Up next: Dallas win a springboard for Pack?

Habitually introspective linebacker Nick Barnett said the Packers' season would have been "over" had they lost Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, by scoring a convincing 17-7 win over the red-hot NFC East leaders, Green Bay just might have hopped on the springboard to turn its season around after a disappointing 4-4 start.

The Packers seemingly were fading fast with two straight losses, including a 38-28 meltdown at the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 8, before they did a number on the Cowboys.

"I guess sometimes you have to have a big setback like that," nickelback Tramon Williams said of the loss to the Bucs. "It's unfortunate that you have to have it like that, to open your eyes."

The near-shutout of the Cowboys -- Roy Williams caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo with 38 seconds left -- put Green Bay back in the thick of the chase for the two NFC wild-card playoff spots.

The Packers are one of four non-division leaders in a logjam at 5-4. Next up is another key intraconference game against the San Francisco 49ers, who come into the game with a 4-5 record.

It could be as much of a defensive tussle as Sunday's game was for Green Bay, which exerted its will against an elite opponent for the first time this season.

"We were sending guys from everywhere, and that's how this defense is supposed to look," cornerback Al Harris said. "This is a pressure defense."

A heavy dose of blitzing by Green Bay's 3-4 scheme resulted in a career-high-tying five sacks of Romo and three Cowboys turnovers.

The Packers came into the game with only 13 sacks, and first-year defensive coordinator Dom Capers was an easy target for criticism for Green Bay's struggles in generating pressure on the quarterback.

Big-play cornerback Charles Woodson led the onslaught with a goal-line interception and two forced fumbles -- one on a blindside sack of Romo deep in Cowboys territory that set up an easy clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"It was a big stage; we know that," Woodson said. "To finally (win) a game where I know a lot of people probably doubted us, it feels good." Woodson added a few words of caution, however.

"This won't mean anything if we don't win next week," he said. "This game was fun, and it could be fun the rest of the season. But, it could also be tough if we don't do what we need to do."

LINEUP WATCH: The Packers went with their sixth different starting offensive line in only nine games Sunday, but the inclusion of rookie T.J. Lang at right tackle for the first time could merit permanent consideration. Lang had a satisfactory performance in place of veteran Mark Tauscher, who suffered an injury to his surgically repaired left knee in the previous game. Tauscher isn't expected to be sidelined long, but Lang's potential is too great to send him back to the bench. The fourth-round draft pick out of Eastern Michigan has been dependable wherever Green Bay has put him, including two starts at left tackle for then-injured Chad Clifton earlier in the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Consecutive wins by the Packers over the 49ers, a streak that began in 1999 and includes an NFC wild-card playoff victory during the 2001 season.


--- LB Aaron Kampman didn't play in Sunday's 17-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys because of a concussion sustained the previous week. It was the first game Kampman missed for an injury reason since Oct. 12, 2003.

--- LB Brady Poppinga, a potential starting replacement for Kampman, also was sidelined Sunday because of a quadriceps injury that flared up after the last game.

--- LB Brad Jones, a rookie, made his starting debut at left outside linebacker with Kampman and Poppinga out. Jones was credited with seven tackles.

--- LB Brandon Chillar was activated Sunday but didn't play. The effective nickel linebacker was questionable coming into the game because of a broken right hand that kept him out of the previous game. Chillar will be wearing a big, club-like cast on the hand for at least the next few weeks.

--- WR Jordy Nelson returned to action after missing the previous three games because of a knee sprain. He was limited to receiving duties and didn't go back to his dual role as a kick returner.

--- TE Jermichael Finley didn't play for a third straight game because of a knee sprain. He's been making progress in his recovery but hadn't been cleared to return to the practice field leading up to Sunday's game.

--- FB Korey Hall played for the first time in five games, rotating in with John Kuhn as the blocking back. Hall had been sidelined with a calf injury.

Niners Digest Top Stories