road environment that Favre was 0-8 in over the course of his career.
Rodgers threw his first official touchdown pass that day, while completing 69% of his passes for 201 yards in an eventual 37-27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. But the bigger storyline was the emergence of Rodgers, who would be named the team’s starter the following year. That game was the beginning of what would be a remarkable stretch of four games in Dallas for the All-Pro.
Of course, Rodgers’ second appearance would be the most notable, leading the Packers to a Super Bowl XLV win with a 304-yard, three-touchdown performance. Rodgers earned MVP honors at the newly-built AT&T Stadium in Green Bay’s first championship in 15 years with a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers that cemented Green Bay as an NFC contender for years to come.
Unfortunately, Rodgers would not play in the Packers’ next trip to Dallas, sitting out the game with a broken collarbone. But the magic continued as backup Matt Flynn led an unbelievable comeback after the Packers trailed 26-3 at halftime. Rodgers would return to Dallas as a starter in 2017, this time in the playoffs following the 2016 season. In the divisional round, Rodgers would pass for 355 yards and a pair of scoring strikes in the Packers’ 34-31 victory. But the stats were the backstory. After the Cowboys had tied the game at 31-all with just 35 seconds to play, Rodgers led Green Bay on a 43-yard drive that culminated with Mason Crosby’s game-winning 51-yard field goal. It was this improbable 36-yard pass to Jared Cook that stole the headlines.
Later in 2017, during the following regular season, Rodgers put together another three-score passing game in week five. The contest would boil down to a back-and-forth final quarter in which the Packers and Cowboys combined for 30 points. Rodgers had the last laugh, however, completing a 12-yard strike to Davante Adams with just 11 seconds left on the clock. Green Bay held on for a 35-31 win to move to 4-1 in the early season.
The game was memorable not only for the throw and the outcome, but for the fact it would be the peak to the valley witnessed the next week. Rodgers was lost until week 14 with a collarbone injury the very next week against Minnesota in what would be a postseason-less campaign. What was a thrilling beginning to the 2017 season quickly took a tumble after the trip to Dallas.
This weekend, Green Bay travels to Texas once again for a date with the Cowboys. Working in the Packers’ favor are Rodgers’ past performances in AT&T Stadium, as well as a nearly 5:1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions and a 109 passer rating in domed stadiums all-time. And while the Cowboys might be slightly favored at home, there has been something magical about games in Dallas since the very moment Rodgers saw his first significant NFL action.
Could it happen again on Sunday?