The History of the Cowboys-Packers Rivalry
By Peter Mann
The Road to the Super Bowl hits the Wild Card games this weekend and there’s an NFC classic on the schedule. The East champions Dallas Cowboys, welcome the North runners-up, Green Bay Packers, to the AT&T Stadium for what is game number 39 between the two franchises dating back to 1960.
These Two Go Way Back
Both have enjoyed a run of successes over the ensuing years, although the Cowboys did take a little time getting going. It’s the Packers that lead the way with an overall, 21-17 record, helped by their taking an early, 6-0 run in the series, throughout the sixties, which included a pair of playoff successes.
It would be 1970 before the Cowboys picked up their first successes in the rivalry, doing so on Thanksgiving, on what was the last meeting at the Cotton Bowl, as the Cowboys lifted the NFC title following a 16-3 win.
The Cowboys though would have to wait until the nineties before putting together a serious run of victories of their own, winning eight straight. Which included a trio of successive play-off victories; that run for the Cowboys would be part of eleven victories in thirteen meetings between the two.
Fast forward to the present day however and the pendulum has firmly swung back in favour of the Packers. Green Bay won nine of the last dozen meetings, including the last four, as well as another two playoff victories, with the last collision between the pair coming at Lambeau Field, in November 2022.
Before delving a little into the history between the two franchises, one which can’t be discussed without the bookends of 1967, a quick look at the last meeting between the Packers and the Cowboys would see the hosts claim a dramatic, 28-yard FG, 31-28 OT success.
Both bagged four TDs apiece in the mid-November match-up, the contest being so even that the scoring went toe-to-toe; a pointless first quarter was followed by both sides registering fourteen apiece at the half. The third quarter belonged to Dallas with fourteen unanswered points, before Green Bay levelled with fourteen unanswered of their own in the fourth, taking the clash to overtime, and the boot of Mason Crosby.
It was a contest that would see quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in a shoot-out only really separated by a little yardage. Rodgers posted 3 scores and 224 yards. Prescott 3 touchdowns and, 265-yards. Christian Watson and CeeDee Lamb also chipping in with a pair apiece.
Dallas opened the scoring in the second quarter of that 2022 meeting, Prescott releasing Lamb for the score from three yards out. Rodgers then hit Watson with a deep pass from 58 yards to the early level, and Aaron Jones moved the Packers in front shortly after. Prescott replied with another close score for Dalton Schultz from five yards to even the scores at fourteens.
Tony Pollard was next to hit the end zone for a thirteen-yard score in the third, and Prescott followed by hitting Lamb from thirty-five yards to extend the lead to 28-14.
However, the Packers were far from done though and, in the fourth, a brace tied the game up via the arm of Rodgers. Watson first from thirty-nine yards, then a close seven-yarder to force OT.
Mason Crosby afforded the Packers what was at the time just their fourth win (in ten) of the season when placing a twenty-eight-yard field goal through the posts for the win.
At the beginning of the rivalry between the two, the Packers were ruthless; not only did they knock up 45 points in each of the first two meetings, but that six-in-a-row would see them post an overall score of 186-92. Dallas twice being restricted to scoring less than ten points.
It would be the bookend clashes of 1967 though that stick out. The pair clashed in the NFL Championship Game on New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, of 1966 and 1967 respectively. Contests that would crown the Packers as the first, and second, Super Bowl winners.
With Vince Lombardi leading the Packers to success, and Tom Landry at the helm of the Cowboys, the two franchises were already producing hall-of-fame names, the former though being the one to continue his lucky streak.
The first of the two meetings in ’67 would see the Packers claim a battling, 34-27 success at the Cotton Bowl, in front of over 74,150 spectators. The victors’ quarterback, Bart Starr, took the MVP award, putting on four TDs for Elijah Pitts and Carroll Dale for the opening scores in the first and second quarters. He later hit Boyd Dowler in the third, and Max McGee in the fourth, Don Chandler with four successful kicks.
Green Bay’s other TD on that victorious outing came via Jim Grabowkski’s first-quarter, eighteen-yard fumble return that afforded them a 14-0 lead. The Cowboys registered three TDs of their own in an entertaining clash. The highlight being the final, 68-yard toss from Don Meredith to Franklin Clarke, whilst Danny Villanueva kicked two goals and had three successful conversions to his name.
Just shy of twelve months later, and in the last game of the following season, the two franchises collided again, this time at Lambeau Field, in front of nearly 51,000 fans in a game that became known as The Ice Bowl.
It was to be a much tighter affair the second time around, but it would also be the Packers’ fifth straight win over their rivals, this being a 21-17 game as, once again, Starr took home the MVP award.
He was more than a decent player Starr; a Green Bay Hall of Famer, two-time Super Bowl winner, four-time Pro Bowler, and five-time NFL champion. More came his way during the glorious sixties, although he somehow couldn’t turn his playing success, into coaching success. Having only had two winning seasons in his nine years at the helm of Green Bay between 1975 and 1983, reaching the post-season just once, in his second last as Head Coach.
