Packers-Cowboys: A great NFL rivalry is renewed on Sunday
By BARRY WILNER
From Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry through Reggie White and Brett Favre, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.
From the tundra of Lambeau to the gap in the Texas Stadium roof to Jerry's palace.
Green Bay Packers vs. the Dallas Cowboys has been one of the NFL's most entertaining and meaningful rivalries for decades. Whether it was the Ice Bowl or Aaron Rodgers' impromptu pass to Jared Cook last January, people (and players and coaches) remember these matchups.
They're back at it on Sunday in Dallas.
"Ahhh, yeah," says Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who leads the league with five touchdown catches. "It's a good conversation, for the fans. There's a lot of history there. We've played them, I think in my 10 years, nine times or so, eight times. It's just some big games; big games and some incredible finishes. Hopefully, there's another one."
Their last matchup was a Packers 34-31 divisional playoff win in January when Rodgers completed a 35-yard pass to Cook on third-and-20 with three seconds left. That set up Mason Crosby's 51-yard field goal as time expired.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten recognizes why the Packers are so formidable, especially for Dallas.
"The entire organization, what they've built, starts with Aaron Rodgers and the way he plays," Witten says. "We have so much respect for their defense, Clay Matthews and the way they attack as a football team. They're a blueprint in a lot of ways, and more than anything they've played well at critical times throughout the last seven, eight, 10 years."
The Los Angeles Rams can establish their credentials against the boss of their NFC West division when the Seattle Seahawks visit.
The Rams' offense has been sizzling behind running back Todd Gurley and rapidly improving quarterback Jared Goff. Gurley is back in 2015 offensive rookie of the year form, gaining 215 yards from scrimmage in a win at Dallas last weekend. He has 596 yards rushing/receiving, the second-highest total in the NFL to Kansas City Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt.
The Seahawks also have come alive on offense, gaining 910 yards overall in losing at Tennessee and beating Indianapolis at home. But rookie sensation running back Chris Carson broke his leg and is on injured reserve.
Unless the Houston Texans lay an egg as they did against Jacksonville in their opener, they should provide a strong test for the Chiefs, the league's only unbeaten squad.
Kansas City has won 26 of its past 30 regular-season games, but never looked as good as now, with Andy Reid's offense humming behind Hunt and quarterback Alex Smith. Get this: The Chiefs have not committed a turnover since their first offensive play from scrimmage in Week 1, Hunt's fumble on his initial NFL carry. He's made up for it big time.
Houston has come on defensively even without J.J. Watt being the major force. Watt does not have a sack, but he has 4 1/2 sacks, a forced fumble and fumble return combined in his past three meetings with Kansas City. Besides, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has compensated with three sacks, a forced fumble and fumble return for a touchdown in the past two games combined.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton got himself in hot water off the field with his snide remark to a female reporter, hardly the kind of spotlight the Panthers need against the Detroit Lions.
These should be bright days in Charlotte after Newton won a franchise-record 54th game last week at the New England Patriots. Newton was 22 for 29 for 316 yards with three touchdowns, one interception, and he ran for a score to extend the NFL quarterback record with 50 rushing touchdowns.
The Lions would be unbeaten but for an officiating review that overruled a last-minute touchdown. They lead the league with 11 takeaways and seven interceptions. The Panthers have been intercepted five times, but they do have Julius Peppers back plaguing quarterbacks.
Week 5 began with New England beating Tampa Bay 19-14. Tom Brady threw for 303 yards and one touchdown, and New England's porous defense showed signs of improvement.
Updated October 6, 2017