Big wins in Big D: Packers looking to add to their list

Opposite histories for Green Bay at AT&T Stadium vs. Texas Stadium

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – One simple question. Can it continue?

The subject is the Packers' run of success at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, just outside Dallas. It's pretty remarkable when you think about it.

Not just the 4-0 record, but the magnitude of the games and the down-to-the-wire drama involved in every single one.

It's as though not just a Week 5 game, but the Packers' legacy in a particular venue, will be on the line Sunday against the Cowboys.

"We've had some great games over the years in that building," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "One I didn't even play in."

Let's recap.

Super Bowl XLV speaks for itself.

The Matt Flynn comeback game in 2013, which tied a franchise record for the largest deficit ever overcome to win (23 points, down 26-3 at halftime) kept the Packers in the playoff hunt and set the stage for the winner-take-all NFC North showdown in Chicago two weeks later.

Three years ago, the NFC Divisional playoff game was one for the ages. It required kicker Mason Crosby to hit a pair of field goals from 50-plus yards (three if you count the one on the timeout that failed to ice him) over the final minute and a half. It also featured one of the greatest throws of Rodgers' career, the sideline dart to tight end Jared Cook preceding the winning kick.

Then in 2017, Rodgers was at it again, not with any singular highlight-reel play but a precise, efficient and cold-blooded two-minute drive capped by a touchdown pass to Davante Adams in the waning moments.

There's really no way to top that list, only add to it, but that'll be tough enough against a 3-1 Dallas team that was riding high before getting shut down last Sunday in New Orleans.

Similarly, the Packers' fast start came to a screeching halt in a tough home loss to Philadelphia, so both teams are fighting to avoid a sudden losing streak after a strong beginning to 2019.

As for any effect prolonged success in a road venue has on the psyche of the players involved, veterans take it with a grain of salt. Whatever boost of confidence they may feel walking into a place that has provided good memories is tempered by the reality that every game is its own animal.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who made the last three trips to Dallas, calls it a "subconscious" element. They'll take any edge they can, but psychology doesn't win football games.

As Rodgers said this week, "It's different teams and different situations." Only 11 players on the current 53-man roster were with the Packers for the two most recent victories down there, and the numbers dwindle from there. Crosby is the only player who actually played in all four games.

"I don't know that it's necessarily about that stadium or anything," said center Corey Linsley, one of the aforementioned 11 from the 2016-17 visits. "It's not like there's some magic there for us. It's all in our preparation and everything. We're going to have to be ready and we're going to have to prepare."

The Packers have been preparing all week without three front-line players – Adams and running back Jamaal Williams have been ruled out. Cornerback Kevin King is doubtful. But the Packers have never really gone to Dallas healthy.

Injuries were a factor all throughout the Super Bowl season, and fittingly in the game itself. Rodgers was out in '13. Jordy Nelson missed the playoff game in '16. Bakhtiari didn't play in '17. So limitations are nothing new.

The Flynn miracle aside, realistically the whole key, of course, is Rodgers. In his three victories at AT&T Stadium, he's posted a more-than-solid passer rating of 108.7 (71-of-111, 880 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT) and, most importantly, made plays at crunch time.

"Some places you feel really comfortable," he said, going on to talk about all the "stimuli" in the building, such as the massive video boards hanging over the field and the players' walk through a fan club area from the locker room to the field, aspects no doubt designed to at least distract if not intimidate a visitor.

"When I think about that stadium over the years, we've had a great green-and-gold presence. It's been fun to hear the cheers as you leave the field after a win there."

One more for old times' sake? After nine straight losses at old Texas Stadium from 1993-2007, it doesn't seem too much to ask. Rodgers finished the last of the games in that losing streak in relief of an injured Brett Favre, nearly bringing Green Bay back from a large deficit.

In retrospect, that may have been a sign the Packers' destiny in Dallas was going to change. It certainly has, which brings us back to the one simple question.

Can it continue?

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