Dallas drive before halftime
Point blank, this was the turning point of the game.
Green Bay hadn’t looked good at this point, but despite the offense not finding a rhythm (including the fumble by Nelson, settling for two field goals, and turning the ball over on downs) the defense had done enough to keep the score to just a 10-6 margin.
Even better: maligned Green Bay punter Jacob Schum had just helped pin the Cowboys at their own 3 yard line.
With Green Bay having all three of their timeouts left — and set to receive the kickoff after halftime — the team could quickly find themselves jumping out to a possible 16-10 (or even 20-10) lead right out of the half, completely changing the completion of the game and forcing Dallas to play from behind.
The drive started off alright: a 4 yard run by Elliott. The second was a little better — 5 yards this time by Elliott — but this still left Dallas needing to convert a 3rd-&-1. Should Green Bay stop them, this would let them get the ball back with about 40 seconds left at somewhere around midfield; at least a field goal (and maybe a TD) would be a fair expectation even for a struggling offense. Plus, even if Dallas does convert this play, it isn’t likely they do much more than just run out the clock; being so deep in their territory, anything else would be rightly considered unnecessarily aggressive and risky.
The result of this next play changed that.
Green Bay was likely expecting another run up the middle from Elliott, but Dallas went in another direction; instead, they called a jet sweep for Lucky Whitehead.
The Packers were unprepared for this new wrinkle, and it showed: Whitehead found space around the edge of the Green Bay defenders, running all the way to Dallas 38 before getting pushed out of bounds.
Dallas didn’t have any timeouts left, but they were far enough downfield to make it worthwhile to try getting into field goal range with 40 seconds left on the clock.
Turns out they wanted more — and took it. As mentioned previously, Prescott took advantage of bad coverage from Gunter to find Williams and then Butler for passes and the eventual score.
All of a sudden, a situation which weighed heavily in Green Bay’s favor to possibly take a lead — or at least stay within one score — turned into an 11-point deficit.
The game was far from over, but it definitely felt like the type of momentous shift which made that reality a lot harder to fathom.
This game was full of plays and performances we would all likely rather forget, and with a Thursday night game, the Packers have a chance to put it behind them quickly.
Here’s to hoping that effort looks a lot better than this one…as well as their last Thursday game against the Bears.