Cowboys-Packers: Iconic Franchises That Have Battled Fiercely

The Dallas Cowboys invade Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers tomorrow looking to keep the momentum of a 4-1 record forged in large part by the contributions of raw rookies.  Maybe those young stars are just what Dallas needs to reverse a trend that has seen it drop nine of ten games the Cowboys have played at the Packers’ storied stadium.

The Cowboys-Packers rivalry has, over the years, been largely one-sided toward the home team. While the Packers are 9-1 at Lambeau Field against their Lone Star state rivals, the Cowboys dominated the Pack at Texas Stadium by an 11-2 mark which included three playoff losses for Green Bay.  Here’s a look at some of the interesting games and accomplishments between two teams who don’t play often but almost always produce excitement when they do.

THE CHAMPION HOLDS OFF THE CHALLENGER

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In 1966, the upstart Dallas Cowboys became a force in the NFL after six years of struggles.  Dallas finished with a 10-3-1 record and earned its first NFL Divisional title.  The Cowboys’ sterling record earned them a spot in the NFL Championship Game where’d they’d be matched up against reigning NFL champion Green Bay.

In the match-up at the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys and Packers played a game that has been forgotten over the years due to their rematch in the Ice Bowl in Green Bay one year later but was one of the more exciting playoff contests in NFL history in its own right.

The first quarter of the game provided a year’s worth of ups and downs in 1967’s first day, as Green Bay jumped out to a 14-0 lead only to see the Cowboys rally to tie the game at 14-14.  The game remained close until the fourth quarter, when two scores by the veteran Packers seemed to put the Cowboys in a hole they’d not be able to get out of as Dallas trailed 34-20.

Soon Dallas and quarterback Don Meredith proved that they were not done yet, as Dandy Don teamed up with Frank Clarke for a 68 yard touchdown pass that pulled Dallas within seven points of Green Bay, shocked the Packers’ defense and sent the partisan Cowboys’ crowd into a frenzy.  The tension only increased moments later, when Dallas got the ball back and drove deep into Green Bay territory. However a series of mishaps by the young Cowboys at the end of the game led to a Green Bay win, and it would be the Packers instead of the Cowboys who would be representing the NFL in Super Bowl I.

A TALE OF TWO HOLIDAYS

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The Cowboys and Packers have squared off twice in the annual Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas and while both games were entertaining, they were as different as turkey and cranberry sauce.

On Thanksgiving Day 1970, the Cowboys were in the midst of a run that would take the team from a 5-4 early November record to five straight wins, a NFL East title and their first Super Bowl berth. The Packers were a shell of their championship teams from the mid-60’s, and the Doomsday Defense made sure Dallas would have its first ever victory against the Packers.  Holding the Packers to a paltry 129 yards of offense, Dallas won 16-3 behind three Mike Clark field goals and a fourth quarter 13 yard touchdown run on a reverse by speedy Cowboys’ received Bob Hayes.

24 years later the teams squared off again on Thanksgiving Day, this time at Texas Stadium, in a game that is remembered among Cowboys’ fans as the “Jason Garrett Game”.  Standing in for injured first stringer Troy Aikman and his back-up Rodney Peete, Garrett led the Cowboys to a thrilling come-behind 42-31 victory that saw the Cowboys offense dominate the contest in the second half. Garrett threw for 311 yards and touchdowns to Alvin Harper and Michael Irvin, which helped offset Sterling Sharpe’s four touchdown catches for the Packers.

A PAIR OF ACES

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The 1978 Dallas Cowboys did not win the Super Bowl title as the 1977 Dallas team did, but they came close and only ended up in the loss column in the NFL title game due to a sterling performance against them by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The lack of a Super Bowl ring was a tough pill to swallow for the Cowboys, but it did not take away the fact that the 1978 Cowboys were one of the most talented teams in league history. Their abilities were on display in a big way on November 12th of the year as Dallas rolled over the Packers 42-14 at County Stadium in Milwaukee.

The highlight of the game for the Cowboys was the fact that two of their running backs, Tony Dorsett and Robert Newhouse, ended up with over 100 yards rushing with each scoring two touchdowns.  Dorsett’s 149 yards and his partner Newhouse’s 101 marked only the second time in Cowboys’ history to that point where they’d had a pair of 100 yard rushers in a game.  There’s been only one other such game since then (the first duo with 100 yards plus rushing each was Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison against Washington in 1972, and Emmitt Smith and Chris Warren joined the exclusive group in a 1998 game..also against Washington).

AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE

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Any NFL defensive back would likely consider an interception in a post-season game to be a highlight moment.  In a 1982 NFC Divisional Playoff game at Texas Stadium, Cowboys cornerback Dennis Thurman tripled his fun as his three picks off of Green Bay’s Lynn Dickey led Dallas to a 37-26 win.

Thurman’s thievery included a 39 interception return for a score that put Dallas up 20-7 going into the half.  The three interception effort is one of two such games in Cowboys’ post-season history.  In 1977 Charlie Waters had three interceptions in a playoff game, not against Green Bay but v.s. the Packs’ bitter rivals the Chicago Bears.

LUCKY SEVEN

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When an NFL team fails to score a touchdown in a game, chances are that team will be ending up in the loss column.  On November 18, 1996 at Texas Stadium the defending champion Cowboys did not reach the end zone but still beat the Green Bay Packers for the fifth straight time at home largely due to the efforts of the smallest man on the roster.

Chris Boniol set a Cowboys record and tied an NFL mark with seven field goals to lead Dallas to a 21-6 victory that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.  The accurate and reliable Boniol connected from 45, 37, 42, 45, 35, 39 and 28 yards to help offset the Cowboys’ inability to reach the end zone against a team that would go on to win its first Super Bowl crown in 29 years.  Boniol’s Cowboys’ record of seven field goals in a game would later be equaled by Billy Cundiff in a 2003 contest against the Giants.

THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

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On November 29, 2007 at Texas Stadium, a national television audience witnessed a match-up of 10-1 teams that was billed as the battle for NFC supremacy.  Both Dallas and Green Bay played well on offense but at the end of the day, the quarterback wearing the Cowboys’ star on his helmet was QB1.

Tony Romo threw for 309 yards and four scores, two to Patrick Crayton, as the Cowboys rolled to a 37-27 win.  Young Aaron Rogers replaced starter Brett Favre and was impressive with 201 yards passing and a touchdown pass in his first extended action behind center.  At the end of the year, both Dallas and Green Bay would be left on the outside looking in as each team suffered a home playoff game loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

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