Packers postgame, locker room reaction after playoff win over Cowboys
Columnist Pete Dougherty and host JR Radcliffe discuss the Packers’ huge win over the Dallas Cowboys in an NFC wild card game, plus player reaction.
ARLINGTON, Texas − Following are four bonus observations from the Green Bay Packers 48-32 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round of the playoffs Sunday:
Kingsley Enagbare’s injury ‘doesn’t look good for him’
The Packers sustained one potential season-ending injury Sunday, to backup outside linebacker Kingsley Enagbare. It’s unclear when Enagbare was injured, though it likely was late in the game. But after the game, he was on crutches in the locker room, and coach Matt LaFleur said Enagbare sustained what appears to be a serious injury, which generally means a season-ender.
“My heart hurts right now for J.J.,” LaFleur said, using Enagbare’s nickname. “It doesn’t look good for him. So it’s kind of bittersweet, any time you have a guy go out like that. It’s a tough thing to deal with, and just, with him in the locker room, and a lot of guys hurt for him right now.”
Enagbare had played 41% of the Packers defensive snaps this season and often played in tandem with first-round draft pick Lukas Van Ness as the other outside linebacker. With Enagbare out, undrafted rookie Brenton Cox Jr. is the next outside linebacker on the depth chart unless the Packers sign a veteran off the street. Cox has been active for only four games this season and has played only four snaps from scrimmage.
Matt LaFleur regrets his decision to sideline his starters late in game
LaFleur lamented taking a lot of his front-line players out of the game in the fourth quarter with the Packers up 48-16. Dallas scored a touchdown with 5 minutes, 54 seconds left with several backups on the field. Then the Packers went three-and-out with backup quarterback Sean Clifford, and Dallas got the ball back and scored again to pull within 48-32 with 3:25 left.
So LaFleur put Jordan Love and his starting offense back in the game and, when the Cowboys got the ball back with 2:22 left and needing two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions to tie, put his starting defense back in as well. The Packers finally clinched the game when Preston Smith sacked Dak Prescott and then Prescott’s end-zone shot on fourth down on the next play went incomplete with 16 seconds left.
“Hats off to Dallas, making it a game at the end of the game, and bad decision by me by pulling our guys and having to put them back in,” LaFleur said. “But luckily, defensively, (Smith) making that sack, that was critical and they bailed me out of the bad decision.”
Touchdown pass to Luke Musgrave was same play from opener against Chicago
Love’s 38-yard touchdown pass to uncovered tight end Luke Musgrave was the same play the Packers ran in the regular-season opener that went for a 37-yard gain against the Chicago Bears. The play features misdirection where Love bootlegs to one side of the field, then throws to Musgrave, who had run a deep crossing pattern to the other side of the field.
Against the Bears, Love bobbled the snap, which disrupted the timing of the play. But Musgrave still was wide open and made a jumping catch but then fell as he came down at the Bears 4-yard line, so he didn’t score. This time, he again was wide open and caught the ball along the sidelines at about the 14 and ran it in for the touchdown.
“It was a great play dialed up by Matt (LaFleur) to get him so wide open,” Love said. “I’m proud he was able to stay on his feet this time and score, unlike Chicago.”
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Matt LaFleur decides to start with the ball after winning coin toss
The Packers won the coin toss Sunday and, instead of deferring so they’d get the ball to start the second half, LaFleur took the ball to start the game in hopes the Packers could get an immediate lead. The Packers ran the ball eight times on that first possession on their way to a 75-yard touchdown drive that set the tone for the game.
“That’s the mindset,” Love said. “We’re trying to get the offense out there, start fast, go put up points and, like I said, just get to that fast start. That’s what we’ve been doing all season. That’s what’s been working for us, so we try to keep that rolling. I think it all starts with how we begin the game … start fast, put up points and put that pressure back on them.”
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