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Aaron Rodgers' heroics carry Packers past Cowboys

Aaron Rodgers found Davante Adams for a 12-yard touchdown to cap a one-minute drill and lead the Green Bay Packers to a thrilling 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Here's what we learned in Sunday's rematch of last season's NFC Divisional Round playoff clash:

  1. The magical Rodgers needed just 1:02 to go 75 yards in nine plays after watching Dallas pound out a masterful nine-minute drive of their own to reclaim the scoreboard with a 31-28 lead. With no timeouts and just under 30 seconds remaining, Rodgers scrambled for 18 yards to move the chains on third down and set up the game-winner. Overcoming a rash of injuries on the offensive line, at wide receiver and throughout the defense, the Packers have taken on the look of the NFC's team to beat this season. The missed time by key starters has not only revealed Green Bay's enviable depth on both sides of the ball, but also the requisite mental toughness to carry through the season.
  1. Dak Prescott deserved a better fate after unfurling three first-half touchdown passes and rushing for the go-ahead score on a perfectly-executed quarterback keeper in the waning moments of Sunday's nail-biter. The box score will show a crucial pick-six that put Green Bay ahead 28-24 early in the fourth quarter, but that error rests solely on the shoulders of Terrance Williams for a dropped pass into the hands of cornerback Damarious Randall. Prescott pulled off a convincing Roger Staubach impression, repeatedly escaping pressure to make plays with his legs as well as his arm. More than a mere sidekick, Ezekiel Elliott also merits plaudits for continually breaking the back of Green Bay's defense by grinding out tough yards in short-yardage situations. It took until Week 5, but the Cowboys' offense finally channeled dominant 2016 form.
  1. The Packers are a more effective running team featuring Aaron Jones, who authored a 100-yard performance in his first career start. A superlative athlete and UTEP's all-time leading rusher, the fifth-round rookie has shown quick feet, good vision and the ability to turn the corner against defensive backs and linebackers. Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have been singing his praises to national broadcast crews since the first week of the season. Even when Ty Montgomery returns from his rib injury, Jones is here to stay as at least a complementary piece in the ground attack. When the congruity strikes his fancy, McCarthy can roll out the "All-Aaron" backfield of Rodgers, Ripkowski and Jones.
  1. Keep an eye on Jordy Nelson's status in the coming days. The Pro Bowl wideout was standing on the sideline for the game-winning drive after failing to make his usual major impact for the majority of the afternoon. Nelson would have had a two-point conversion, but Rodgers overthrew him in the back of the end zone following Randall's touchdown. McCarthy expressed an abundance of confidence in his offense, telling FOX's Erin Andrews that the Cowboys simply could not stop the Packers' attack if Rodgers got his hands on the ball. As capable as No. 4 receiver Geronimo Allison might be, the tone in McCarthy's cocksure voice might lower a fewer notches if Nelson is forced to miss time.
  1. It was rewarding to see Adams play a hero's role just 10 days after he was taken off the field on a stretcher and hospitalized in Green Bay's Week 4 victory over the Bears. In addition to the decisive, leaping touchdown, Adams got the Packers on the scoreboard early, answering the Cowboys' game-opening touchdown with a beautiful 10-yard score of his own. Adams looks even quicker than he did last season en route to career-high production across the board.
  1. With the soul-crushing loss, the Cowboys will enter their bye week two full games behind the Eagles in the NFC East. On the bright side, pass rusher David Irving returned from suspension to record a pair of sacks, healthy hard hitter Anthony Hitchens tallied nine combined tackles and All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee is tentatively expected back from his hamstring injury in time to face the 49ers in Week 7.
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