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Game notes: Rudy Ford's two INTs lead way for Packers' new-look nickel

Game-winning kicks never get old for Mason Crosby

Green Bay Packers safety Rudy Ford returns his second interception during a 31-28 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Green Bay Packers safety Rudy Ford returns his second interception during a 31-28 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

GREEN BAY – Rudy Ford isn't the type of guy to take a victory lap after a career night.

So, his Packers teammates did it for him.

While the soft-spoken safety took a humble approach to his first career two-interception game, Green Bay's secondary loudly chanted "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" in the postgame locker room following Sunday's emotional 31-28 overtime win over Dallas.

That was good enough to draw a smile from the sixth-year veteran, whose back-to-back interceptions of Dak Prescott in the second quarter made him the first Packer with INTs on back-to-back possessions since safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at Chicago in 2016.

"That feels amazing," said Ford when asked about his warm reception in the locker room. "I'm just very thankful that I have great teammates."

Ford, a special-teams ace who's been serving as a sixth DB in the dime package, assumed a greater role in the secondary against the Cowboys with safety Darnell Savage moving to the slot in the nickel sub-package.

It was part of the series of changes in the Packers made in their secondary after starting cornerback Eric Stokes was placed on injured reserve with season-threatening knee and ankle injuries.

Patrolling the back end with Adrian Amos, Ford intercepted Prescott on consecutive series in the second quarter. Both came on third down, with the first occurring in the Packers' end zone on a goal-to-go situation.

Ford, who entered the game with just one career INT, returned both picks 34 yards and Green Bay's offense parlayed the two takeaways into two TD-producing drives.

The 14 points the Packers scored off takeaways in the second quarter actually matched their points of takeaways through the first nine games of the regular season combined.

"(It's) really fun. Just because like … Rudy, it's hard to get him to smile," Savage said. "So, after he got the interceptions, we're all in his face, we're grabbing him. Just to see him smiling and see him enjoying himself is just a really a good feeling."

It was a productive night for Savage, too. The fourth-year safety had a season-high eight tackles with a pass deflection, while a Savage blitz in the third quarter forced Prescott to step into a Kenny Clark sack.

Once the fourth quarter started, the Packers' defense locked in. Preston Smith pressured Prescott into an incompletion that preceded the Packers' game-tying drive.

When the game was on the line, the defense closed the door by forcing a three-and-out with under two minutes and then stopping the Cowboys at the Packers' 35-yard line in overtime.

The final defensive stand came on fourth-and-3, with veteran defensive lineman Jarran Reed registering a hit on Prescott to help bust an intended pass for running back Tony Pollard.

"It was just a great job by our rush and J-Reed made a huge play on that fourth down," Clark said. "We need that. We need key stops. We're all-in on every play. We understand the situation. We understand the magnitude of the season. We gotta make plays."

It was an admittedly difficult week for the Packers' defense. Along with Stokes, Green Bay also lost sack leader Rashan Gary for the season due to a knee injury he suffered in last week's loss in Detroit.

But as Sunday proved, the Packers' defense still has a lot of tricks up its sleeve and unheralded playmakers capable of rising to the challenge.

"We had plays all over the field, so it took all of us," Ford said. "It's very good to see different guys in different spots able to make plays. But it's always good just to continue to grow. It was good to see different teammates continue to make plays."

Slant and go: Once the Packers' offense got the ball in overtime, Allen Lazard and Mason Crosby combined to ensure they didn't give it back to the Cowboys.

On third-and-1, the veteran receiver took a slant pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a 36-yard gain to the Dallas' 20-yard line.

After Aaron Jones' 5-yard run turned into a longer pickup following a facemask penalty on Dante Fowler, Crosby drilled a game-winning 28-yard field goal to hand the Packers their first win since his game-winning 31-yard field goal in a 27-24 overtime triumph over New England last month.

"It's just amazing to be able to go finish it off there with a short field goal after kind of the back-and-forth and what a game like that is," Crosby said. "I can't say enough about my teammates and the guys that laid it out there the whole game and were able to get us in that position to go win it."

See scenes from the Sunday afternoon matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on Nov. 13, 2022.

Pounding the rock: Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon powered the run game to another 200-yard day on the ground, as the two running backs combined for 203 yards and a TD on 37 carries.

Jones' 24 carries were the second-most he's ever had in an NFL game. With 138 rushing yards, Jones registered his third game on the season with 130-plus rushing yards. That's tied for No. 1 in the NFL with Las Vegas' Josh Jacobs and the New York Giants' Saquon Barkley.

Dillon added another 65 rushing yards on his 13 carries, including a 17-yard run on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.

"I think we complemented each other very well," Jones said. "It wasn't just a drive here, drive there. We were rotating in and out pretty much every drive and I think that helped keep us fresh."

A tale of two kickers: With Crosby limited in practice this week with a back issue, the Packers chose to elevate Ramiz Ahmed from the practice squad to handle kickoffs.

It's the first time since 2006 Green Bay has had a kicker other than Crosby on the gameday roster. Three of Ahmed's six kickoffs were touchbacks, while Dallas averaged 21.7 yards on the three that were returned.

"It was kind of a joint decision," Crosby said. "My lower back (was) just a little tight, like nothing that was ever kind of like super serious. … I've been kicking for a long time, so try to get me a little bit of a break there. Ramiz came in and did a good job."


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