"My hands grew colder with each drive," he said later. "When your hands are as cold as mine were, you can't wing the ball, and you have to wing it, you have to spiral the ball in a wind like that."
But the second half was dramatically different. The Cowboys, having analyzed Green Bay's defense, changed a few blocking patterns to destroy the keys. Meredith, to give his passing hand a measure of warmth between plays, cut a hole in his jersey and tucked his hand in next to his belly. The defensive line continued to pressure Starr, and Dallas suddenly took charge.
The first time the Cowboys got the ball, Meredith moved them to the Green Bay 13. There, after a nine-yard run, he fumbled and Green Bay recovered. But on the next Packer series, hit with shocking force by Lee Roy Jordan, Starr lost 16 yards on one play while attempting to pass and the Cowboys came right back. This time Villanueva missed a field goal from the 47-yard line to end the drive.
Again the Dallas defense smeared Green Bay, which seemed to grow more helpless as the game went on. The Cowboys took over on their own 45 after a short punt. On second down Meredith handed off to Dan Reeves, who was a quarterback at South Carolina during his undergraduate days, and Reeves swept wide to his left. Dallas had had some success with this run during the third period.
"I was slow mentally on the play," Bob Jeter, the Green Bay right corner-back, said after the game. "We know-all about Reeves's option pass. They've used it a lot. Usually Willie Wood will tell me that he's going to take Lance Rentzel deep, or I'll tell him that I'll take him, but this time we didn't say anything. Willie moved up to meet the run and I took a step up and when I saw him cock his arm, I said to myself, 'Oh, my Lord, what have I done?' I tried to get back, but when I saw the ball in the air, I knew it was all over."
The pass play, from Reeves to Rentzel, carried 50 yards and put Dallas ahead for the first time, 17-14. It came on the first play of the fourth period, and although the Packers still had plenty of time, with Dallas dominating the game Green Bay's chances of winning seemed as remote now as Dallas's had earlier.
The next two times the Packers got the ball, they gained a total of only 21 yards, with 14 of those coming on an interference penalty. So, when Dallas had to punt with five minutes left to play and the Packers gained possession on their own 31 with 4:50 to go, most of the frozen crowd of more than 50,000 had almost decided to go home, warm up, and drown their sorrows with a sad New Year's Eve celebration.
"We went out for the huddle," Starr said, "and decided that if we were going to do it, it had to be now." Jerry Kramer, who had labored mightily blocking on Dallas's Jethro Pugh, said, "For the first time I had doubts. I thought, well, maybe the time has come for us to lose. But I had a second thought immediately. I thought that if we went, we'd go swinging."
For the next 4� minutes the Packers burrowed deep into that reservoir of experience and determination that has accumulated in their unequaled three-year reign as champions of the world. The Cowboys had been double-covering the two Packer wide receivers—Dowler and Carroll Dale—so Starr could not go to them. Instead, he threw a short pass to Donny Anderson to open the series. Then Chuck Mercein (see cover) skittered outside right end for seven more yards behind a strong block on Linebacker Chuck Howley.
To remind the Dallas defense that he had not forgotten his wide receivers, Starr hit Dowler over the middle with a 13-yard pass for a first down. Anderson lost nine yards on what was meant to be an option pass, but Starr came right back and tossed him a dinky pass over the head of an onrushing lineman, and Anderson, maneuvering well on the icy turf, gained 12.