Maybe losing superstars Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin was the jolt the Dallas Cowboys needed.
Backup quarterback Jason Garrett showed the poise of Aikman, and safety George Teague helped the defense withstand a late-game charge by Brett Favre in a 27-13 victory over Green Bay today.
Playing without their big three for the first time since Nov. 5, 1989, the Cowboys (5-4) ended a two-game losing streak. They moved from third in the NFC East to a first-place tie with Washington and the New York Giants, both losers today.
"It's really a special day to win when three of the best players to ever play their positions in the NFL are standing on the sidelines in T-shirts and ballcaps," said Garrett, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
The Packers (4-5) lost their third straight and fourth in five games, and fell below .500 in the second half of a season for the first time since 1994. This was their eighth straight loss at Texas Stadium.
"If we're not mad, there's something wrong with this locker room," Packers wide receiver Antonio Freeman said.
Dallas had blown leads of 17, 14 and 10 points in losing three of its last four games, but it looked to be close to losing another after having led 20-3 with 10 minutes 40 seconds left. Favre shook off three quarters of missed opportunities--both by him and his wide receivers--to throw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman with 6:53 to go. Then Favre set up Ryan Longwell's 31-yard field goal with 1:21 to play to bring Green Bay to 20-13.
The Packers recovered the onside kick and moved to the Dallas 25 with 21 seconds left. But Teague intercepted Favre and coasted 95 yards for a touchdown.
"I know everyone expects us to be better. I expect us to be better and I expect myself to be better," Favre said. "But right now we're 4-5 and in a negative momentum swing."