Pack­ers at Cow­boys

To get it, they’ll have to solve Pack­ers, Rodgers

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - SPORTS -

Dallas gets an­other shot at Green Bay af­ter last Jan­uary’s loss came in heart­break­ing fash­ion.

AR­LING­TON, Texas— Aaron Rodgers has ex­pe­ri­ence with what Dak Prescott is go­ing through in his sec­ond year as quar­ter­back of the Dallas Cow­boys.

It was last year, in fact, for Rodgers and the Green Bay Pack­ers — be­fore they beat the Cow­boys on the road in a di­vi­sional play­off on their play­mak­ing quar­ter­back’s im­prob­a­ble com­ple­tion that set up the win­ning field goal.

Green Bay re­bounded from a 4- 6 start to reach the NFC cham­pi­onship game, los­ing to At­lanta. This year, Prescott and the Cow­boys ( 2- 2) are just a loss shy of their to­tal from the re­mark­able de­buts of the reign­ing of­fen­sive rookie of the year and league rush­ing cham­pion Ezekiel El­liott.

To avoid match­ing the three losses from last year just five games into 2017, the Cow­boys will have to beat Rodgers and the Pack­ers ( 3- 1) on Sun­day on the same field where Rodgers’ long com­ple­tion to Jared Cook on third- and- 20 set up Ma­son Crosby’s 51- yard field goal as time ex­pired in Green Bay’s 34- 31 win in Jan­uary.

“That’s kind of the key for us is to stay fo­cused on our job and not kind of ride the roller coaster of emo­tions when things are go­ing great or when things are strug­gling a lit­tle bit,” Rodgers said. “Just trust­ing the process and that’s what we did last year at 4- 6, just know­ing we had the guys, we just needed to ex­e­cute a lit­tle bet­ter.”

Rodgers had his 16th game with at least four touch­downs and no in­ter­cep­tions since 2008 in a

35- 14 win over Chicago in Week 4.

Prescott had three TD passes in a 35- 30 loss to the Los An­ge­les Rams, but the fo­cus was on three straight punts to start the sec­ond half, fol­lowed by his third in­ter­cep­tion of the sea­son af­ter he threw four as a rookie. Plus, the Cow­boys couldn’t hold an 11- point lead in a game they were ex­pected to win.

“We are not tak­ing y’all’s in­put or fans in­put into per­spec­tive, what they are see­ing we are not do­ing,” Prescott said. “We know what we are do­ing when we are do­ing it the right way to click. So we know how to get back to that. Weare go­ing to do it.”

Here’s other things to con­sider in the sixth meet­ing over five sea­sons for these fre­quent play­off op­po­nents:

To­gether again?: The Pack­ers could be closer to get­ting their start­ing of­fen­sive line back on the field at the same time. Left tackle David Bakhtiari ( ham­string) and right tackle Bryan Bu­laga ( an­kle) have each missed time to in­juries, leav­ing Green Bay hav­ing to rely on a patch­work front in the win over Chicago. They played well, but the Pack­ers are at their best with Bakhtiari and Bu­laga.

Speak­ing of patch­work: The Cow­boys have had a shuf­fle of de­fen­sive play­ers, most re­cently with

All- Pro line­backer Sean Lee ( ham­string) miss­ing the LA game. Lee is likely to be a game- time de­ci­sion, but LB An­thony Hitchens should make his sea­son de­but af­ter a pre­sea­son knee in­jury. His re­turn could mean a ro­ta­tion with Jay­lon Smith, who played more than ex­pected the first four games of his ca­reer be­cause of the Hitchens in­jury.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers (right) and tight end Jared Cook, who’s nowwith the Raiders, hooked up mul­ti­ple times in Jan­uary’s di­vi­sional play­of­fvic­tory in Dallas. Rodgers found Cook on third-and-20 in the fourth quar­ter to set up Ma­son Crosby’s win­ning field goal.

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