ARLINGTON, Texas — The moment Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal split the uprights, knifing the Cowboys faithful right through the heart, the press box erupted.

They shouted. They banged the table. They smacked palms. Who cares that the PA announcer had declared 10 minutes earlier that there’s no cheering in the press box? General manager Ted Thompson’s army of personnel men, seated in the second row, needed to celebrate this pulsating 34-31 win over the Cowboys.

And each person flanking Thompson deserves a raise, a promotion and at least a pound of cheese curds for piecing together a masterpiece.

No question, Aaron Rodgers further cemented his legacy at AT&T Stadium. His flick of the wrist on 3rd-and-20—rolling left, under duress, legs dancing and eyes likely blindfolded by the time we tell our grandkids about this throw—was his Michael Jordan-in-Game 6 moment. But he isn’t the only one who deserves credit.

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This is a Packers offense besieged by injury. There’s Jordy Nelson and his broken ribs in street clothes. There’s Randall Cobb finally healthy after an injury-plagued season. Eddie Lacy, the No. 1 back, is out. James Starks, the No. 2 back, is out. Davante Adams rolled his ankle and now won’t even practice until the day before the NFC Championship Game.

These are injuries that nuke seasons.

They should have nuked the 2016 Packers’. Instead, Green Bay is traveling to Atlanta with a Super Bowl ticket on the line and an offense that has become a Bay of Misfit Toys.

But here’s the revelation from Arlington: Those misfits made Dallas pay.

First, Aaron Rodgers threaded a 34-yard touchdown through the arms of Sean Lee to…Richard Rodgers.

Go ahead and Google search that name. Richard Rodgers ran a 4.87 at the combine.

Drive Nos. 2 and 3 were both punctuated with touchdown runs from…Ty Montgomery. This receiver-turned-running back spun the ball atop the “O” in “Cowboys” after his second score as 36 family members and friends roared somewhere in attendance.

Yes, that’s a No. 88 at running back.

Setting up that touchdown, of course, was fullback Aaron Ripkowski, barreling ahead for 20 yards and then teeing off on a linebacker at the goal line.

Ole ‘Rip’ was a lineman in high school (really) and carried the ball six times in four years at Oklahoma.

Aaron Rodgers looks left, scrambles right and a wide receiver somehow stays on his same page the entire time, reversing direction mid-play to find a sweet spot in the Cowboys secondary and corral a pass for a 26-yard gain. That receiver? None other than Geronimo Allison.


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And with the game on the line, a player released by the Rams somehow held a Michael Jackson pose along the sideline to set up Crosby’s heroics.

Released by the Rams.

“Words can’t describe it,” Jared Cook says. “It took me eight years to get to this point.”

These are the loose parts fueling an improbable run toward the Super Bowl.

Both the 1996 and 2010 Green Bay Super Bowl teams were slammed with injuries. And, from afar, Antonio Freeman absolutely sees the parallels to his ’96 group.

Whenever one player went down, another stepped up.

“I can definitely compare our Super Bowl team to this football team,” the former Packers receiver says, “because we had floating pieces.

“Not only are they deep, but they’re prepared when their numbers are called. That’s a great credit to the scouting department and the Green Bay Packers. You take Antonio Brown out of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ situation, you take Doug Baldwin out of the Seattle Seahawks’ situation, you take Dez [Bryant]…a lot of teams can’t overcome that. But because guys are prepared and, no doubt, you’ve got No. 12 back there, those are the difference-makers.”

So where did these players come from? The streets of Tampa, a weight room in Texas, on a basketball court in Georgia, with 17 foster siblings in Dallas…

All over.

Before the Packers discovered these gems, others did.

Long before Aaron Ripkowski resembled a castaway with a football in one hand and a blood-faced “Wilson” in the other, he must have been a high school legend.

Surely this beast in the beard ravaged defenses 20, 30, 40 carries at a time.


Wrong. His high school tape was as uninspiring as it gets. At Dayton (Texas) High School, Ripkowski played right guard, while dabbling in some linebacker and defensive line. Go ahead and watch his four-minute, 37-second “highlight reel” on YouTube, but pound a venti coffee first.

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