Two Dynasties Collide: A Walk Through Packers-Cowboys History
This Sunday the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers will be meeting at Lambeau Field for their 34th meeting in this rivalry. The Packers own a one game edge 17-16 after they defeated the Cowboys five straight times since November 15th 2009. The average margin of victory in this stretch is 15 points. Which included the 45-7 debacle that cost Wade Phillips his job and last year’s 28-7 victory for the Packers.
IN THE BEGINNING
The series got off to a rough start for the Cowboys losing their first six games spanning from 1960-1968 which included two NFL Championship games. Yes, the “Ice Bowl” was during that stretch. The two head coaches at the time were Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. The two coaches that served as offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator respectively while with the New York Giants under head coach Jim Lee Howell. The trio won a NFL Championship together in 1956.
The Cowboys first victory came in 1970. The quarterbacks were Bart Starr and Craig Morton. The Cowboys would finish with 16 straight points after falling behind 3-0 early on. The lone touchdown came from “Bullet” Bob Hayes on a 13-yard rush. Mike Clark added three field goals, none of which were further out than 21 yards. The Cowboys would lose the next two match-ups before getting back into the win column against the Pack.
The teams would meet in 1975 at Texas Stadium in Irving, TX for the first time. The Cowboys came in at 4-0 while the Packers were yet to win a game at 0-4. Once again the Packers would open up a 3-0 lead. Dallas would take the lead with a Robert Newhouse score to get ahead 7-3 in the 3rd quarter. Once Green Bay scored again to retake the lead, the Cowboys would answer. This time on a three-yard rush from Doug Dennison. The team would add on a 24-yard field goal from Toni Fritsch to extend their lead to 17-9. The Packers would score 10 straight to capture the victory 19-17.
The next two contests would take place at Milwaukee County Stadium in which the Cowboys would win handily by a margin of victory of 24.5 points. From 1978-1984 the Cowboys were able to win each time they faced the Packers. The Cowboys wouldn’t play again until the Cowboys made their return to Lambeau field in 1989. The two teams hadn’t played there since the 1967 Ice Bowl. A stretch of 22 years but the result was the same, a Packers victory.
The starting quarterback was Steve Walsh who connected with Hall of Famer Michael Irvin in the first quarter to take 6-0 lead. The only other score was a 40-yard fumble recovery by Eugene Lockhart. Other notable names playing in this game were Herschel Walker, Darryl Johnston and Sterling Sharpe.
THE 90's: A RIVALRY IS FORMED
Starting in the second game against the Packers in 1989 was eventual Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman. The performance on Christmas Eve wasn’t a memorable one for Aikman. He was sacked twice and threw four interceptions during that game. The Cowboys lost 20-10 and their lone touchdown came off of a Jack Del Rio 57-yard fumble return.
The Cowboys would make the longest run in this rivalry starting in 1991 when they would rattle off eight straight victories with seven of those coming at Texas Stadium in Irving. The lone away game was played at Milwaukee County Stadium. It was only 44 degrees at the time of the game which featured a heavy dose of Emmitt Smith who rushed 32 times for 122 yards. The big offensive weapon was Jay Novacek who caught 11 passes for 126 yards and the lone offensive touchdown. The Cowboys won 20-17 in which Ray Horton picked off a Blair Kiel pass for a 65-yard touchdown followed by Novacek’s touchdown reception to take a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. The team would add two field goals in the third and fourth quarters to go up 20-10 and hold on for the win.
In the Cowboys seven games during the streak at Texas Stadium, they won by double digits in every game. The largest margin of victory being a 26-point win in the 1994 NFC Divisional round. During this game, Troy Aikman would throw a 94-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Harper. Blair Thomas would add two scores, Emmitt one, and Scott Galbraith another.
The other memorable game during this stretch has to be the Turkey Day game in 1994. The now head coach Jason Garrett quarterbacked this game. Garrett was thrust into the starting role after both Aikman and Rodney Peete were injured. The Cowboys would be trailing 17-6 heading into the 2nd half. Emmitt Smith would start the comeback for this game with a five-yard score in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 17-13.
