Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys-Packers postseason battles have a bitter history

Green Bay Packers Jim Taylor runs with a Bart Starr pass as Dallas Cowboys Mel Renfro (20) leaps high in air too late to break up the pass during the NFL Championship game, Jan. 1, 1967 in Dallas, Tx. At left is Cowboys Chuck Howley (54). The Packers defeated the Cowboys 34-27.
Green Bay Packers Jim Taylor runs with a Bart Starr pass as Dallas Cowboys Mel Renfro (20) leaps high in air too late to break up the pass during the NFL Championship game, Jan. 1, 1967 in Dallas, Tx. At left is Cowboys Chuck Howley (54). The Packers defeated the Cowboys 34-27. AP

The Dallas Cowboys have played 60 playoff games. Seven of those were against the Green Bay Packers. Their eighth meeting is Sunday. Here’s a look back at their past duels, some of which are stamped as NFL lore.

 
Green Bay Packers Elijah Pitts (22) looks for a way to run as Dallas Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan (55) grabs him from behind during the NFL Championship Jan. 1, 1967 in Dallas. AP Photo

Jan. 1, 1967

NFL championship, Cotton Bowl

Green Bay

14

7

7

6

34

Dallas

14

3

3

7

27

 

After their first winning season in seven years of existence, the Cowboys got their first taste of the playoffs, and it was at the Cotton Bowl. This also was the first title game played after the AFL-NFL merger in June 1966. The Cowboys were young. Only Chuck Howley was over 30 years old. What awaited them was a Packers team featuring nine starters, plus coach Vince Lombardi, who would later be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: FB Jim Taylor, RT Forrest Gregg, QB Bart Starr, LB Ray Nitschke, LB Dave Robinson, CB Herb Adderley, DE Willie Davis, DT Henry Jordan and S Willie Wood.

The Packers scored on the game’s opening drive, then again on an 18-yard return of Mel Renfro’s fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Dallas was down 14-0 before its offense took the field. The Cowboys tied the game on first-quarter touchdown runs by Dan Reeves and Don Perkins. Green Bay pulled away on Starr touchdown passes to Carroll Dale, Boyd Dowler and Max McGee, who would catch two touchdown passes two weeks later in Super Bowl I. Still, the Cowboys had a chance. A 68-yard scoring pass from Don Meredith to Frank Clarke brought the Cowboys within a touchdown. They had a final opportunity to force overtime with a first-and-goal on the 2-yard line, but Meredith’s fourth-down throw to Bob Hayes was intercepted by Tom Brown.

 
Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr (15) at left foreground, digs his face across the goal line to score the winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. AP Photo

Dec. 31, 1967

NFL championship, Lambeau Field

Dallas

0

10

0

7

17

Green Bay

7

7

0

7

21

 

The “Ice Bowl.” A game-time temperature of minus-15 degrees with a wind chill of minus-48 degrees set the backdrop for one of the most memorable games in NFL history. It was so cold that a college marching band canceled its performance after woodwinds froze and brass instrument mouthpieces stuck to performers’ lips. Bart Starr connected on two touchdown passes to Boyd Dowler as Green Bay again got off to a 14-0 start.

Dallas scored 10 second-quarter points without gaining a first down. First, George Andrie returned a Starr fumble for a touchdown and then the Packers fumbled a punt that the Cowboys turned into a field goal just before halftime. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys went to the back of the playbook to pull out an old favorite called “Fire Pitch.” Halfback Dan Reeves took a pitch to the left, pulled up and passed to Lance Rentzel for a 50-yard touchdown strike and a 17-14 lead. That lead held until Green Bay drove 68 yards in the final four minutes. On third down at the 1 with no timeouts and 16 seconds left to play, Starr sneaked behind guard Jerry Kramer into the end zone for the tough win on a tough day.

