1:05 PM ET, January 11, 2015
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
A little more than 47 years after the "Ice Bowl," two of the NFL's most storied franchises meet in the playoffs at Lambeau for the first time since that historic contest Sunday in this NFC divisional-round matchup.
In a rematch of the 1966 NFL title game and played with kickoff temperature at minus-13 degrees and a minus-46 wind chill, Bart Starr scored on a 1-yard dive with 13 seconds left to give the Packers a 21-17 victory for the NFL championship Dec. 31, 1967.
Though temperatures are "only" expected to be in the low 20s on Sunday, comparisons to that 1967 contest are obvious. The Cowboys are even selling "Ice Bowl II" t-shirts on their official website.
"Guys like football and guys understand the history and tradition of the NFL and the Cowboys and Packers," said Dallas coach Jason Garrett, who was three months shy of his second birthday on New Year's Eve 1967. "It's an exciting game to be a part of."
While the Packers again have the home crowd and familiar elements in their favor, the Cowboys are confident the result will be different as they try for a fifth consecutive playoff victory over Green Bay. The teams are meeting in the postseason for the first time since the NFC championship game Jan. 14, 1996.
"It's all mental," Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "We've got to be mentally tough, which we are. Green Bay has to deal with it, too. You can never get use to 11-degree weather. I don't care who you are.
"(The "Ice Bowl" was a) legendary game and takes you back in history. Here it is, repeating itself again. And you've got a team that's ready for it."
Averaging a league-best 34.4 points while going 8-0 on the road this season, the Cowboys have reason to believe they can prevail even though the 12-4 Packers averaged an NFL-high 39.8 points while winning all eight home games. It's the first time in NFL playoff history a team that went 8-0 at home hosts one that was 8-0 on the road.
Green Bay has won the last three meetings, most recently 37-36 at Dallas on Dec. 15, 2013.
"(The Cowboys are) here for a reason," defensive back Micah Hyde told the Packers' official website. "It's going to be a huge game.
"We don't pay attention to them being 8-0 on the road because they haven't come here and beaten us here at Lambeau, but it's going to be a tough matchup and we understand that."
The Packers will face a Cowboys team that appears built to win in cold weather, boasting a bruising running game led by DeMarco Murray, who rushed for an NFL-high 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns. Though Murray was held to 75 yards on 19 carries last Sunday, he scored in a 24-20 wild-card win over Detroit.
He recorded 134 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts in the last matchup with Green Bay.
"It starts with their running game," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "This is the best test we've had. This will be a challenge."
With an improved run defense, Green Bay might be up to the task.
After allowing 153.5 rushing yards per game in the first eight, the Packers moved pass-rushing linebacker Clay Matthews inside and yielded an average of 86.4 on the ground while winning seven of the final eight contests.
Capers, however, knows the Cowboys have more offensive options than Murray.
Tony Romo, who attended high school approximately 150 miles south of Lambeau in Burlington, Wisconsin, has thrown 14 TDs and one INT while posting a 129.4 passer rating in the last five contests, including last week.
Romo recorded a league-best 121.8 rating while throwing 20 TDs and two picks on the road this season.
"I think people appreciate Tony as having the skills that he has," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after Romo recorded his first come-from-behind playoff victory last Sunday to improve to 2/3 in the postseason.
"I hope (critics) see that he's made some pretty impressive plays and had big games. The only thing that will ever get them off his back totally would be to get that Super Bowl win."
Romo, though, has completed 60.9 percent of his passes with a TD and an INT while being sacked eight times in losing both career postseason road games.
He's 1-1 at Lambeau, last playing there in 2009.
Dez Bryant has 20 receptions and two TDs in two games against Green Bay. He had 153 receiving yards in last season's meeting.
The Cowboys allowed 155 yards while falling behind 14-0 to the Lions last week, but held them to 242 the rest of the way. A good deal of controversy has surrounded Dallas' advance to the second round, as the club was aided by a late pass interference call that was overturned -- one of two controversial fourth-quarter calls that went in the Cowboys' favor.
Dallas likely can't afford to get behind early even though Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is nursing a calf injury that forced him to leave for a time in a 30-20 win over Detroit in the regular-season finale.
Rodgers, the MVP candidate who threw for 4,381 yards with 38 TDs and five INTs, said he's ready to go. He's led the Packers to a 75-14 first-quarter scoring margin over the past eight games.
"No, I'm going Sunday," Rodgers said. "Just a matter of how."
Rodgers returned to practice Thursday, and coach Mike McCarthy said his mobility "looked good."
Rodgers is 5-4 as a playoff starter and 1-2 while throwing for 715 yards, four TDs and one INT at Lambeau. He passed for 177 yards with a TD and was sacked four times in last season's 23-20 wild-card home loss to San Francisco.
He's thrown four touchdowns and no picks while winning his last two against the Cowboys, both at home, but was injured for last season's meeting and hasn't faced them since 2010.
Eddie Lacy, who ran for 1,139 yards and nine TDs, had 141 with a score on 21 carries at Dallas last season.
Jordy Nelson set career highs with 98 receptions and 1,519 yards in 2014 but hasn't recorded more than five or 61 yards in any of his four games against the Cowboys.
