Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gave the Dallas Cowboys one gigantic headache Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
Looking as sharp as he’s looked the past eight games, Rodgers repeatedly did his Houdini act so many times that at times it really did seem like the Cowboys’ defense had disappeared.
"He’s a great quarterback, and he proved it out there,’’ safety Barry Church said. "He diced us up early in the game and once we got a handle on it, it was too late.
"They jumped on us too early, we chipped away at them. But he’s a great player, and great players make big-time plays, and he was able to do that.’’
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Rodgers was the same menace to the Cowboys’ defense that he’s been the last two months while leading the Packers to eight straight victories. Victory No. 8 came at the Cowboys’ expense as the Packers used some late-game dramatics from Rodgers to eke out a 34-31 victory.
"He’s spectacular,’’ Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones said. "The guy can roll out, he can throw the ball on a dime, he can find his receivers.
"They know what to do. When he breaks the pocket they’re scrambling.’’
Even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had to tip his hat to the spectacular performance b y Rodgers.
"On an individual basis I don’t think that I’ve seen more of an individual dictate how that game came out,’’ Jerry Jones said. "I give him all his dues.
"He made the great plays and responded to what we did. I thought he did outstanding.’’
The most outstanding play of the night that Rodgers performed occurred when he rolled out to his left to extend the play and rifled a perfect 36-yard pass to tight end Jared Cook with three seconds left in the game. Cook barley got two feet inbounds – the play was reviewed by the officials – and Mason Crosby kicked a 51-yard field goal to win the game as time expired.
"Well, obviously what you’re trying to do as much as anything else is you’re defending field position in that situation,’’ coach Jason Garrett said. "But again, when the quarterback is able to extend the play and get out of the pocket – and this quarterback is able to throw from any body position to anywhere in the field – it becomes more challenging.
"He made a big-time play, he bought himself some time. The coverage broke down a little bit and they put themselves into position to win the game.’’
Rodgers completed 28-of-43 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns. He also tossed an interception after entering Sunday’s contest with 22 touchdown passes and no interceptions since Nov. 13.
But armed with the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL today, the Packers had confidence they were going to win this game.
"It is a great feeling to have that guy on your team,’’ Packers linebacker Julius Peppers said. "There hasn’t been one time that I have been part of this team that I have gone out on the field and didn’t think that I had a chance.
"That says a lot in itself as far as believing and trusting your team. We feel like we are going to win every game with him behind center.’’
The Cowboys certainly felt the wrath of Rodgers, who, again and again and again, kept rolling out and extending plays and giving the Cowboys one gigantic headache.
"He’s playing at a high level,’’ Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said. "He’s an unbelievable player.
"He’s one of the best to play his position ever, and you have to be on-point and you can’t give him anything. And in the first half we gave him too much.’’
The Cowboys also gave Rodgers too much on the next-to-last play of the game.