 
Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey (12) is sacked for a nine yard loss on a safety blitz by Cowboys safety Michael Downs (26) during third quarter action in Irving, Texas, on Sunday, Jan. 16, 1983. AP Photo/David Breslauer

Jan. 16, 1983

Division round, Texas Stadium

Green Bay

0

7

6

13

26

Dallas

6

14

3

14

37

 

A two-month players’ strike shortened the 1982 season to nine games. That created an expanded 16-team Super Bowl tournament. After the Cowboys and Packers blew out first-round opponents, they met at Texas Stadium. Dallas used a pair of field goals, a Timmy Newsome short scoring run and an interception return for a touchdown by Dennis Thurman for a 20-7 halftime lead. Green Bay made it close on a 71-yard reverse run by receiver James Lofton. The Cowboys forced five Packers turnovers, which neutralized Green Bay’s 466 yards of offense. The win sent the Cowboys to the conference championship. They would lose the next week at Washington, the Cowboys’ third NFC title game loss in a row.

 
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin (88) salutes the crowd as Alvin Harper (80) congratulates quarterback Troy Aikman (8) following Irvin's third quarter touchdown catch. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Jan. 16, 1994

Division round, Texas Stadium

Green Bay

3

0

7

7

17

Dallas

0

17

7

3

27

 

A year removed from their first Super Bowl win under owner Jerry Jones, the dynasty Cowboys of the early 1990s were just hitting their stride. After an 0-2 start to the season, minus star running back Emmitt Smith, who was holding out for a better contract, the Cowboys got Smith signed and rolled to a 12-2 mark the rest of the regular season.

The first-round meeting with the Packers continued that roll. An early 3-0 Packers lead was wiped away. Troy Aikman hit Alvin Harper, Jay Novacek and Michael Irvin for touchdown passes as the Cowboys went up 24-3. Green Bay’s 24-year-old gunslinger, Brett Favre, threw two late scoring strikes and passed for a career playoff-high 331 yards in the first of three consecutive postseason losses at Dallas.

 
Dallas Cowboys' defensive back Darrin Smith (59) hits Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre (4) in the third quarter of their NFC playoff game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 1995 in Irving, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Jan. 8, 1995

Division round, Texas Stadium

Green Bay

3

6

0

0

9

Dallas

14

14

0

7

35

 

In Barry Switzer’s first playoff game as coach, Emmitt Smith ran seven times for 44 yards and a first-quarter touchdown before leaving early with a hamstring injury. Backup Blair Thomas filled in nicely, gaining 70 yards on 23 carries with a pair of touchdown plunges. Dallas led 28-9 at halftime and didn’t let up. The Cowboys had season highs in passing yards (330) and total offense (450) in the game, but both would be surpassed a week later in an NFC conference championship loss at San Francisco.

 
Green Bay Packers' Keith Jackson flips the football over the goal post after catching a second quarter touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Championship game in Irving, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 14, 1996. AP Photo/David Phillip

Jan. 14, 1996

NFC championship, Texas Stadium

Green Bay

10

7

10

0

27

Dallas

14

10

0

14

38

 

After two Michael Irvin touchdown catches got the Cowboys started, the Packers rode the right arm of Brett Favre to a second-quarter lead. Favre threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brooks and a 24-yard strike to Keith Jackson. But Green Bay didn’t have an answer for Emmitt Smith. Trailing 17-14 in the second quarter, the Cowboys took over, particularly Smith, who gained 132 of his 150 rushing yards, and scored three touchdowns from that point. The Cowboys would go on to beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX, their most recent championship.

 
Dez Bryant (88) makes a would be catch over Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) late in the fourth quarter. The play was ruled a catch but was overturned via instant replay. Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins

Jan. 11, 2015

Division round, Lambeau Field

Dallas

7

7

7

0

21

Green Bay

7

3

10

6

26

 

The surprising 13-4 Cowboys made their first postseason visit to Lambeau Field since the Ice Bowl nearly 50 years earlier. Aaron Rodgers passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns — two in the second half — despite a calf injury that limited his mobility. But the play that everyone remembers was the Cowboys’ shot at glory.

Trailing 26-21 with about five minutes to play, the Cowboys faced a fourth-and-2 from the Packers’ 32-yard line. Quarterback Tony Romo lofted a pass that Dez Bryant went high over Sam Shields to grab. Bryant took a step, stumbled on the next, and lunged for the goal line. When he hit the ground, he briefly lost contact with the ball, regained it, and rolled into the end zone. It sure looked like a catch, but the NFL ruled that Bryant did not hold on “throughout the entire process of contacting the ground.” That was the Cowboys’ last taste of the postseason, until this Sunday.

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