As for Super Bowl II, the final game of ’67, a pointless third quarter shows that it could easily have been anyone’s title. Green Bay’s two seven-pointers in the first half kept them just in front as ‘Boys’ Dowler claimed two touchdowns from eight and forty-six yards respectively. Starr nipped in for a one-yarder; Dallas replying with a pair of TDs of their own, and a 21-yard FG from Villanueva.
As for it being labelled ‘The Ice Bowl,’ well it was certainly a chilly one, with game-time temperature said to be around minus 15F (-26C), and an average wind chill of minus 48F (-44C) – and here’s us in good ol’ Blightly complaining of a little cold…
It was so cold that the Marching Chiefs band set to perform the pre-game and half-time shows were actually unable to do anything due to their woodwind instruments freezing – it was that kind of atmosphere.
After the Ice Bowl - Into the 90s
The Ice Bowl was just as cold as the Cowboys’ record against the Packers, one that didn’t really begin swinging their way until their successful run in the nineties, one which would bear witness to three consecutive NFC Divisional game wins (1993-95).
All three of those were played at the Texas Stadium, in January of each season, the first win for the Cowboys there being a 27-17 success, the second a wider 35-9 win, and the third a high-scoring, 38-27 game.
That middle success for the Cowboys saw their then star quarterback, Troy Aikman, compete 16/21 passes for 2 TDs and 278 yards, whilst the opening score of the game would see the kick-off returned. A 51-yard drive resulted in Emmitt Smith crossing from five, before leaving shortly after with a hamstring injury.
Chris Jacke kicked a 50-yarder for Green Bay to keep them in the hunt before Aikman released Alvin Harper for a 94-yard TD reception, and Blair Thomas nipped in from close to widen the lead to eighteen points.
Although Edgar Bennett reduced the advantage with a close-range rushing TD, the Cowboys restored their advantage with further scores from Scott Galbraith, for a 28-9 half-time lead, and Thomas’s second of the game, in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with seventy rushing yards.
The Modern Era
The Cowboys’ last success of that streak was a 21-6 score, at Texas Stadium, in November 1996, and it’s been pretty much a downhill run ever since, their last win over the Packers coming a decade later, in October 2016 at Lambeau Field, a 30-16 success on their way to lifting the NFC East title.
Again it was a shoot-out between Prescott and Rodgers. The former took the plaudits with 18/27 pass completion, 3TDs, and 247 yards. Dallas scored in all four quarters, although the third saw just a field goal from Dan Bailey on the scorecard.
Green Bay, however, they were restricted to just three kicks from Mason Crosby and a fourth-quarter TD from Randall Cobb with a little under seven minutes remaining.
The Packers though would avenge that loss in the post-season, defeating the Cowboys, narrowly, 34-31 in the NFC Divisional Game, in front of more than 93,000 at the AT&T Stadium/ This was the first of four straight successes the Packers have put together in the last four meetings – 34-31 (2016), 35-31 (2017), 34-24 (2019), and a 31-28 OT last time out (2022).
This season however, with the Cowboys winning the NFC East following a decent, 12-5 regular season, Mike McCarthy’s franchise will be buoyed by coming off seven wins in their last nine, having picked up victory in their final two outings of the regular season. A narrow, 20-19 win at home to Detroit Lions, followed by a regular-season finale, 38-10, at Washington Commanders, Prescott completing 31/36 for 4TDs, 279-yards, and Lamb bagging 2TDs, 98-yards.
Green Bay meanwhile, finished second in the NFC North in what has been a tight, 9-8 season for Matt LaFleur and company. They go into the Wild Card weekend having won their last three outings, and six wins from their last eight, to move from a 6-8 to play-off contenders after wins over Carolina Panthers (33-30), Minnesota Vikings (33-10), and the season closing success at home to Chicago Bears (17-9).
Quarterback Jordan Love sent Lambeau Field into raptures when he, having posted 27/32 completed, 2 TDs, 316 yards, put them into the post-season with the same scenario as the previous season. This was helped by the boot of Anders Carlson, two conversions, and a game-winning, play-off sealing kick.
Now the two, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers collide again, for the 39th time since they first met in 1960. Both McCarthy and LeFleur will be hoping to go deep into the post-season, so expect a tough one on Sunday and to the victor, a clash with whoever emerges from the Rams– Lions encounter.
As a prediction, for all its worth, then it’s a stick-on for Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys here; it’ll be close though, and quite easily another encounter that sees 30+ points apiece, but the Cowboys, just…
PETER IS A LIFELONG SPORTS FAN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR BASED IN COUNTY DURHAM. HE HAS FOLLOWED THE NFL AND THE RAIDERS SINCE THE 1980s, AND LOVES BOTH SPORTS AND FAMILY HISTORY. PETER HAS A DEGREE IN SPORT & EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY, AND CAN BE FOUND ON TWITTER @petermannwriter