GREEN BAY, Wis–It’s a rivalry with three distinct eras and one that has Hall of Famers from each franchise on both sides of the football. The Packers and Cowboys were benefactors of each other’s fame playing in epic games, that have created legends on the field. Green Bay leads the regular-season series with Dallas, 15-13, with each of them winning four games in the playoffs. But recently the winning tide has swung back in the Packers favor with Green Bay taking seven of the last eight contests, including that memorable playoff victory in January of 2017, which was the last time the Packers had a winning season.
You have to go all the way back to 1960 to find the first time the Packers played the Cowboys when Dallas became the NFL’s first modern-era expansion team. The Cowboys played at the Cotton Bowl and shared their stadium with the Dallas Texans which eventually became the Kansas City Chiefs franchise, and they began playing in the AFL that same year. Vince Lombardi was in his second season in Green Bay when the Cowboys finished their inaugural season last in the NFL with a record of 0-11-1. The Packers crushed the Cowboys 41-7, but Dallas was undermanned from the start since they weren’t even awarded the franchise until after the 1960 college draft had been held. Dallas was the only new franchise in the NFL which went from 12 teams to 13, and they became the first expansion team without the benefit of a college draft. The Lombardi era Packers beat the Cowboys five straight times with two of those coming in the NFC Championship game en route to victories in the first two Super Bowls. In 1966, Green Bay went on the road and beat Dallas in a shootout 34-27, and of course, 1967 provided football fans with the “Ice Bowl”. Even Phil Bengston’s 1968 team went to Texas and came out with a victory. But from there they became two franchises going in opposite directions. The Packers would have just 5 winning seasons over the next 24 years, while Tom Landry was building his team into one of best in the NFL. For two straight decades, the Cowboys had a winning record with 18 playoff appearances, 5 trips to the Super Bowl, while bringing the Lombardi trophy back to Dallas twice.
In a scheduling quirk, the Packers beat the Cowboys twice during the regular season in 1989, which was Lindy Infante’s only winning season, but after that it was all Dallas again. The Cowboys dominated Green Bay throughout the 1990’s winning 8 straight games including three straight in the postseason, and all but one of those losses were on the road with the lone other contest taking place in Milwaukee. The rivalry went back and forth a bit and the first real glimpse of Aaron Rodgers on the big stage took place in 2007 on Thursday night football the week after Thanksgiving. The Packers and Cowboys entered the contest with identical 10-1 records in what was Brett Favre’s final season with Green Bay. Favre left the game with an arm injury after throwing an interception early in the second quarter with his team down 27-10, and Rodgers rallied the Packers to a pair of touchdown drives cutting the deficit to 27-24. Dallas went on to win the game 37-27, but Rodgers showed the potential with an 18 for 26, 201 yards, & 1 TD. And that momentum has carried forward through today. Rodgers and his teammates have owned the past decade taking 7 out of the last 8 contests with a few of them being heartbreakers for Cowboys fans.
There was the “non-catch” when Dez Bryant appeared to make a catch at the goal line of their 2014 playoff matchup. Instead of setting up the Cowboys at the 1-yard line, Green Bay took over on downs and ran out the clock for the win. The call started the debate regarding the league’s catch rules and is still being disputed today. Then there was the 2016 playoff game on the road where Green Bay was in control of the contest until the 4th quarter. The Packers had built a 28-13 lead but the Cowboys stormed back to tie it 31-31 with 35 seconds left. Rodgers made an amazing 36-yard throw to Jared Cook with 12 seconds to go and Mason Crosby booted a 51-yard walk-off winning FG. And finally, there is the 2017 contest where Dallas came back to take the lead with just over a minute left in the game. Rodgers then led Green Bay on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 12-yard touchdown toss to Davante Adams. That was two years ago in week 5 and Green Bay started that season 4-1 before losing Rodgers to a collarbone injury against the Vikings.
Sunday’s game will be the 37th overall meeting between the Packers and Cowboys. Rodgers has started eight times against the Cowboys and the Packers have won six of those games. Let’s hope that trend continues, even though Adams won’t be there for another walk-off winner.