Postgame schadenfreude, How ’Bout Them Cowboys edition

Readers may have noticed I didn’t write much about the Packers–Cowboys NFC divisional playoff game before Sunday, and that’s because I thought the Packers didn’t have much chance of winning it.

I did not see the Cowboys going to the Super Bowl, because at some point a rookie quarterback and rookie running back hit a playoff wall. I was right about that, though I thought they’d lose in the NFC championship, not one week earlier.

Well, on this score I’m happy to be wrong. Thanks to an amazing catch by tight end Jared Cook …

… Mason Crosby’s 107 yards of fourth-quarter field goals sent the Cowboys to wherever they go for the offseason, 34–31, delighting all non-fans of Jerry Jones:

… along with the idiot sportsyakker Skip Bayless, who is more in the tank for the Cowboys than the Washington press corps was in the tank for Barack Obama. Bayless tweeted after the game:

More I see winning FG, more I see a very weird thing: It hooked hard left, then straightened out. Obviously no wind. Like meant to be.

Reportedly the Packers played the Cowboys’ “anthem,” Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boys,” in the locker room afterward:

The Dallas Morning News’ Jon Maschota asks and answers:

1. What happened on the opening drive? 

The Cowboys were moving the ball, then threw on third and 2 and settled for a 50-yard Dan Bailey field goal. Why didn’t they run Ezekiel Elliott? Instead, Dak Prescott threw to a double-covered Dez Bryant. After that pass fell incomplete, why not run Zeke on fourth-and-2? Bailey gave the Cowboys the early 3-0 lead but Dallas basically played catch up from there on out. Yes, it was only the first possession. But I think it went a long way in setting the tone for the next three quarters. …

3. Misplaced blame

Some will blame the Cowboys going nearly a month without playing a meaningful game. I don’t think that was the reason for Sunday’s final score. They entered the fourth quarter down 28-13 and were within a few seconds of forcing OT. Rust wasn’t the reason for the loss, it was just great QB play by the opposing QB. No doubt, this is a disappointing end to a 13-3 season. They were talented enough to go to the Super Bowl. They didn’t. But a young QB, RB and O-line make this result feel much different than the one two years ago in Green Bay. …

5. Aaron Rodgers is unreal

I don’t know if anyone has ever played the quarterback position at a higher level than Aaron Rodgers played it for most of Sunday afternoon. He was nothing like the player the Cowboys saw in Week 6. He was basically flawless. Without Rodgers, I don’t know if the Packers would win more than five or six games. With him, they have a chance to win the Super Bowl.

Kevin Sherrington adds:

As the Cowboys found out Sunday at JerryWorld, the road to the Super Bowl doesn’t necessarily go through Corsicana, Buffalo and Huntsville.

Passes through Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and probably Tom Brady, as usual.

And as Rodgers spectacularly demonstrated in a 34-31 win before 93,396 fans who’d practically lifted the lid on the joint, that’s a more dangerous passage for this Cowboys defense, in particular. And no Buc-ee’s to break it up, either.

Forget the Rodgers who looked lost in the Cowboys’ 30-16 win at Lambeau back in October. This was vintage Rodgers, and the Cowboys couldn’t stop him early or late.

No sooner had Dak Prescott led the Cowboys on an improbable game-tying drive, Rodgers answered.

Twice.

No Jordy Nelson? No problem. No Davante Adams? Ditto.

Rodgers went into the game without Nelson, his leading receiver. And he lost Adams on the Packers’ next-to-last drive.

But an unbelievable throw-and-catch from Rodgers to tight end Jared Cook as the latter was going out of bounds set up Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal as time expired.

You could argue that the Cowboys dug themselves a hole too deep in the first half, giving up three touchdowns to the Packers. The Cowboys’ defense couldn’t generate any pressure with a four-man front, and Rodgers picked the Cowboys apart.

Even when Rod Marinelli dialed up more blitzes in the second half, it still wasn’t enough with the game on the line.

Because with the game on the line, Rodgers is as good as they come. And that’s the problem getting to the Super Bowl in Houston. …

Dak showed signs late that he could go toe-to-toe with Rodgers, but that wasn’t the problem. The Cowboys’ offense answered. The defense didn’t.

Not against a quarterback on the level of Rodgers, which is what you get this time of year.

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