Best vs. Best: Unstoppable Force Beats Immovable Object

Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott almost rushed for as many yards by himself as the Packers had allowed in their first four games.

It’s one of the most famous of paradoxes.

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

On Sunday at Lambeau Field, the unstoppable force moved the immovable object for 191 yards.

That’s the number of rushing yards piled up by the Dallas Cowboys in their 30-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys entered this NFC showdown with the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack with 155.2 rushing yards per game. The Packers entered the game with the NFL’s top-ranked rushing defense with 171 rushing yards allowed in four games – the best second-fewest in the NFL since at least 1933.

“When you’re playing against a good team like that, you can’t give them an inch (or) they’ll take it a mile. And as you saw, that’s what happened today,” Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels said.

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The Packers entered the game with 19 tackles for losses that didn’t come on sacks. They had only two against Dallas. After playing suffocating run defense for four games, the Packers allowed the seventh-most rushing yards in a game this season.

“With every game, you have to make your necessary corrections and adjustments,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “There’s no doubt about that. They made their plays up front and had their way at times, whether it’s winning your one-on-one matchups or getting off blocks or just finishing the play, really. Overall, it just wasn’t good enough.”

Ezekiel Elliott, the fourth overall pick of this year’s draft, rushed for 157 yards by himself, becoming the first rookie in NFL history to top 130 rushing yards in four consecutive games.

“We are a physical team,” Elliott said. “A lot of teams can’t keep that physical presence for four quarters. We aren’t going to back down, no matter what front they bring. So just the attitude that we have wears those guys down.”

The Cowboys wasted no time. After Elliott gained 2 yards on the first play, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott faked to Elliott to set up a 14-yard completion to tight end Jason Witten. Elliott then ran for 11 and caught a pass for 15 to set up the opening touchdown, a 1-yard pass to receiver Cole Beasley.

Late in the first half, the mere threat of Elliott got the Cowboys in position for a huge touchdown drive. With Dallas backed up at its 3, two consecutive runs by Elliott set up a third-and-1. With all eyes on Elliott, the Cowboys ran an end-around to receiver Lucky Whitehead for a gain of 26. Two long passes from Prescott, including a 20-yard touchdown to Bruce Butler, gave the Cowboys a 17-6 lead at halftime.

Elliott had 60 rushing yards at halftime – the Packers had given up 42.8 per game to start the season. He was only getting started. On Dallas’ first play of the third quarter, he burst through a hole for 25 yards to help Dallas kick a field goal. Later, on another third-and-1, Prescott used play-action and hit Whitehead for a gain of 35, the key play of a drive that extended the lead to 27-9. Finally, late in the fourth quarter, Elliott had a 29-yard run to help put the game away.

“I need to thank my offensive line,” Elliott said. “Those guys worked their tails off. They make it easy for me.”

And hard on defenses. The Packers entered the game allowing 1.99 yards per carry – the NFL’s best through four games in 60 years and almost a full yard better than any team this season. But Dallas averaged 5.8 yards per carry in a dominating performance.

The Packers’ run defense might have broken – at least for one game. The confidence remains intact, with a short turnaround to Thursday night’s home game against Chicago.

“No. Not at all,” Daniels said. “We’ve just got to be more sound. We’ve got to be more sound. We weren’t today, flat-out. The good thing is, we come back Thursday, still at home, and we owe our fans better than that.”

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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