Cowboys hold off Packers, 37-27

Despite spotting the Dallas Cowboys an early 17-point lead, the Green Bay Packers battled back without an injured Brett Favre to within three points before falling to the Cowboys for the ninth straight time Thursday night in Irving, Texas.

Tony Romo threw for 309 yards and four touchdown passes, two to wide receiver Patrick Crayton, as the Cowboys (11-1) bolted to a 27-10 lead early in the second quarter. Romo's four-yard touchdown pass to Crayton midway through the fourth quarter gave Dallas a 34-24 lead, and the Packers never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

The Packers played without injured cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, then lost Favre for the rest of the game with 10:11 left in the second quarter when he was hit by blitzing cornerback Nate Jones. Favre sustained a separated left shoulder and injured right forearm, which left his arm tingling and difficult to grip the ball. He was forced to leave the game, giving way to Aaron Rodgers.

Despite the injuries, Favre feels that he will be ready to play when the Packers (10-2) play host to the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 9 at Lambeau Field.

"I couldn't go back into the game and, believe me, I wanted to," said Favre. "We have four days (off) before we start back into a normal week (of preparation). I anticipate being fine. I hope I am, but there has been numerous times where it has come down to a day before the game. I don't envision this being one of 'em, but we'll wait and see. I'm not getting any younger. It takes a little longer to recover, but I think I'll be OK."

The 38-year-old Favre started his 249th straight regular season game (269 including playoffs) against the Cowboys, extending his record starting streak for NFL quarterbacks. Favre completed 5 of 14 passes for 56 yards with two interceptions.

Rodgers played well in relief of Favre, completing 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards and his first touchdown pass of his three-year career.

"I thought Aaron went in and played well," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "He gave us an opportunity to win the football game. We didn't slow down with our plan. I thought he played well."

The Cowboys cashed in on Favre's interceptions in the first half, scoring touchdowns on both miscues. The Cowboys also took advantage of long pass interference penalties on wide receiver Miles Austin in the second and fourth quarters. Jarrett Bush, starting in place of Woodson, was flagged in the second quarter. Tramon Williams, who took over for an ineffective Bush in the second half, was penalized for pass interference on Austin in the fourth quarter at the Packers' 5. Romo found Crayton two plays later in the end zone as the Cowboys stretched their lead to 34-24.

Romo was 9 of 15 for 197 yards in the first two quarters, picking apart a Packers defense that played without Woodson (toe) and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (ankle). Both players traveled to Dallas but were scratched just before the start of the game.

"We had a lot of fight. I was pleased with that," said McCarthy. "We just made a lot of mistakes."

The Packers were penalized nine times for 142 yards. "It comes down to fundamental football," McCarthy said. "We made some mistakes in the coverage unit and need to get that cleaned up as we move forward."

Despite the mistakes, Rodgers nearly rallied the Packers past the Cowboys. He threw his first career touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings from 9 yards out to close the Packers to 27-17 with 31 seconds left in the first half. Rodgers' 32-yard pass to Jennings early in the 74-yard drive moved Green Bay to Dallas' 33.

Rodgers led the Packers on a 70-yard drive in the third quarter that was capped by Ryan Grant's 1-yard touchdown plunge with 5:15 left as Green Bay narrowed the gap to 27-24.

Grant finished with 94 yards rushing, including a 62-yard burst through hole in the right side of the line with 1 second left in the first quarter to help the Packers close to 13-10.

The Cowboys scored on their first five possessions, including two touchdowns off two Favre interceptions, to take a 27-10 lead early in the second quarter. Romo threw touchdown passes to Crayton, tight end Anthony Fasano and wide receiver Terrell Owens, who had six catches for 147 yards in the first half.

Owens finished with seven catches for 156 yards.

Cornerback Terence Newman made a diving interception of the fluttering pass by Favre on the play in which he was injured, and Dallas wasted no time to capitalize Bush was called for pass interference on a deep pass to Austin, setting up first-and-goal at the Packers' 5. Dallas was penalized for a false start and Fasano was unable to hold onto a pass in the end zone, but Romo hit a wide open Owens for his 14th touchdown reception of the season as the Cowboys stretched their lead to 27-10 with 9:53 left in the half.

The Cowboys capitalized on Favre's first interception in three games when Romo found Crayton wide open in the back of the end zone from three yards out. It was Romo's franchise record 30th touchdown of the season, and it came two plays after he completed a 34-yard pass to a wide open Owens to Green Bay's 7. The Packers came out passing from the get-go and marched 40 yards before Crosby's 40-yard field goal gave Green Bay a 3-0 lead. Favre's 14-yard pass to wide receiver Ruvell Martin ignited the drive, and Favre's 12-yard pass to wide receiver James Jones put the Packers on the Cowboys' 38. Favre's pass on third-and-1 to Driver in the end zone was incomplete and the Packers settled for a field goal.

Nick Folk made field goal attempts from 26 and 51 yards on Dallas' next two drives as the Cowboys took a 6-3 lead.


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