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Memory Lane: Cowboys turn the corner in Green Bay in 1991

The first time the Cowboys and the Packers faced one another on Oct. 6 was in 1991 at Milwaukee County Stadium.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Troy Aikman (8) hands the ball off to Emmit Smith (22), in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Jan. 16, 1994 in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)


The Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys meet for just the second time in series history on Oct. 6 when the two sides meet at AT&T Stadium Sunday at 3:25 p.m. CT.

The first time the Cowboys and the Packers faced one another on Oct. 6 was in 1991 at Milwaukee County Stadium, where the Packers played a portion of their home games from 1953-94.

Dallas was 3-2 coming into the match-up and were starting to get their legs under them as a young team. Though they lost 33-31 in Week 2 to Washington and then were shutout 24-0 at home to Philadelphia, the Cowboys bounced back with two straight wins: 17-9 at the Phoenix Cardinals and 21-16 over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants at home. Dallas needed a win to break the seesaw trend.

Meanwhile, the Packers just needed a win. Fourth-year coach Lindy Infante was having trouble building on the club's optimistic 10-6 finish from 1989. After a 6-10 season in 1990, the Packers were 1-4 out of the gate. They sustained two losses to the Eagles and Detroit Lions before edging the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15-13 at Lambeau Field for their first win. 

In the past two weeks, they lost close road games with a 16-13 loss at Miami and then a 23-21 loss at the Los Angeles Rams. Green Bay could use a win to lift their spirits before heading into the bye week.

If Green Bay wanted that lift, it would have to come from backup quarterback Blair Kiel, who was filling in for Don Majkowski. The former 1984 Buccaneers 11th-rounder was making his third career start at 30 years old. It went well for at least a quarter, but then Dallas safety Ray Horton picked off Kiel and returned the takeaway 65 yards to put the Cowboys up 7-0 after a Ken Willis extra point. 

On the ensuing Packers drive, Kiel did it again and chucked another interception to the Cowboys, with cornerback Issiac Holt the lucky recipient. The Cowboys went up 14-0 on the Packers as third year quarterback Troy Aikman hit tight end Jay Novacek for a 13-yard touchdown as part of his 11-catch, 121-yard performance.

Aikman now had thrown his seventh touchdown on the season. Through the first six games of 1990, Aikman tossed three touchdowns and nine interceptions. Maybe the switch from Dave Shula to former Rams receivers coach Norv Turner as offensive coordinator was paying off.

Green Bay chipped into the Cowboys' lead with a 42-yard field goal to make the score 14-3. Things would get dicey for Dallas as Packer receiver Charles Wilson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 82 yards for a touchdown. Now, if the Packers could hold it together and not give the Cowboys any free possessions, they might be able to stay within striking distance to overtake Dallas near the end.

Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith would win the NFL rushing title that season, in his second season, and the Packers game was one of his eight 100-yard rushing games from that season. The former 1990 first-round pick tallied 122 yards on 32 carries, and that was part of the difference the Cowboys had that the Packers lacked. Smith was able to help Dallas sustain drives and slowly put the game out of reach for the 1-4 Packers. Though Dallas would not score another touchdown, a 23-yard field goal from Willis in the third quarter and a 39-yarder in the fourth quarter were enough to give Dallas a 20-10 lead, melt clock, take the air out of the ball, and generate even more anxiety in the Packers offense.

Kiel would finish going 18-of-35 for 212 yards, a touchdown, and the aforementioned two picks. The Dallas pass rush dropped him twice as defensive ends Jim Jeffcoat and Tony Tolbert were able to take him down once each. Dallas produced 411 yards total offense to Green Bay's 259 and made 25 first downs to their 15.

Receiver Sterling Sharpe would add a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to trim the Cowboys' lead, but the game's final score was set at 20-17. The Cowboys were 4-2, found that win streak, and the Packers spiraled to 1-5 in their bye week.

This Sunday, both teams are 3-1, making it the fifth in series history that the two sides will have the same record ahead of the match-up. The Cowboys have prevailed all four times, and they are hoping to make it five in a row by Sunday night.

What are your fondest memories in the Cowboys vs Packers rivalry? Share ‘em with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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