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Green Bay Packers deliver crushing blow for Dallas Cowboys

  • By Jim Reineking NFL.com
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This is the backstory to one of the great moments of Week 15, the Green Bay Packers tying a franchise record with a come-from-behind victory after being 23 points down against the Dallas Cowboys. The Packers' dramatic win over the Dallas Cowboys, as well as the Baltimore Ravens' win over the Detroit Lions on a 61-yard field goal and the Arizona Cardinals' overtime victory over the Tennessee Titans, are nominees for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the week. Cast your vote for the GMC Never Say Never Moments of Week 15.

It was a shocking setback for America's so-called team, and the ripple effect of this game might be felt for weeks to come. The Cowboys stormed out to a 26-3 halftime lead against what appeared for 30 minutes of play to be a totally overmatched Packers team that was without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the sixth consecutive game. Instead, Green Bay emerged from the locker room following halftime a rejuvenated bunch and rallied in the second half for the biggest comeback in franchise history in a 37-36 win in the Cowboys' own ballpark. It was one of the most exciting finishes of the season, and the events that led up to the victorious moment for Green Bay will be discussed and debated for a long time.

Here are the key moments before the moment:

Cowboys build massive halftime lead

The play: Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray runs off right tackle for a 1-yard touchdown.

The aftermath: Just before the end of the first half, Murray's score put the Cowboys up 26-3 and Dallas was in complete control. Earlier, tight end Jason Witten scored on a 25-yard touchdown reception and kicker Dan Bailey connected on four field-goal attempts as the Cowboys built their seemingly insurmountable lead.

Lacy sets tone for second half

The play: Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy breaks free for a 60-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.

The aftermath: A Packers team that was dormant in the first half suddenly sprang to life in an instant, with Lacy setting the Packers up nicely for their first touchdown of the game. That score came three plays later, as quarterback Matt Flynn hit receiver Jordy Nelson for a 13-yard touchdown play that trimmed Dallas' lead to 26-10. It was an amazing play by Nelson, who snatched what could have been an interception away from Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick for the score.

Packers' comeback is nearly complete

The play: Running back James Starks catches a short pass from Flynn and goes 11 yards for a touchdown.

The aftermath: Starks' touchdown, coupled with tight end Andrew Quarless' score on the Packers' previous possession, cut the Cowboys' lead down to five at 29-24. With nearly 13 minutes still left to play, there was plenty of time for the Packers to complete the improbable comeback.

Cowboys strike back

The play: Quarterback Tony Romo finds receiver Dez Bryant in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown play.

The aftermath: It was an amazing scoring snag by Bryant, who somehow managed to catch the ball among a host of Packers defenders and get two feet down before momentum carried him out of bounds. With less than eight minutes left, the Cowboys were up 36-24 and perhaps had weathered the frantic second-half rally of the Packers.

Romo throws first of two costly interceptions

The play: Romo is intercepted by Packers cornerback Sam Shields.

The aftermath: After the Packers trimmed the Cowboys' lead to 36-31 on a 3-yard touchdown reception by James Jones, it appeared the Cowboys would be able to at least run out a good portion of the four minutes remaining on the clock. Instead, catastrophe struck for the home team. Romo opted for pass on a run-pass option play. So rather than give the ball to Murray -- who had averaged 7.4 yards per rush on Sunday -- Romo chose to pass, and on the second-and-6 play he was picked off by Shields and the Packers regained possession at the Cowboys' 45-yard line.

Lacy puts the Pack on top

The play: With massive defensive linemen Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji lined up at fullback, Lacy burst through for a 1-yard touchdown dive for the go-ahead score.

The aftermath: Lacy put an exclamation point on the score with an emphatic spike of the football. The comeback was complete and the Packers led 37-36. A two-point conversion try failed, so all the Cowboys needed was a field goal to win. There was plenty of time for Romo and the Dallas offense to pull if off, too, as there was a minute and a half left on the game clock.

The moment

The play: Romo throws the second of two costly interceptions. This one to Tramon Williams on a play that was initially ruled incomplete but then reversed following an instant-replay review.

The aftermath: A most implausible rally by the Packers in a frenzied second half was complete. As Green Bay maintained hope in its quest to reach the playoffs, Dallas missed out on a grand opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East. While the Cowboys were left with goats in the epic collapse, the Packers' Flynn achieved hero status in what has been a roller-coaster 2013 for the quarterback.

Flynn led five consecutive touchdown drives as the Packers mounted their emotional comeback. The rally from 23 points down tied a franchise record, and the win in Dallas was the first for the Packers since 1989. Flynn's heroics helped him join Packers legends Lynn Dickey (who led that 23-point comeback back in 1982) and Don Majkowski (responsible for that 1989 win) in the pantheon of Packers passers.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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