ARLINGTON, Texas — There will come a day when Aaron Rodgers won’t wander into AT&T Stadium and turn water into wine and the Cowboys into patsies.
But that day wasn’t Sunday.
However, he also had help.
Plenty of help.
And that came as something of a surprise since Rodgers was without his main weapon, wide receiver Davante Adams. In his place, the Green Bay quarterback was throwing to a fifth-round draft choice Marquez Valdes-Scantling and three other free agents.
In truth, it was more the speedy Aaron Jones than the rocket-armed Rodgers who victimized the Cowboys, becoming the first opposing running back to reach the end zone four times against a Dallas team while Rodgers threw for just 238 yards but without an interception.
Jones ran through gaping holes for his 107 yards all day long — he also had seven catches for 75 yards — and punished the Cowboys time and again as Dallas worked from behind all afternoon, trailing 31-3 late in the third quarter.
So now Dallas has an extra ghost to deal with every time the Green Bay Packers lurk into Jerry Jones’ palace, as if combating Rodgers wasn’t treacherous enough.
The two-time league MVP was a perfect 3-0 in this stadium and even won a Super Bowl here. Dallas never won anything more valuable than a wild-card game in its own digs.
But then, Rodgers and Jones treated AT&T Stadium like Lambeau South and, despite some lapses that momentarily gave Dallas hope, put away the Cowboys 34-24, Dallas’ second straight loss.
Sunday’s defeat significantly stalls Dallas’ early momentum and calls into serious question the notion that the Cowboys are the class of the NFC and could easily cruise to the NFC East title. Once sitting atop the division all alone, they’re now 3-2 and have dropped consecutive games to division leaders, the Saints without New Orleans star quarterback and the Packers without their star receiver.
They lost to New Orleans 12-10 and had no offense.
They lost to Green Bay 34-24 Sunday and had no defense.
And their kicker didn’t help any, missing two field goals, including a pedestrian 33-yarder in the final minute of Dallas’ desperation.
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“Those were two challenging games,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We didn’t get it done. We committed three turnovers, and we didn’t stop the run.”
Prescott, with one of his worst performances as a Cowboy despite passing for 463 yards in catch-up mode, threw three interceptions.
Maybe Dallas’ plum start was not all of its own making. The Cowboys were beating up on the likes of Eli Manning, Case Keenum and Josh Rosen to start out 3-0, and then fell to Teddy Bridgewater, whose shelf is still void of an MVP award. Rodgers is a whole different challenge.
So Dallas lost its second straight game, first to the Saints when the Cowboys couldn’t run the ball and Sunday to the Packers when they couldn’t really do anything, at least for almost three quarters until Prescott got it going with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
By game’s end, Cooper was more than the equivalent of Jones; the fifth-year receiver out of Alabama turned Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander inside out. He caught 11 balls for a career-best 226 yards to set a single-game franchise record.
Still, this had to qualify as one of the quirkiest games you’d ever want to see with all manner of freaky adventures.
The Packers were once called for roughing the passer, and Prescott wasn’t even passing. He ran on the play.
An angry Garrett was so livid over the turn of events that he spiked his red challenge flag like a football and then was whistled for bad behavior by the side judge. “I guess he didn’t like the way I threw the flag,” he said.
And the final salt in the wound came when Dallas’ Brett Maher botched a routine, 33-yard field that would have made it a one-score game with a pending onside kick. “He’s made a lot of big kicks for us in the past,” Garrett said.
The Cowboys were their own worst enemy for the first three quarters and with the way Rodgers and Jones were playing, they didn’t need any extra ones.
There was good news and bad news for safety Darnell Savage. Tests on Monday showed no structural damage to his left ankle, but it’s considered a high ankle sprain, a source told ESPN.
Center Corey Linsley’s consecutive snaps streak officially ended at 2,768 when he left Sunday’s game after 19 plays because of a concussion. The last time he missed a snap was Week 15 of 2016 when he came out for 1 play because his shoe came off.
The Washington Redskins fired head coach Jay Gruden after starting his sixth season wit the team 0-5.
The Redskins went 35-49-1 overall under Gruden with one playoff appearance in the 2015 season. A popular coach among players and a smart offensive mind, Gruden struggled in preparing his teams: Washington went 1-5 in season openers and lost a win-and-get-in game in Week 17 in 2016 against the New York Giants, who had nothing to play for.
Tom Oates is a columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.