The Green Bay Packers won the coin toss and wanted the ball. They knew something.
Not all playoff results change the entire landscape of the NFL, but the Packers' 48-32 win over the Cowboys seems like it will have ripple effects around the league for years. Love had a magnificent playoff debut, with a nearly perfect 157.2 passer rating, and he stamped himself as a quarterback to watch closely in the future, perhaps continuing Green Bay's unprecedented run of elite quarterback play. With the victory, Green Bay moves on to play the top-seeded San Francisco 49ers next week on the road.
The embarrassing blowout at home will have the Cowboys considering changes everywhere, including with head coach Mike McCarthy. In Sunday's game, the Packers tied a franchise record for points in a playoff game, and it was the first time the Cowboys had ever given up more than 38 points in a playoff game. A Cowboys defense that was very good in the regular season was a total no-show in the playoffs.
The Packers are the first No. 7 seed to win an NFL playoff game. That means the Cowboys are the first team to lose to a No. 7 seed in the playoffs.
The Packers took that opening kickoff and drove 75 yards for a touchdown. After that, the Cowboys pressed the entire game and never made it competitive. That led to a blowout win that we'll be talking about for months, maybe years.
Jordan Love starts hot
The Cowboys never looked comfortable on offense or defense. Meanwhile, the Packers looked like the team that expected to win.
Love was great from the first drive. He set the tone right away, standing in against the rush and delivering a big pass to Romeo Doubs as he got hit. That ignited the opening scoring drive.
— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2024
Love kept making plays while Dak Prescott made mistakes. Prescott had a 0.0 passer rating at the end of the first quarter. He threw an interception to Jaire Alexander deep in Dallas territory that led to a Packers touchdown. Then Prescott threw a crushing pick 6 late in the second quarter, when he didn't seem to see Packers safety Darnell Savage over the middle. Savage had an easy, 64-yard return for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead.
Love was in his first playoff start on the road against a very good defense, and he played like a superstar. He completed 13 of 16 for 185 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He made several key throws while staring down the Cowboys' rush. Prescott spent time getting MVP hype late in the season, but Love completely outplayed him when it mattered most on Sunday.
Cowboys' season ends abruptly
The Cowboys showed some life late in the first half. They scored on the final play before halftime. Dallas got the ball first in the second half and had a long drive, though it stalled, and the Cowboys settled for a field goal.
But coming back from a 27-point deficit in the NFL is close to impossible. Including regular season and postseason, only five times has an NFL team come back from 27 points down to win. After the Cowboys cut Green Bay's lead to 27-10, the Packers went on another easy drive, with Love making more big throws. Aaron Jones scored his third touchdown of the game for a 34-10 lead. That ended any realistic dreams of a Dallas comeback.
It just kept getting worse for the Cowboys. A penalty on a 2-point conversion led the Cowboys to settle for an extra point, and kicker Brandon Aubrey missed it. Then a defensive miscommunication led to Packers tight end Luke Musgrave being as open for a 38-yard touchdown as you'll ever see an NFL receiver.
Everything about the Cowboys was off on Sunday. Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, who were unstoppable in the regular season, were frequently not on the same page. The defense was awful, though Love deserves a lot of credit for carving up the Cowboys. As well as the Packers played, the Cowboys were that bad. There's a reason social media spent most of the game wondering when McCarthy would be fired.
The focus will be on what comes next in Dallas, but it was a big day for the Packers. They have a very young offense led by an emerging quarterback, and the win at Dallas legitimizes all the progress they made late in the season. No matter what happens next week at San Francisco, the Packers should feel good heading into the offseason.
On the other side, there are no good feelings for the Cowboys as they enter the offseason. They won't care about 12 regular-season wins or an NFC East title. All that will be remembered is a horrifying loss at home to the Packers. It's a loss that will have domino effects for a while to come.