ARLINGTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – The Green Bay Packers have enjoyed a number of special seasons in the past. This one, though, feels even more so.
Green Bay is one win away from the Super Bowl after beating the Dallas Cowboys 34-31 on Mason Crosby’s field goal as time expired Sunday. The Packers are at Atlanta in the NFC Championship next Sunday.
Beating the Cowboys the way they did is something that Aaron Rodgers will treasure … at least until next week.
“This one’s special,” Rodgers said. “More special than we’ve had around here in a while.”
On third down with 12 seconds remaining, Rodgers, scrambling to his left, rifled a 36-yard completion to Jared Cook, who dragged his toes in bounds at the 33-yard line with 3 seconds on the clock. Crosby followed with a game-winner just inside the left upright, after his first attempt right down the middle was waived off after the Cowboys called a timeout right before the snap.
“It’s unreal,” Crosby said. “When we have 35 seconds left on the clock and that offense can move the ball into field-goal range for a manageable kick, that’s just special.”
Green Bay has reached the Super Bowl four times previously, with the last being a win over Pittsburgh to close out the 2010 season. That win came in Arlington in the same stadium the Packers won in Sunday.
Those vibes from six years ago were alive once again.
“This is an outstanding victory for us,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’ve obviously won a lot of games in a row and our focus is obviously now on Atlanta and the goal that I think every team has when the season starts.
“We’re an excellent football team and we’re two steps away from achieving greatness.”
The Packers have been a different team, Rodgers especially, during their eight-game winning streak. He never panicked with the game on the line, despite his team giving up an 18-point first-half lead.
“I felt good. I felt calm,” Rodgers said of the last drive. “I was very positive in the huddle, and I felt like we were going to go down and score.”
Atlanta is led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan, perhaps the only quarterback around as hot as Rodgers.
“They are very explosive,” Packers linebacker Nick Perry said of the Falcons. “When we look at the film, we gave to make sure we don’t give up those explosive plays. Everything lives off that.”
–Praise for Cowboys
A number of Packers praised the Cowboys on their season, including McCarthy and Rodgers. Rodgers has been particularly impressed by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
“Dak and Zeke had phenomenal seasons, and I think it’s just the beginning for the Cowboys,” Rodgers said. “There’s going to be more battles like this over the years. They should be really proud of what they accomplished.”