GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A .500 record slipped away from the Dallas Cowboys on a rainy night at Lambeau Field.
Their chances in the mediocre NFC East took a hit, too.
Matt Cassel struggled to just 114 yards passing and Dallas surrendered 230 yards on the ground in a 28-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Eddie Lacy ran for 124 yards and a touchdown for Green Bay, and fellow running back James Starks had two scores.
“Our defense just got tired at the end,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
The offense wasn’t much better.
The running game was a bright spot, with 171 yards on 20 carries. Darren McFadden had 111 yards on nine attempts.
But the Cowboys’ passing game struggled.
Cassel, starting his sixth game for the injured Tony Romo, was 13 of 29. A pass that deflected off star receiver Dez Bryant’s hands was intercepted in the end zone by Sam Shields in the first quarter.
“Tonight I don’t put this directly and shouldn’t and wouldn’t put it on Cassel,” Jones said. “We had a good opportunity to start this game and get a leg up, get some momentum going with that initial run, and we didn’t do it.”
The Cowboys (4-9) clinched their first losing season under Garrett, who took over when the team was 1-7 in 2010.
They had three straight years finishing 8-8 before going 12-4 last season.
“Every week is a fight, it’s a different challenge. There’s different circumstances that come up,” tight end Jason Witten said. “This is a good team and a good program, they’ve been good for a long time.”
Dallas also fell two games back of divisional leaders Washington and Philadelphia, which both won on Sunday.
The Packers (9-4) have a one-game lead in the NFC North over Minnesota after their second straight victory.
With 435 yards and 29 first downs, Green Bay got better production out of its inconsistent offense with coach Mike McCarthy assuming play-calling duties again.
The Packers were still hampered at times by penalties and problems in short-yardage situations.
But the defense and running game came up with big plays in the fourth quarter. Dallas’ touchdown came on Robert Turbin’s 7-yard run midway through the third quarter to make it 14-7.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 218 yards and two scores. But all the Packers really needed from their star quarterback late in the game was to hand off the ball.
“I don’t think it’s been about the play-calling,” Rodgers said. “It’s been about the execution. We haven’t executed really well. Today was a little better.”
Lacy and Starks each had touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.
“It’s definitely a springboard for us,” Lacy said. “We have three games left, we’ve got to finish these games out.”
Bryant was held to one catch for 9 yards. He had a long reception in the second quarter overturned on replay — the same thing happened to him last season during the Cowboys’ loss to the Packers in an NFC divisional round playoff game.
The latest reversal wasn’t as big a deal to Bryant.
“It is what it is, man. When they called it incomplete, it was incomplete,” Bryant said.
Dallas was forced to punt. Green Bay scored on its next possession on Rodgers’ 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers to make it 14-0 with 2:40 left in the second.
That was it for Green Bay’s offense until a 12-play drive in the fourth.
A drive that started at the 16 with 11:18 left ended more than six minutes later with a 30-yard run by Starks up the middle on second-and-25 to make it a two-score game. The Packers gained 78 yards on nine carries on the series.
NOTES: Witten had five catches for 40 yards. … The Cowboys managed just 11 first downs. … Starks, the second part of Green Bay’s one-two backfield punch, had 71 yards rushing on 11 carries, and 32 yards receiving on four catches. … Shields left with a concussion in the second quarter after making a sliding tackle on the Dallas sideline. … The Packers rushed for more than 200 yards for the first time since gaining 202 on Oct. 25, 2009, against Cleveland.
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