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Green Bay Packers
|Avg Points Allowed||13.0||21.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DAL|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DAL|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Green Bay leads 5-2|
|Dec 15, 2013||DAL 36, GB 37|
|Nov 7, 2010||DAL 7, @GB 45|
|Nov 15, 2009||DAL 7, @GB 17|
|Sep 21, 2008||DAL 27, @GB 16|
|Nov 29, 2007||DAL 37, GB 27|
|Oct 24, 2004||DAL 20, @GB 41|
Aaron Rodgers was in the shotgun or piston formation for 83.5 percent of his dropbacks this season, the 11th highest rate in the league. But his Total QBR of 92.2 when under center was by far the highest in the NFL.[+]
Aaron Rodgers This Season
The last time the Cowboys played in Green Bay was Week 9 of the 2010 season. The Packers won 45-7 and it would be the last game of the Wade Phillips era. Phillips was fired afterward and Jason Garrett coached his 1st game the following week.
During last weekend's Cowboys-Lions broadcast, Troy Aikman critiqued several times how the ball was coming out of Tony Romo's hand: He had a point - Romo had 7 underthrown incompletions in the game, his most underthrown passes in a game in his career. He failed to complete any of his 2 passes more than 20 yards downfield.
Current forecasts project a high of 20 degrees in Green Bay on Sunday. Tony Romo is 1-2 in his career when game-time temperatures are 32 degrees or lower with a 26.0 Total QBR. Only 3 QBs have started as many games in freezing temperatures and posted a lower Total QBR since Romo became the starter in 2006.[+]
Clay Matthews played 115 snaps at ILB during the 2nd half of the season (23 in 1st half of season) as the Packers allowed 67 rush yards less per game. The Packers allowed just 3.7 yards per rush with Matthews lined up at inside linebacker this season.[+]
Packers Rush Defense This Season
Aaron Rodgers started his playoff career by winning four of his first five games including a Super Bowl. Since then, Rodgers has won just one playoff game in four tries while his numbers have dropped as well.
Randall Cobb led the NFL with 75 receptions, 1,067 yards and 12 TD from the slot this season. The Cowboys defense allowed the 2nd most receptions (121) and the 6th most yards (1,355) to slot receivers this season.
From Elias: Eddie Lacy ended the season with 9 consecutive 100-yard scrimmage games. According to Elias, that is 4 games longer than any other single-season streak in Packers history.[+]
Longest Single-Season Streaks With 100 Scrimmage Yds - Packers History
The Packers host an NFC East team in the Divisional Playoffs after going 8-0 and averaging nearly 40 PPG at home. It all sounds a lot like 2011 when the Packers went 8-0 with 40 PPG at home and lost to an NFC East team in Green Bay.[+]
Packers at Home in Divisional Playoffs Since 2011
DeMarco Murray fumbled 5 times (all lost) in the Cowboys 1st 8 games, but has no fumbles in 240 touches in the Cowboys last 9 games (including playoffs). Murray's last 3 games were played after surgery on a broken left hand.[+]
Dez Bryant has caught 20 of 26 targets for 239 yards and 2 TD in 2 career games against the Packers. Bryant was targeted a career-high 17 times in Week 15 against the Packers last season.
The Cowboys are 2-4 this season when losing the TO battle and 11-0 when tying or winning the TO battle. The Packers tied for the fewest giveways (13) and led in TO margin (+14) this season.
The Cowboys have lost their last 6 road playoff games, with the last win coming against the 49ers in the 1992 NFC Championship Game. Only 3 teams have a longer active losing streak in road playoff games.[+]
Longest Active Losing Streaks - Road Playoff Games
Including playoffs, Aaron Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at home in his last 477 pass attempts. He's played 16 games since his last interception at home, throwing 38 Pass TD in that time.[+]
Aaron Rodgers Last 16 Home Games - Including Playoffs
The Cowboys went 8-0 on the road this season. The Packers went 8-0 at home this season. According to Elias, only once since the merger has an unbeaten home team hosted an unbeaten road team in the playoffs. In 1972 the Dolphins (7-0 on the road) defeated the Steelers (7-0 at home) 21-17 in the AFC Conference Championship game.
The Cowboys have played in Green Bay in the playoffs only once before: Dec. 31, 1967 in the "Ice Bowl". The Packers won 21-17 with a gametime temperature of -2 degrees and a wind chill of -23. Current forecasts project a high of 18 degrees next Sunday in Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers has 1 turnover on 21 snaps today. Rodgers had 1 turnover in his last 887 snaps at home dating back to Week 14 of 2012 (including playoffs).
That was Davante Adams' first Rec TD since Week 11. He also gained more yards on that play (46) than he had in his last 4 regular season games combined (29).
During the regular season and playoffs, teams ran 213 plays on 4th-and-2 or shorter. Romo's attempt to Dez Bryant was only the 3rd pass at least 25 yards downfield on 4th-and-short snaps (49ers converted in Week 12 vs Redskins, Broncos didn't in Week 9 vs Patriots).
The Cowboys blew an 8+ point lead in 2nd half for the 1st time this season. The Packers have the last 2 wins against Cowboys when coming back from 8+ point deficit in 2nd half (2013, Week 15).
ESPN Stats & Information