GREEN BAY, Wis. On an uncharacteristically quiet night for Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys leaned on their defense and running game then unleashed little-known wide receiver Miles Austin to put away a 27-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
Marion Barber ran for a career-high 142 yards and a touchdown, and rookie Felix Jones added a 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Austin, a backup who plays mostly on special teams, sealed the win with a 52-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
"Just taking advantage of the double-teams on T.O. and (Jason) Witten," Austin said. "It's an advantage to me to have them on the team because they're going to take a lot of the pressure off me. I'm just going in there and trying to make plays when I can, and I'm fortunate enough that the coaches have trust in me, and the quarterback trusts me to give me the ball."
Wisconsin native Tony Romo was 17-of-30 for 260 yards and Owens was held to two catches for 17 yards as Dallas (3-0) joined the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants as the NFC's only undefeated teams.
"He played great," Romo said of Austin. "He did a great job, and we're excited to have him."
It was the Cowboys' first win at Lambeau Field, and it came with former Packers stars such as Bart Starr and Paul Hornung watching from the sidelines. It also was a bump in the road for new Packers starter Aaron Rodgers, who completed 22 of 39 passes for 290 yards. However, he wasn't able to put together consistent scoring drives against Dallas' defense after standout performances in his first two games this season.
"The Dallas Cowboys are farther ahead than we are right now, and that's the facts," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Rodgers scored on a sneak to cut Dallas' lead to 27-16 with 2:11 remaining, but the ensuing onside kick was touched by the Packers before it traveled 10 yards and the Cowboys got the ball back.
Green Bay (2-1) trailed 13-6 at halftime, but Rodgers connected with Donald Driver on a 50-yard pass early in the third quarter that set up a field goal to cut Dallas' lead to four.
Romo answered with a 63-yard pass to Austin to set up first-and-goal at the Green Bay 3. Barber found the end zone two plays later for a 2-yard touchdown run that put Dallas ahead 20-9.
Romo again turned to Austin to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, tossing a 52-yard touchdown into double coverage down the right sideline to give Dallas a 27-9 lead with 9:17 remaining.
The long passes to Austin were two of the Cowboys' few downfield plays all night. The Packers held Romo to nine completions for 75 yards at halftime. Owens caught two passes in the first half, then was silenced in the second.
Packers cornerback Charles Woodson stuck to Owens all night, with significant help from the safeties. The Packers' pass defense played most of the game without star cornerback Al Harris, who went to the locker room with cramps just before halftime.
But with Green Bay's defensive backfield preoccupied by Owens, Dallas got consistent production from Barber and a big play from Jones.
With the Cowboys trailing 6-3 midway through the second quarter, Jones broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run that gave Dallas a 10-6 lead.
The Cowboys had a chance to add to their lead just before halftime, but Romo was sacked on a second-and-4 play at the Packers 5-yard line and had to settle for a field goal.
Romo had another misstep in the red zone in the first quarter, throwing an interception in the end zone to safety Nick Collins. Collins ran the ball back 61 yards, setting up Mason Crosby's field goal that put the Packers ahead 6-3 early in the second quarter.
Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones started the game with a big play, stripping the ball from running back Ryan Grant on the Packers' second play from scrimmage and returning it to the Green Bay 14-yard line. That set up the Cowboys' first field goal.