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Cowboys present stiff challenge for Packers defense

Dom Capers hopes his unit can play even better


GREEN BAY—The Dallas Cowboys bring some impressive offensive rankings into Sunday's divisional-round playoff game at Lambeau Field.

At the heart of the Cowboys offense is the league's No. 2 rushing attack and rushing champion, DeMarco Murray. Quarterback Tony Romo is having a career year, sitting one passer rating point ahead of Aaron Rodgers to claim the league passer rating title. The Cowboys are No. 4 in yards per play and No. 2 in third down efficiency.

"We have a healthy respect for their offense. The statistics they've put up, there's a reason why. They've got a very good combination of experience and youth on offense," Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said.

Capers and his defense are confronted by a daunting challenge. Aaron Rodgers' calf injury has also trained more pressure on the Packers defense to carry more of the burden.

"Everything starts with DeMarco Murray, their ability to run the ball. He's their third-leading receiver behind Bryant and Witten. They've made a big investment in their offensive line over the last few years, and it's paying dividends for them. They're very athletic in the offensive line, and they've made a commitment to running the ball. That bodes well for any offense at this time of year. It opens up a lot of avenues for them," Capers said of the challenges his defense faces.

The greatest challenge the Cowboys pose would seem to be their balance between run and pass.

"You can't really zero in on one area, because if you do that too much, they'll hurt you in another area," Capers said. "They've been putting together this offense for a while, and it's probably peaking this year. They're certainly one of the top two or three in the league.

"In the past around here, there have been some times we've kind of limped into the playoffs a little bit. I feel good about our health and I feel the arrow is pointing up for our defense. What I'm hoping is we haven't played our best yet," Capers added.

The Packers offense will be up against a Dallas defense that ranks high against the run, but sits near the bottom of the league in pass defense.

"I just know they're playing very well. They play hard. They're well-coached. They're where they're supposed to be and they finish plays. It's going to be a challenge for us," Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said.

Packers Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum offered this scouting report on the Cowboys special teams: "They're good, very solid, well-coached, play hard. They've got an excellent returner in Dwayne Harris. They're physical. It'll be a challenge.

"Schematics are important, but at the same time it's about individual players winning one-on-one battles," Slocum added.

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