How do you level the playing field when you are a team from Texas going up to play a football game in January at the historic Lambeau Field, a place where the ground is frozen and the stands are full of fans who eat, sleep, and breathe the Green Bay Packers? You give their fans a reason to sadly stuff their faces with sausage and stale beer as they watch their team go down by 14 points in the first quarter, that’s how.
If the Dallas Cowboys hope to walk out of Green Bay, Wisconsin having just earned their first trip to the NFC Championship game in two decades, they will need to get off to a fast start and begin to put doubt in the minds of the Packers and their fans. As great as Aaron Rodgers has been at home this season, he only has a career playoff record of 1-2 at Lambeau; so maybe he’s not quite as unstoppable as advertised.
The best thing the Cowboys can do is establish their punishing identity early on by pounding the ball on the ground and dominating the line of scrimmage against a defense that’s ranked 23rd in the league against the run. They need to keep Rodgers and company off the field, while putting them in so deep of a hole that they are forced to abandon the run. If they can’t simply hand the ball off the Eddie Lacy and force Rodgers to throw on nearly every down, then the Cowboys can pin their ears back and pressure the now immobile quarterback into errant throws and possible turnovers. And keep in mind that this is a defense that is second in the league in forced turnovers with 31.
The one time Rodgers tested his calf against the Detroit Lions and tried to scramble the way he always does, he fell to the ground in so much pain that he thought his season was over. So the Cowboys would be well suited to constantly bring pressure up the middle to force Rodgers to either get rid of the ball quickly or to try and test out that injured calf again. I know it sounds harsh but that’s the game of football.
The key to everything for Dallas is to keep the ball on the ground, so that their defense doesn’t have to be on the field for long, and so that Tony Romo doesn’t have to get into a shootout. Rodgers doesn’t make many mistakes but if Romo is put into a do or die situation he has been known to try and force a throw or two down the field in an attempt to make a play to change momentum. So the Cowboys want to avoid this at all costs.
However if the Cowboys are able to get out to an early lead and stick to their game plan of dominating the time of possession battle, it could be a long day for the Green Bay and the Packer faithful.
Kelly Anderson is a blogger for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bgipp01 or add him to your network on Google.