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Game notes: Jaire Alexander toughs it out for Packers' defense

Romeo Doubs’ career day, Darnell Savage’s pick-six set tone for Green Bay

CB Corey Ballentine, CB Jaire Alexander and S Darnell Savage
CB Corey Ballentine, CB Jaire Alexander and S Darnell Savage

ARLINGTON, Texas – With the season on the line, Jaire Alexander wasn't about to miss this game.

While a true game-time decision due to an ankle injury he suffered during a Wednesday jog-through, Alexander practically lived in the Packers' training room this week in order to be ready for Sunday's NFC Wild Card game in Dallas.

And it's a good thing he did. The two-time All-Pro cornerback's first-quarter interception of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott served a crucial moment in the seventh-seeded Packers' 48-32 upending of No. 2 Dallas at AT&T Stadium.

Alexander's INT on a slant intended for receiver Brandin Cooks gave Green Bay's offense the ball at the Dallas 19. A few minutes later, Aaron Jones punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to stake the Packers to a 14-0 lead a minute in the second quarter.

When asked afterwards what his week was like in preparation for this game, Alexander provided the full rundown.

"All week. Probably about five hours (a day) in the training room," Alexander said. "It's a testament to also the training staff. Man, the training staff got me out there. They knew the importance of this game and I wanted to play so bad. So I was in treatment about 5-6 hours every day and then at night more treatment. So it's just a testament to God."

Injuries have unfortunately played a significant role in Alexander's sixth NFL season. He suffered a back injury in practice that hampered him early on before developing a shoulder injury against the Los Angeles Rams that sidelined him for a month.

It wasn't until last week that Alexander finally was able to be a full participant in practice. He chalked up his ankle injury to adversity and a personal challenge "to come out on top." Facing a dangerous Dallas team, Alexander's INT seemed to have a domino effect on the rest of Green Bay's defense.

Later in the half, safety Darnell Savage picked off Prescott and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown to give the Packers a commanding 27-0 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.

"Ja is elite. Ja is one of the best corners in this game," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "The story ain't changed with him. Every time he's out there, he's making an impact and helping our team get better. We love him. We love having him out there for the team."

Unfortunately, Alexander aggravated the ankle injury with a little more than five minutes left in the third quarter and did not return to the game. He said he was feeling OK afterwards, with Head Coach Matt LaFleur telling reporters at his postgame news conference that it will require additional treatment this week.

On Sunday, Alexander stepped up in a big way for a Green Bay defense that has played some of its best football during the final stretch of the season. While the win came first, Alexander acknowledged the INT was personally gratifying after a season filled with adversity.

"It was lit, honestly. There was no better feeling," Alexander said. "There's a few quarterbacks who've thrown me multiple picks in my career and Dak is now one of them. So he's among my top QBs."

Savage statement: Like Alexander, Savage has battled through a few injuries of his own to make it back on the field during the Packers' playoff run.

Coincidentally, Savage's pick-six off Prescott was his first interception since returning a 75-yard INT off Kirk Cousins for a touchdown in Green Bay's 41-17 win over Minnesota late last season.

The fifth-year safety said he took a little grief from teammates after the play because he didn't have an elaborate end-zone celebration, but Savage's focus was on making sure the Packers kept their foot on the pedal.

"We were all excited about it," said Savage, whose INT was one of six Green Bay passes defensed. "They can give me all the crap that they want to but they were thinking the same thing I was thinking – stay locked in. Because anything could happen in these games. Those guys are very talented, too, (but) anytime you score on defense, it's a tone-setter. Because it doesn't happen often."

Doubs' career day: Following the recent trend of Packers receivers stepping up in a major way, Romeo Doubs caught six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys.

The second-year receiver was responsible for four of Green Bay's five longest passing plays, including a career-long 46-yard reception in the third quarter that set up an Aaron Jones' 9-yard TD run.

"He made a lot of big-time plays," said rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks, who also had a 20-yard TD catch vs. Dallas. "Big-time plays, getting off his momentum to go down and score. We all knew what Rome could do. It's no surprise to us. It was just when his time came for him to keep getting the ball, he just did what he had to do with it."

Doubs, who was Green Bay's second-leading receiver in the regular season, injured his chest during last Sunday's win over Chicago but practiced all week. He put an exclamation point on the victory with a 3-yard TD on fourth-and-2 at the start of the fourth quarter for the Packers' final score.

"Just playing ball and knowing just spatial awareness," said Doubs of the play. "The play wasn't designed for me to score. I just did my part, and the play was extended and I was able to get space."

Check out photos from the NFC Wild Card playoff matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.