ARLINGTON, Texas – On Friday afternoon, all signs pointed to the groin injury Kevin King sustained a week ago against Philadelphia forcing the Packers' cornerback to the sideline for Sunday's meeting with the Dallas Cowboys.
By Saturday morning, however, King felt marked improvement to the point the third-year veteran tracked down the team's training staff to inform them of his condition.
"I was doing stuff and it kind of surprised me, because I didn't really feel (the strain) too much," King said. "I thought it was just kind of taking its course, getting a little better. Then I started revving it up a little bit more, a little bit more. … I woke up Saturday, thought it might be sore just from doing stuff and everything, (but) it was good."
Going from doubtful to questionable to playable, King came up big for the Packers' secondary in the team's 34-24 win over Dallas in front of 93,024 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
His biggest moment arrived with the Packers holding onto a two-touchdown lead with 10 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Working coverage of Michael Gallup on the opening play of the drive, King noticed how locked Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott appeared to be on the second-year receiver.
Prescott looked to hit Gallup on a deep curl but instead King darted in front of the ball for his second interception of the season.
Returning the ball to the Dallas 29, King set up an eventual Mason Crosby 38-yard field that restored a three-score lead. It also helped erase the bitter aftertaste of King not being able to haul in a would-be INT on second-and-3 in the third quarter.
"I really caught his eyes and saw it the whole way," King said. "Dak already kind of knew where he was throwing that ball. Because, if you watch the film, he definitely should not have thrown it – at all. Got to take advantage of stuff like that."
It was one of three takeaways the Packers' defense forced of Prescott. Jaire Alexander's interception of a pass thrown behind Amari Cooper led to Green Bay's first score, an Aaron Jones' 18-yard touchdown, in the first quarter.
Second-year cornerback Chandon Sullivan's first career pick in the second quarter halted a Dallas drive at the Green Bay 35 and preserved a first-half shutout for the Packers' defense.
As the Cowboys offense started to get rolling in the second half, all it took was King's key takeaway to give Green Bay enough cushion to ride out its second road win of the year. While King left the game due to a knee injury after the play, his teammates appreciated what he put on the line Sunday.
"His presence is amazing," Alexander said. "Like I said, I feel like we're the best tandem in the league. So for him to come out and get a pick like that, that's just great. Kevin prepared all week. Even though he was questionable or whatever, he came out and fought with us."
Toughing it out: Za'Darius and Preston Smith were back to pressuring the pocket on Sunday in combining for all three of the defense's sacks and six of its eight quarterback hits.
It wasn't easy, though. Za'Darius exited the game on three different occasions due to a knee issue. Trainers eventually fitted him for a brace, which kept sliding off late in the fourth quarter.
"This guy is a warrior, man. He has a warrior's mentality," said Preston of Za'Darius. "No matter how many times he may get sliced by the sword, he's going to fight."
Following last week's 34-27 loss to Philadelphia, former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis made a comment about a lack of leadership in the Packers' defensive front-seven. Za'Darius, a team captain, took those words to heart, going so far as to print out some of the criticism that was written and put them on the walls of the defensive meeting room.
"It's cool," Za'Darius said. "Just to have that comment come in; what we did was I told the guys it's more than being a leader on this defense. We're all going to have to be leaders at some point. To be able to do that we focused on that the whole week.
"So to have the motivation, man, it all worked out for us and we're 4-1. Four-and-one."
The Green Bay Packers traveled to Dallas to take on the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in a Week 5 matchup.