FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys lost three games all last season. They have now matched that loss total through five games in 2017 as they dropped to 2-3 heading into this week's bye thanks to a 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The Cowboys simply left too much time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers to come up with a final miracle and now time might be running out on their season.
The Cowboys are two games behind the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles (4-1).
The Cowboys will most likely find out this week if running back Ezekiel Elliott will be forced to start a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule this week.
That the Cowboys managed only two wins with Elliott in the lineup is a setback. Facing six games without Elliott would be a tough task.
They are where they are because of Rodgers and an all too familiar ending.
In January, Rodgers converted a magical third-and-20 play to lead the Packers to a game-winning field goal in the waning seconds of a 34-31 victory in the NFC Divisional Playoffs at AT&T Stadium.
As soon as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott scored on an 11-yard run to put the Cowboys ahead with 1:13 to go, sending the crowd of 93,329 at AT&T Stadium into a frenzy, one daunting thought came to mind.
The Cowboys left too much time for a Packers quarterback who generally makes miracles look easy.
And so it was again Sunday as Rodgers drove the Packers 75 yards on nine plays in 1:02 to win the game 35-31 with a beautiful 12-yard strike to Davante Adams over helpless rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis.
It was quintessential Rodgers, who completed 19 of 29 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. He also converted a third-and 8 play with a back-breaking 18-yard scramble that turned the focus of trying for a game-tying field goal into winning it outright.
"He's good, man," defensive end David Irving said. "I saw him out the corner of my eye making a spin, tried to get him, but I was inches behind him, missed the tackle. (Stuff) happens, especially playing against him."
Lewis was up for the task on the first attempt, but Rodgers called the same play again and Adams plucked it out of the air.
"It was a great throw and catch," Lewis said. "He placed the ball exactly where it had to be. I tried to make a play on the ball, turned my head around late. It was a great play."
It was equally devastating for a Cowboys team that seemingly did everything right on offense - controlling the ball and the clock behind a stellar performance from Prescott.
Prescott completed 25 of 36 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and his dramatic touchdown run.
"I thought Dak was really, really good in this ballgame, throwing the ball to the right guy and a lot of big-time throws throughout the game," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said.
And even late, the Cowboys applied the right formula, going 79 yards on 17 plays and taking 8:43 off the clock as they tried to keep Rodgers off the field.
But it wasn't enough as the defense couldn't hold up against Rodgers.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott could learn his long-term fate for 2017 this week.
The decision from the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that should come down in the next few days, offering clarity on the ongoing legal fight with the NFL over his six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
The court could reject the NFL's request for an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction that is keeping him on the field, forcing him to begin the suspension immediately.
The stay could be rejected, allowing him to play the rest of the season while the case is tried in court.
Or it could be thrown out completely by the 5th Circuit, re-implementing the suspension and forcing Elliott to try for another injunction with a court in New York.
If Sunday's 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers was his final game before being sidelined for the next seven weeks, considering next week's bye, he let his play do a lot of talking.
Elliott rushed 29 times for 116 yards in what was his best rushing game of the season. The 29 carries were the second most of his career.
He had 13 carries for 85 yards in the fourth quarter.
And his best and most important play might have been a stretch on a fourth-and-1 play that showed there is no quit in Elliott. Not this time.
Down 28-24, the Cowboys embarked on a 17-play, 89-yard scoring drive.
The crucial moment came on fourth-and11 at the Green Bay 20 with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game.
Elliott ran into a wall. The officials ruled him down, short of the first down. A replay showed that a determined Elliott stretched the ball over the yard line for a first down.
Head coach Jason Garrett threw out the challenge flag and the Cowboys kept the ball.
"I saw them in the goal-line defense with their four interior d-linemen just in a four-point stance crouching already low," Elliott said. "I knew they were going to go and cut our linemen. Then I saw the linebackers were positioned a little bit wide, ready for the bounce so I knew the only way I was going to get that was getting up over the pile and sticking the ball out. I hate doing that on short yardage. I knew in that moment you've got to have it, you've got to get that first down."
He got it.
Three plays later, quarterback Dak Prescott scored on a perfect zone read against a defense keying on Elliott.
