Cowboys Run Over the Packers

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 22, 2008

GREEN BAY, Wis., Sept. 21 -- The Dallas Cowboys put aside their flashy passing offense for most of the evening but used some rugged play Sunday night at Lambeau Field to make an early case for NFC supremacy.

They got touchdown runs by tailbacks Felix Jones and Marion Barber and surrendered only field goals on defense while it still mattered to beat the Green Bay Packers with surprising ease, 27-16.

"It's good to know you can win when you have to grind it out sometimes," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "Tonight was one of those nights."

The Cowboys improved their record to 3-0. They are tied with the New York Giants atop the NFC East, and they and the Giants are the conference's only unbeaten clubs. But while the Giants struggled at home earlier Sunday to beat the lowly Cincinnati Bengals in overtime, the Cowboys went on the road and got a convincing victory against a previously undefeated opponent.

Barber and Jones did the heavy lifting as the Cowboys used a back-to-the-basics approach. Jones had a long touchdown run in the first half and Barber had a short one in the second half, and the Cowboys were most effective when they stuck to running the ball. Barber rushed for 142 yards and Jones added 76 more.

The Cowboys might have scored more points but Romo threw one interception in the end zone and they ended two other drives with field goals. Romo did pile up some decent numbers in the late going and applied the finishing touches, putting the game out of reach with a 52-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Miles Austin with just more than nine minutes to play.

Austin also had a 63-yard reception to set up a touchdown, but otherwise it was a quiet night for Romo and the Cowboys' passing game while the outcome was still in doubt. Wide receiver Terrell Owens wasn't much of a factor in the game, with two catches for 17 yards.

That was more than enough, however, because the Packers could sustain little offensively and suffered their first loss in three games since Aaron Rodgers took over for the departed Brett Favre as their starting quarterback.

"It's disappointing," Rodgers said. "You'd like to win them all obviously. But Dallas is a good football team and we unfortunately didn't play our best tonight."

Rodgers wasn't as sharp as he'd been in Green Bay's first two games and the Packers, until a cosmetic late touchdown on a one-yard sneak by Rodgers, could produce only three field goals.

"We held them without a touchdown until that last drive," Cowboys Coach Wade Phillips said. "I thought it was pretty outstanding."

It was the Cowboys' first victory ever at Lambeau Field, having gone 0-5 previously. Romo was playing a homecoming game of sorts, having grown up in Burlington, Wis. He and the Cowboys had their chances in the game's early going but initially couldn't cash in.

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