Levens rushed for a Packers record 190 yards

By Dave Goldberg Associated Press Published:

Levens rushed for a Packers record 190 yards and Favre threw four touchdowns passes as Green Bay routed Dallas 45-17 Sunday, breaking a 10-10 halftime tie by scoring every time it touched the ball after intermission.

Still, the win was sweeter because it was the first for this edition of the Packers, who had lost eight straight to Dallas, the last seven at Texas Stadium. There were some who felt the Packers' Super Bowl victory last season was tarnished because they didn't defeat Dallas along the way.

"I have a vivid memory of last year after they beat us _ Reggie White pointed at the sideline and said 'come to Lambeau, come to Lambeau,"' said Levens, who broke Jim Taylor's 36-year-old single-game record of 186 yards.

"I knew we had them when they left the field two minutes early in warmups because of the cold."

Actually, while the wind chill was minus-4 when the game started and the temperature was in the 20s, the Packers didn't really have them until the second half. But then they REALLY had them.

"I witnessed in the second half probably the best kicking the Cowboys have had in a long time," Dallas coach Barry Switzer said. "We were totally dominated."

Indeed they were _ Green Bay was 9-of-9 on third downs after intermission, 13-of-17 for the game.

"We really didn't adjust, we just made plays," Favre said. "The biggest key was that on third down, we converted."

The defense helped, too.

After surrendering 467 yards last week in a loss to previously winless Indianapolis, it allowed Dallas only 213, and chipped in with a touchdown of its own _ a 34-yard fumble return by Darren Sharper. A telling stat: Dallas had as many first downs as it had penalties, 11.

But the most important is that the victory puts the Packers (9-4) a game ahead in the NFC Central of Minnesota and Tampa Bay, which both lost. Their next two games are on the road against the Vikings and Bucs.

Two of Favre's TD passes, 4- and 2-yarders to tight end Mark Chmura, came in a third quarter in which Dallas ran just three offensive plays and had the ball for just 1 minute, 44 seconds. Levens, who carried 33 times, got 145 of his yards in the second half and capped his day with a 5-yard TD run with 1:55 left.

Favre also threw for 7 yards to Levens in the first quarter and 23 to Antonio Freeman in the fourth.

The Cowboys (6-6) demonstrated the problems that have hurt them all season _ getting in the end zone _ although they had the ball for just 7:41 in the second half. Their 103 yards in penalties included a critical 34-yard pass interference call against Deion Sanders, whose 50-yard pass interception return was one of their two TDs.

They scored only one offensive touchdown and now might have to win their remaining four games to keep alive their streak of six straight playoff appearances.

"It was a pretty good whoopin' in the second half," said quarterback Troy Aikman said. "They played very well and we didn't play very well."

It was 10-10 at halftime _ both touchdowns coming when Favre threw the ball.

The first was the 7-yarder to Levens, the second with 1:20 left in the first half when Favre tried to throw to the sideline off his back foot and Sanders picked it off and high-stepped down the sideline.

"You don't throw the ball late on Deion's side," Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren said. "That's training camp 101. But that's the one thing Brett didn't listen to me all day."

By the end, Favre could joke about it. Late in the game, he and Sanders embraced during a timeout and Sanders held up one finger, indicating that he got Favre that one time.

But Favre then laughed and held up four.

Sanders' one shot came with 1:19 left in the half and gave Dallas a 10-7 lead. But Green Bay scored on Ryan Longwell's 32-yard field goal to tie it at the half, and then came the deluge.

Sanders gave back his TD when he grabbed Freeman at the Dallas 5 on the first drive of the half, and two plays later, Favre hit Chmura with a 4-yard pass that made it 17-10.

Then the Packers used up 8:34 to go 73 yards in 16 plays, capping it with a 2-yarder to Chmura that made it 24-10.

Emmitt Smith's 22-yard run 1:38 into the fourth quarter cut it to 24-17.

But it was Dallas' last gasp as Levens simply wore down their defense.

It was also a major relief for the Packers.

"I have exorcised one demon. Next week, I have another to deal with," said Holmgren, whose team plays next week at Minnesota, where he has yet to win in five appearances as a head coach.

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