It was Elliott's second 100-yard game of the season and evidence that the running game is showing signs of the former style that allowed him to lead the league in rushing as a rookie.
It was a matter of sticking with it on Sunday as Elliott had 30 yards on 14 carries in the first half, averaging 2.1 yards per carry.
"Got to thank (offensive coordinator Scott) Linehan," Elliott said. "That was genius how much he trusted the run game. You saw earlier in the game they were just stacking the box crazy. So many guys were in there. Linehan had faith in us and we kept running the ball and eventually wore them out. There in the fourth quarter we had some gashing runs."
Defensive ends David Irving and Damontre Moore will not be disciplined by the Dallas Cowboys for raising their fist at the end of the national anthem before Sunday's 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
It was a question because of owner Jerry Jones' shocking mandate after the game that he would bench any player who disrespected the anthem.
Head coach Jason Garrett said he had conversations with both players on Monday about their actions and has no issue with their actions.
"They did that well after the anthem was completed," Garrett said. "It was a private thing that they did for themselves. My understanding, it was done well after the anthem."
Garrett acknowledged that he hasn't talked to Jones about his comments and has never been part of a conversation where players were directly ordered to stand for the anthem or face retribution.
NOTES: DE David Irving had two sacks in his first game back after missing the first four games for using a banned supplement. ... DE DeMarcus Lawrence had one sack against the Packers and now has a career-high 8.5 for the season in only five games. He has now established a career-long streak with five consecutive games with at least one sack. It is also the longest sack streak by a Cowboys defender since DeMarcus Ware had a streak of eight consecutive games in 2012 (9/23/12-11/18/12). ... WR Dez Bryant caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. He became the second player in team history with 70 career touchdowns. ... LB Sean Lee missed his second consecutive game with a strained hamstring. He should be good to go after the bye. ... LB Anthony Hitchens played against the Packers after missing the first four games with a tibial fracture. He had seven tackles in his season debut.
REPORT CARD VS. THE PACKERS
--PASSING OFFENSE: B - The only real mistake in the passing game was a critical drop by receiver Terrance Williams that turned into an interception return for a touchdown. Williams has to catch the ball with his hands. Otherwise, quarterback Dak Prescott was seemingly flawless, completing 25 of 36 passes for 251 yards and a career-high tying three touchdown passes. Cole Beasley got into the act with two touchdown receptions. Prescott threw passes to eight different receivers.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: B - The running game got better as the game went on. Ezekiel Elliott had 29 tough carries for 116 yards, including 85 in the fourth quarter alone. He had 14 carries for 30 yards in the first half as he repeatedly ran into a wall. The Cowboys converted three fourth-down tries by running the ball. Quarterback Dak Prescott had four carries for 37 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown run on a zone read in the fourth quarter against a defense focused on stopping Elliott.
--PASS DEFENSE: F - The Cowboys sacked Aaron Rodgers four times, two by David Irving and one each by DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford. But they had little impact on the game or Rodgers' play. He started out 5 of 5 and finished 19 of 29 for 221 yards with three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 11 seconds left. Cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were targeted the most and it was Lewis who was burned for the game-winner by Davante Adams.
--RUSH DEFENSE: F - The Packers rushed 25 times for 160 yards. Yes, a Packers team without a real running game, playing a backup running back because the starter was injured. Little-known Aaron Jones rushed 19 times for 125 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers chipped in four carries for 32 yards, including a crucial 18-yard scramble on the game-winning scoring drive.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: B - Dan Bailey had five touchbacks on kickoffs. Chris Jones downed his only punt inside the 20. Ryan Switzer was smart on his returns and had a strong kickoff return called back for holding. The Cowboys were penalized for too many men on the field on a punt return. Geoff Swaim was also called for holding on a punt return.
--COACHING: D - For the second straight week, the Cowboys lost after holding a double-digit lead. For the second straight week, the Cowboys saw the game turn with a poor third quarter. For the second straight week, the Cowboys scored more than 30 points on offense and lost. Somebody has to be held accountable for the lack of focus that permeates this team when it has success and lack of halftime adjustments.