Sterling Sharpe would catch a 30-yard touchdown from Brett Favre to extend their lead to 11 points before the Cowboys would rattle off four straight touchdowns. Alvin Harper and Michael Irvin would bookend two rushing scores by Darryl “Moose” Johnston and Emmitt. Sharpe would add another touchdown but the Cowboys would be too much for a 42-31 victory. This was one of two victories for Garrett as a player against the Packers. As a head coach, he has a 0-3 record against the team.
The last victory in the stretch of eight straight wins against the Pack came in 1996. The Cowboys didn’t score a single touchdown in this game but still won handily. The Cowboys were really stifled offensively in this game. Aikman threw for 206 yards, Emmitt added 76 on the ground but 25 of those yards came on one carry alone. Irvin was only able to add 66 yards receiving on five catches. 31 yards came on one reception alone.
The real story in this game was kicker Chris Boniol, who also served as special teams assistant coach for the Cowboys from 2010-2013. In this game on Monday Night Football, the kicker tied an NFL record with seven field goals in this game. Going into the second half the Cowboys were leading 15-0. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter when Favre was finally able to get Green Bay on the board when the game was well in doubt. Following that score, Boniol came out for the record-tying kick.
Boniol tied the record with only seconds left in the game. The Packers team wasn’t happy about it as several defensive players were near the Cowboys sideline to confront then head coach Barry Switzer about it. One of those players was the legendary sack master Reggie White, who fans might remember had no issues with being vocal about Cowboys players, including Erik Williams.
The following year the two teams met at Lambeau field and the Cowboys would lose a four-touchdown game from Brett Favre and a 190-yard performance by Dorsey Levens. In the final game between these two in the 1990’s, Garrett would once again best Brett Favre with two touchdown passes to Raghib “Rocket” Ismail and David LaFleur. The running back on this day was Chris Warren and Robert Chancey. Following the Ismail touchdown and Richie Cunningham field goal the Cowboys take a 20-10 lead. The Pack cut the lead to seven before George Teague intercepted the pass at the five-yard line and took it 95 yards to seal the game 27-13.
THE 2000's: A NEW ERA
The Cowboys wouldn’t play the Packers again until 2004 with another trip to Lambeau field. That day the Cowboys would lose another by 21 points. In 2007 the Cowboys and Packers would play for the last time at Texas Stadium in the first full season with Tony Romo as the starting quarterback. Both teams came into the game with identical 10-1 records and an edge in the race for home-field advantage on the line.
Packers struck first with a field goal from Mason Crosby but the Cowboys would respond with two field goals by Nick Folk and a touchdown pass from Romo to Patrick Crayton to take an early 13-3 lead. Ryan Grant would then score a touchdown on a 62-yard run to pull within three late in the 1st quarter. The team would go on another run with touchdown passes to Anthony Fasano and Terrell Owens to take a 17-point lead. Nate Jones blitzed off the edge early on in this game to take Favre out.
This was the first time that the league would see eventual Super Bowl Champion and MVP Aaron Rodgers. The Rodgers-led offense would get within three points but Romo and this offense were too much for them. Cowboys would win the game 37-27. These teams met the next season at Lambeau. This marks the only time in history the Cowboys have won there. Cowboys won 27-16 after taking a 27-9 lead early in the fourth quarter and once again held on. This week three matchup featured both teams coming in at 2-0.
That game also marks the last time the Cowboys have defeated the Packers. Since then the team has lost five straight which includes the 45-7 debacle. Since Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 he had never fired a head coach in-season until that week following the game. Only one game during this streak has been played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. When the Cowboys had a commanding 26-3 halftime lead. Following the Dez Bryant touchdown in the fourth quarter, Matt Flynn and the Packers scored two touchdowns to win 37-36.
DEZ CAUGHT IT
This marks the second time the Cowboys will march into Lambeau following the playoff game that started the “Dez caught it” comments that you still hear two years later. Last year Dez Bryant was only able to catch one pass for nine yards. Dak Prescott will be making his first trip to historic Lambeau Field. Prescott has the Cowboys at 4-1 and in first place in the NFC East. The Packers are 3-1 and coming off a Sunday Night victory against the New York Giants. The Packers are 2nd in their division behind the undefeated Minnesota Vikings.
The game will air at 3:25 pm CST on Fox. The Packers are favored in this game by 4.5 points according to Bovoda. This season the Cowboys are 4-0-1 against the spread so look for this game to be close.
Follow Patrick Conn on twitter at @DraftCowboys