Sunday 21 January 2018 / 12:06 AM


Another virtuoso performance from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the clutch field-goal kicking of Mason Crosby steered the Green Bay Packers into an NFC title showdown with the Atlanta Falcons next week.

Crosby nailed a 51-yard field goal on the buzzer to sink the Dallas Cowboys 34-31 at AT&T Stadium, ending the home side’s stellar campaign – and the franchise’s bid for its first Divisional Playoff win since the 1995 season.

The Packers led 21-3 midway through the second quarter after Ty Montgomery ran in back-to-back touchdowns, but the Cowboys narrowed the deficit to eight points at the half thanks to Dak Prescott’s TD pass for Dez Bryant and a Dan Bailey field goal from 33 yards.

Rodgers combined with Jared Cook for the only touchdown of the third quarter, and a seemingly unassailable 28-13 lead for the visitors, but Prescott produced two more touchdowns for Jason Witten and Bryant – plus a run for a two-point conversion after the latter – to level the scores with just 4:08 to play.

Crosby inched the Packers ahead again with a booming 56-yard field goal with 1:38 on the clock, before Bailey nullified that effort via a superb 52-yard field goal with 44 seconds remaining.

The playoff appeared destined for overtime after Rodgers was sacked on 1st and 10 on the Green Bay 32, before an incomplete pass to Cook on 2nd down. But Cook brilliantly kept a long Rodgers pass inside the field of play for a gain of 36 yards to set up a match-winning opportunity for the Packers’ field goal unit.

With the clock reading 0:03, Crosby buried it from 51 yards but Dallas had called a timeout just before the snap. The 32-year-old – in his 10th season at the Packers – regrouped and repeated the dose to eliminate the Cowboys in front of their home fans.

While his 318-pass interception free streak came to an end in the third quarter, Rodgers again proved the man for the big occasion. No.12 went 28/43 for 356 yards and two touchdowns, but his ability to find Cook in the dying seconds was the decisive moment of the match.

His rookie opponent Prescott had three touchdowns among 24/38 passing for 302 yards.

Rodgers will go head-to-head with in-form Falcons shot-caller Matt Ryan, who his gunning for his first Super Bowl appearance, in the NFC Championship game next weekend.

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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