The Green Bay Packers’ defense that has largely been absent since the team’s last win – over the Cleveland Browns – essentially saved the Packers’ season in Sunday’s 17-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
That unit everyone remembers from the preseason and dominating wins over the lowly Detroit Lions and Browns was back in full effect, giving the Packers their first win over a quality opponent this season. Especially impressive was cornerback Charles Woodson, who turned in one of the most dominating games of his career, registering nine tackles, a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles.
The Packers registered five sacks overall and didn’t seem to miss the injured Aaron Kampman at all. Kampman’s replacement, Brad Jones, registered seven solo tackles and Nick Barnett had perhaps his best game of the season, with eight tackles and two sacks.
The Packers held the Cowboys vaunted running game to 61 yards and pressured quarterback Tony Romo throughout the day.
After losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, the Packers were reeling at 4-4. The Cowboys, meanwhile, had won four straight entering Sunday’s contest. The Packers victory is not only impressive because of the dominating defensive performance over a quality, and hot, offensive opponent, but important in that it puts the team back in the playoff conversation.
The Packers are one of four teams at 5-4 in contention for two wild card spots. The others are the Eagles, Giants and Falcons.
While the Packers’ victory can’t be underestimated, it wasn’t exactly pretty.
As impressive as the Packers’ defense was, the offense was lackluster.
The Packers gave up four sacks – two to DeMarcus Ware – and were the same below-average pass protection unit on display all season. Aaron Rodgers was a mediocre 25-of-36 for 189 yards.
Rodgers made just enough plays when it counted, converting crucial third-and-long situations, running for one score and passing for a short one to Spencer Havner.
Penalties continue to rear their ugly head, but deficiencies like this will be overlooked for at least one week.
The bottom line is, the Packers got a win they desperately needed.