Packers beat Cowboys 17-7 to snap win streak
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Charles Woodson helped Green Bay’s defense finally play up to its potential against a big-time opponent, forcing two fumbles and picking off a pass by Tony Romo on the goal line in a 17-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
It wasn’t a pretty win for the Packers (5-4), but it might have saved their season after back-to-back demoralizing losses.
The Packers sacked Romo five times and held him to 251 yards passing in a momentum- killer for the Cowboys (6-3), who had won four straight. Dallas also lost starting right tackle Marc Colombo to a broken left leg.
Aaron Rodgers scored on a quarterback sneak and threw a touchdown pass to tight end Spencer Havner.
Rodgers was 25 of 36 for 189 yards and a touchdown in another rough day at the office, taking four sacks and spending much of the day under pressure. But he took matters into his own hands to lead the Packers on a 15-play, 80-yard drive capped by Rodgers’ 1-yard touchdown on a sneak for a 10-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
With the Cowboys pinned deep in their own territory on their next possession, Woodson burst through the line unblocked to sack Romo and strip the ball, allowing rookie outside linebacker Clay Matthews III to recover the ball at the 3.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips tried to challenge the play, saying a Dallas player had recovered the fumble, but officials ruled that the play was not reviewable.
Facing third-and-goal, Rodgers threw to Havner for a touchdown — the fourth score of the season for Havner, a former linebacker who switched positions in training camp.
Romo then drove the Cowboys to the Packers 4, where Roy Williams drew a pass interference penalty on cornerback Tramon Williams in the end zone. But Woodson answered again, picking off Romo’s pass on the next play to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone.
The Packers generated plenty of pressure despite playing without outside linebacker Aaron Kampman, who is recovering from a concussion. The outstanding defensive outing masked a lackluster day for the Packers offense, which again struggled with penalties and pressure on Rodgers.
With the Packers nursing a 3-0 lead late in the third quarter, Rodgers finally got the offense going, converting a pair of third-and-longs on a drive deep into Dallas territory. Rodgers began getting the best of a weakened Dallas secondary that had lost cornerback Mike Jenkins to a left arm injury and safety Ken Hamlin to an ankle injury.
Facing a first down at the Dallas 16 after an illegal hands to the face penalty on Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick, Rodgers narrowly overthrew James Jones in the end zone. But Donald Driver drew an interference penalty on Scandrick, and Rodgers converted a third-down throw to Jordy Nelson two plays later.
Nelson was ruled down just short of the end zone, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy challenged the play. The ruling was upheld to set up first-and-goal at the 1. Rodgers delivered to Havner, putting Green Bay up 17-0.
Green Bay’s defense was solid, turning up the pressure on Romo early on. Even when they did allow a big play, Woodson was there, stripping the ball from Williams after a long completion in the first half.
Romo was 24 of 39 for 251 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Williams had 105 yards receiving and a touchdown.
The Packers switched to a 3-4 alignment under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers in the offseason. So far, the new-look defense has been dominant against weaker opponents but melted down when faced with tougher opponents.