The Dallas Cowboys (6–3), winners of four straight games, entered Lambeau Field on Sunday with the chance to put some separation between themselves and the rest of the NFC East. Instead, Tony Romo and the Dallas offense laid an egg and lost 17–7 to the Green Bay Packers (5–4).
With the New York Giants having a bye week and the Philadelphia Eagles on the West Coast to face the San Diego Chargers, the stage was set for the Cowboys to gain some ground against a struggling Packers team.
But credit must be given to the Packers who put up a defensive performance worthy of some of the best accolades that come to mind. They were 38 seconds from shutting out the high-powered offense of the Cowboys, something that had not been done in six years.
Romo was sacked five times for 34 yards lost, the ground game was held to 61 net yards, and Dallas’s main offensive thrust was only allowed to take place once Green Bay had a comfortable 17-point lead deep into the final quarter.
The first half was a defensive battle as the teams combined for 13 possessions, nine punts, and two missed field goals. Green Bay kicked a 48-yard field goal on the last play of the first half. We nearly witnessed the first scoreless first half of the season.
Cornerback Charles Woodson had a huge game for the Packers. Woodson sacked Romo early in the fourth quarter, which caused the Dallas QB to fumble. The ball was recovered by the Packers and then three plays later, Aaron Rodgers tossed a two-yard TD pass to Spencer Havner for a 17–0 lead. Woodson also came up with a diving interception on the Green Bay goal line to prevent a Dallas TD later in the fourth quarter.
Aaron Rodgers had a decent game and leaned on his running backs and defense to do most of the heavy lifting. “Defense did a great job. We just kept plugging away, stayed with the run,” he said in an interview with NBC after the game.
While the Packers were in a must-win situation, they remain three games back of the Minnesota Vikings (8–1). Currently, the NFC has seven teams with records of 5–4 or 4–5. Out of these seven teams and a couple more at 3–6, two wild card teams will emerge.
Bengals Sweep Steelers
The Cincinnati Bengals (7–2) proved it was no fluke when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (6–3) at home earlier this year. This time, at Heinz Field, it was their defense that proved superior to the Steelers’ defense in an 18–12 win.
Even without leading rusher Cedric Benson, the Bengals were able to have a modest running attack which allowed their own defense to rest and, to some extent, chew up the clock and keep the Steelers' offense on the sidelines.
Ben Roethlisberger had his worst game of the season. The Bengals four-man defensive line constantly hit Big Ben and the secondary blanketed the Steelers’ receivers. Roethlisberger only completed half his passes and for the first time this year, he didn’t throw a TD pass. He passed for less than 200 yards with one interception.
The only touchdown in the game came in the first quarter when Cincinnati’s Bernard Scott returned a kick-off 96 yards.
The Bengals have now swept the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens (who travel to Cleveland Monday night) and are a perfect 5–0 in divisional games.
Quarterback Carson Palmer wanted to cool off any talk of increased expectations. “We’re not good enough to win the Super Bowl now. We have a long way to go,” he said in his post-game press conference.
The New York Jets (4–5) slumped to their fifth loss in six games after losing 24–22 to the Jacksonville Jaguars (5–4).
Down 22–21 deep into the fourth quarter, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew could have run in for a touchdown but instead dropped to one knee on the one-yard line to keep the clock running. There was less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Realizing the clock was the bigger enemy, the Jaguars were able to run down the clock and kick the winning field goal.
“Smartest play of the game. That’s an MVP play right there,” said Jets QB Mark Sanchez.
In addition to making a smart play, Jones-Drew also ran for 123 yards and scored a TD.
San Francisco 10, Chicago 6 (played Thursday)
Carolina 28, Atlanta 19
Miami 25, Tampa Bay 23
Minnesota 27, Detroit 10
New Orleans 28, St. Louis 23
Kansas City 16, Oakland 10
San Diego 31, Philadelphia 23
Tennessee 41, Buffalo 17
Washington 27, Denver 17
Arizona 31, Seattle 20
Indianapolis 35, New England 34
Baltimore, Cleveland (Monday night)