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Wild Card Weekend: Packers Winners and Losers vs. the Cowboys

With a stunning rout of the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers have officially won their first playoff game since the 2020 season.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Wm. Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports

The first season of the Jordan Love era officially includes the first playoff win of the QB’s career as a starter. In a shocker of a game, the Green Bay Packers blew the Dallas Cowboys out of the water with a 48-32 win, and their unbeaten streak at AT&T Stadium continues. The score makes the game seem a lot closer than it was, but despite DC Joe Barry’s best efforts in the game’s final minutes, the Packers simply dominated. Let’s dive into the winners and losers of one of the more exciting Packers playoff games in recent memory, as the team put up their first 40+ point game of the season.

Winner: Aaron Jones

Texas-native Aaron Jones is to the Dallas Cowboys what Randall Cobb was to the Chicago Bears. In his three previous career games against the Cowboys, Jones had 370 rushing yards, 102 receiving yards, and 6 TDs. Today, Jones racked up 118 rushing yards, 13 receiving yards, and 3 TDs. An absolute career day for the running back, who had 285 total rushing yards in five playoff games before today. One of Jones’ strengths has always been finding those holes, and weaseling his way through them. Today was no different. The ground game got off to a slow start against the Cowboys, but after a few plays, things clicked, and Jones never looked back.

Loser: Those Silly Little Penalties

There were a few interesting calls during the game which I didn’t really agree with, including a horse collar call on Quay Walker, but that’s not what my big issue was today. There were some legitimate flags thrown for some mistakes which simply should not have occurred. Kenny Clark was flagged for a facemask, which happened after he had already made his tackle. Preston Smith jumped offsides, badly, and was rightfully flagged for it. These little mistakes gave the Cowboys free yardage, and during a playoff game, that can end your season if you’re not careful.

Winner: Romeo Doubs

With the recent emergence of Jayden Reed as Jordan Love’s new favorite target, and with the return of Christian Watson, I wasn’t sure Romeo Doubs was going to dominate in any way today. I expected a quiet performance, maybe a few catches! Shame on me. Doubs finished the day catching all six of his targets for 151 yards (his career-high) and a touchdown. The Packers’ single-game playoff receiving record is 160 yards, a number reached by Davante Adams when the Packers faced the Seahawks in the 2019 Divisional Round. Doubs came so close to making Packers history, and he was wide open for most of it. Incredible stuff today from the second-year player.

Winner: The Packers’ Secondary

Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb finished the 2023 regular season with the second-most receiving yards and receiving TDs, with 1,749 and 12, respectively. The last time the Packers faced the Cowboys, they allowed Lamb to have the best game of his career at the time. It’s safe to say he strikes fear into the hearts of opposing fans. Today, he was nonexistent until the second half. This is in part due to some weird decision-making from QB Dak Prescott, but also because the Packers’ secondary came to play today. CB Keisean Nixon tied with LB Quay Walker to lead all players with 11 total tackles each. Nixon also had a monster sack, and was credited with two pass breakups. S Darnell Savage had a huge pick-six for 64 yards, his first interception since Week 16 of the 2022 season (which was also returned for a touchdown).

CB Jaire Alexander also had a wonderful game, amassing seven tackles and an interception which looked like it was returned for a touchdown, until further review showed Alexander was down after making the pick. He later went down in the second half after a non-contact injury to what looked like the ankle he’s been nursing this week, and did not return to the game. If Alexander isn’t able to suit up next week, it could be a devastating loss to the defense.

Winner: Jordan Love

He’s done it again, and he somehow continues to look better and better each time. Up until there were about five or six minutes left in the game, Jordan Love had a perfect passer rating. He finished the day with just five incompletions and, just as we’ve seen in recent games, several of them were drops. Love looked absolutely stunning en route to his first career playoff win as a starter, and the rest of the league is officially on notice. The Packers QB looked calm. He looked in control, even when scrambling. He has transformed into a leader you simply trust to get the job done, in what seems like record time. The contrast from what we saw to begin the season is truly startling.

Without Aaron Jones for much of the regular season, the offense was largely one-dimensional. With a complete running game, Jordan Love looks even better, and this Packers offense has transformed into one of the most efficient units in the league. Green Bay put up 48 points with ease today, a number they have not reached in a game since November 16, 2014, when they scored 53 against the Philadelphia Eagles. As Bears WR DJ Moore and Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown said this week, the Packers offense “is different”, and “they’re dangerous”. Jordan Love is the reason. He finished the day 16 of 21 for 272 yards, 3 TDs, and no sacks or interceptions.

Next week the Packers face their toughest test of the season yet, meeting their old foes, the San Francisco 49ers, in the Divisional Round. We’ve seen the Packers struggle to beat the 49ers with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. Will Jordan Love have what it takes to break the wretched playoff curse?