Packers Replay: January clash with Cowboys was instant classic

There have been many memorable battles over the year between the Packers and Cowboys. Last January's divisional playoff in Arlington, Texas may not have decided a championship, but it will still go down among the annals of playoff classics between these hallmark NFL franchises.

On January 15, 2017, the Cowboys owned home field advantage in the NFL playoffs, but the Green Bay Packers owned a seven game winning streak and were arguably the NFL's hottest team at that time.

After the Cowboys struck first with a field goal, the Packers struck next - three straight times, all three reaching the end zone.

A 34-yard rifle pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers and a pair of Ty Montgomery scoring runs of three and one yards gave Green Bay a seemingly insurmountable 21-3 lead.

Insurmountable, unless you were facing the Cowboys with an injury-riddled defense.

Dallas, with two rookie of the year candidates and a world-class wide receiver on their roster, had the 5th best scoring offense in football. They were facing a Packers defense that had given up at least 24 points in their last three regular season games. 

Dallas responded to cut Green Bay's lead to one score before the half with a pass from Dak Prescott to Dez Bryant and a Dan Bailey field goal before halftime.

Aaron Rodgers had one of his best days in the playoffs, throwing for 355 yards. His touchdown to Jared Cook in the third quarter would expand Green Bay's lead, but it would not be the biggest throw he would make to Cook.

But another throw from Rodgers proved problematic - an interception by Jeff Heath that would would open the floodgates and give Dallas plenty of time to tie the game, which they did.

Scoring passes to Jason Witten and Dez Bryant deadlocked the game at 28.

The touchdown to Dez Bryant was the first of four scores in the final four minutes and seven seconds of the game.

A back-and-forth drama that placed this contest among some of the most riveting in recent playoff history. With 1:33 left, Mason Crosby dialed very long distance - 56 yards - to give Green Bay the lead.

The Cowboys' Dan Bailey responded 58 seconds later - a 52 yard field goal that tied the game again at 31.

With just three seconds left, Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook delivered what could be called "the throw and the tip-toe."

Rodgers took the snap, spinned, rolled to his left, set his feet, sprinted to his left again to avoid a pass rusher and, while on the run, delivered the football 37 yards along the sideline to where an open Jared Cook was waiting.

Cook placed his toes on the green rubber of the artificial turf of AT&T Stadium, reached into out-of-bounds territory, and corralled the football into his chest before his knees touched the ground on the white out of bounds marker.

It wasn't until instant replay was shown in the stadium and worldwide that it was clear that Rodgers' rocket-armed delivery was caught, inbounds by the smallest of margins, mere inches. 

That set up Mason Crosby for a field goal to end a playoff game for the ages.

His 51 yard field goal sliced about a foot inside the left upright as the clock struck zero, with yards to spare.

Perhaps because of the outcome the next week for Green Bay, this 34-31 Packers triumph won't get the recognition it deserves as an all-time playoff classic.

But for scintillating action and a rousing finish constructed by perfect execution at the most critical moment, it's hard to find a better game than this in Packers history.

Click here to review the game as it happened from WTMJ's Second Screen coverage.

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