Packers Streak Into Bye By Blasting Cowboys

All three phases pitched in as first-place Green Bay stormed to 28-7 lead at halftime against Dallas. The Packers, with a three-game winning streak, improved to 6-3 and get a much-needed week off with a half-game lead over Chicago in the NFC North.

At 1-6 heading into Sunday night's game at Green Bay, Dallas receiver Roy Williams talked of his belief that the Cowboys could run the table and make the playoffs.

That would require a little more fight from his squad.

Green Bay set the tempo from the get-go, with Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett stopping Marion Barber on third-and-1 on the opening possession. And the Packers' sputtering offense, which hadn't scored a touchdown in its previous 16 possessions, didn't even have to punt until Aaron Rodgers was on the bench after a virtuoso performance.

Add it up, and first-place Green Bay (6-3) strolled into its bye week with a three-game winning streak after a 45-7 thrashing of the Cowboys.

All three phases contributed big plays as the Packers led 28-7 at halftime. On defense, Woodson and Pickett energized the crowd on the first drive. On offense, Greg Jennings and James Jones had long receptions to set up touchdowns. And on special teams, Jarrett Bush forced a fumble that popped right into the hands of Nick Collins for a 26-yard touchdown return that made it a stunning 28-0 with 2:04 remaining in the half.

The Packers settled for a 28-7 lead at halftime, with overwhelming advantages of 2-0 in turnovers, 256-95 in yards and 16-4 in first downs.

When Jones tacked on a 10-yard touchdown reception with the Packers' first possession of the third quarter, Green Bay had scoring drives of eight, seven, 10 and eight plays. Jones scored on third down, running their conversion rate on the night to 8-of-9.

After Mason Crosby tacked on a short field goal with about 13 minutes remaining in the game, the Packers held a 408-87 edge in yards, including 128-5 on the ground. Rodgers' night ended at that point, with 27-of-34 accuracy for 289 yards and three touchdowns.

For the coup de grace, Woodson's deflection on a blitz dropped right into the lap of Clay Matthews, who raced 62 yards for a touchdown that made it 45-7 with 11:07 to go.

The moment

Green Bay's opening drive ended in a sack and a blocked field goal. Dallas needed a fast start for its confidence but didn't get it. Jon Kitna went deep up the left sideline to star rookie Dez Bryant, but undrafted rookie cornerback Sam Shields was in perfect position for his first career interception. The Packers offense took the ball 63 yards for a 7-0 lead, and the rout was on.

The player

Rodgers had come under increasing criticism. He was turning it over too often. He wasn't accurate. He wasn't taking what was there. Through three quarters against Dallas, he was 26-of-31 for 276 yards, plus chipped in 41 yards on scrambles.

The number

24: The combined final margin of the last six games.

The quote

Rodgers, on the offense finally getting on track: "We were 3-3 coming off two straight losses in overtime and there was definitely some doubts creeping in, wondering what the last 10 (games) would hold for us, and (we) realized we needed to make a push here these next three games and we did. A big win against Minnesota, went to New York, beat a very good football team and came home and beat a wounded animal in Dallas the way we feel like we were capable of playing. We played very well on defense for the second straight week and offensively, we finally carried our burden there, carried our load."

The division

In a wild day, the Bears and Vikings won by three and the Lions lost by three, with the Minnesota and Detroit games going to overtime. Brett Favre threw for a career-high 446 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions to rally the Vikings from a 24-10 fourth-quarter deficit and a 27-24 win over visiting Arizona. The Bears were in jeopardy of losing to the winless Bills in Toronto, with Buffalo driving to add to its 19-14 lead. But Tim Jennings picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chicago marched to the touchdown for a 22-19 win. It was a horrible day for the Lions, who blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead thanks to bad clock management and a worse late-hit penalty in the final 2 minutes at home against the Jets. Adding injury to insult in a 23-20 overtime loss, star quarterback Matthew Stafford re-injured his right shoulder in the fourth quarter.

The other things you might have missed

-- Defensive end Ryan Pickett, who was questionable with a sprained ankle, played but re-injured the ankle and was taken to the locker room for X-rays in the second quarter. X-rays were negative, coach Mike McCarthy said after the game.

-- Charlie Peprah started at safety and played the first quarter, with Atari Bigby replacing him for the second quarter. Peprah lined up to start the second half, as well, as the quarterly rotation continued.

-- With his first-quarter sack, Clay Matthews upped his season total to 10.5, becoming the first player in franchise history to start his career with back-to-back 10-sack seasons since the NFL began tracking the statistic in 1982.

-- The Packers' 28-point second quarter was their most since scoring 28 in the same period of a 28-13 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on Dec. 20, 1992.

-- Sam Shields told our Matt Tevsh on Friday that he hadn't been working on kickoff returns. Sure enough, when Dallas kicked off to start the second half, Shields ran it back 49 yards.

-- The Packers have turned a turnover into a touchdown in 15 consecutive home games, the longest streak in the NFL.

-- On Jones' 10-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, he set a career high with his seventh reception.

-- The inactives: cornerback/kickoff Pat Lee , linebacker Robert Francois, offensive linemen Mark Tauscher, Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse, receiver Donald Driver, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive end Jarius Wynn.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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