ARLINGTON, Texas — Cowboys fans have seen this movie before.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers specializes in playing a starring role at AT&T stadium. This one was different, however. There was no late-game drama needed.
"Well, let's start by complimenting their quarterback,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after his team was absolutely dominated in a 34-24 loss. “He didn't disappoint as far as what he is to compete against."
This game was all but decided in the first half when Rodgers was at his best. He was elusive, impactful, at times creating gridiron wizardry. Qualities the Cowboys know all too well.
"A lot of us on this team have a long history with that guy,” said defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford. "And if you let him get out and do his thing, that's when he has a great game."
Several Cowboys defenders echoed that sentiment, "Yeah, that's the name of the game when you have a mobile quarterback like him,” said cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. "Especially a guy who gets out the pocket to throw, not to run. We've just got to plaster and stay on our guy."
It wasn't that the Cowboys got zero pressure on Rodgers early in this game, just not enough to keep him in the pocket or get him on the ground when it really mattered.
"He's a hell of a player, and I mean it's an awesome challenge going against a guy like that,” said linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
It wasn’t as if Rodgers had a huge statistical game. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 238 yards, but he did not throw a touchdown pass.
It was his ability to keep drives alive early that paved the way for running back Aaron Jones to seal the Cowboys' fate.
Jones caused defenders to miss on several occasions en route to the first-ever four-touchdown performance by a running back against the Cowboys.
Jones rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries and racked up 75 receiving yards, as well.
"Poor performance by me,” lamented Vander Esch. "I got to make plays. I've got to make tackles, simply put.”
The young linebacker wasn’t alone. The Cowboys' run defense was gashed on several occasions. Defenders struggled to maintain gap integrity, and tackling was an issue, too.
"And if you're not all playing together, you're going to get hurt,” said linebacker Jaylon Smith. "Especially going against a team like the Packers."
It was such a horrible start for that Cowboys defense.
They didn't need help creating more struggles, but there was Aaron Rodgers doing what we've seen so many times before: making those magical plays to keep his perfect record intact at AT&T Stadium.
Rodgers now has a perfect 5 and 0 at AT&T Stadium, including a Super Bowl win over the Steelers. It may be trite, but it’s undeniable. His last name may not be Jones, but Rodgers owns the Cowboys.
So, the last thing you'd think you'd hear is Cowboys defenders welcoming this incredible challenge again.
But Smith had this parting thought.
"He's legendary. We understand that. We'll see him again."
Perhaps it all fits. In horror movies, the scariest villains always keep coming back.