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The 4 -6 -1 Packers and 2 - 9 - 0 Cardinals had at least one thing in common - leadership on the bubble: Grand Master Mike McCarthy was said to "be in trouble"and relative newbie Steve Keim was considered by some to be "beyond/beyond" bubble status. Cards would be #38 if there were 38 NFL teams in the NFL. (It's one thing to be ranked last by USA Today, but to be singled out by them for liistless play" is hitting the lowest of the low). Packer season had been very disappointing, with some saying that this may be Aaron Rodgers' final year. (Others conclude that Rodgers is extremely ticked off and figures to take it out on the Cardinals). Cards, no doubt, were overjoyed that game will start 1 pm (ET) on the "frozen tundra' of Lambeau.
Cards Upset Packers 20 - 17
The Bottom Line:
Cards stayed close enough to the Packers to score a couple of opportune 2H touchdowns iand hold off a late-game Packer challenge to eke out a win due to a missed 49-yd Packer FG on the last play of the game.
Packer QB Aaron Rodgers had his usual partly full bag of tricks to draw from, but - watching the Green Bay offense go up against a fairly fired-up Cardinal defense, you got the feeling that - on more plays than not - the Packers were playing "not to win."
The Cardinals started David Amerson (in place of the recently cut Ben Benewikere). While by no means perfect, Amerson covered well and didn't suffer too many embarrassing one-on-one coverage or tackling moments.
David Johnson did not dominate, but his backup, Chase Edmonds had arguably his best game thus far as a pro.
Josh Rosen's roller-coaster play was pretty much what you'd expect (i.e. poor decisions mixed in with the bad, muffed snaps etc.) but continuing to show slight improvement play by play. There were two contenders for "play of the game" (1) Fitz hooking up with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen for a diving 32-yard gain on third-and-23, (a play that if incomplete would have probably meant the end of the Cardinals’ hopes) and (2) a 33 yd third quarter Rosen scramble that picked up an "impossible" first down and sustained a key Cardinal drive.
- KO returned to GB 21....GB picks up a first downs before having to punt weird call - "draw play" - on 3rd & 10)...TB on punt.
- Johnson picks up a quick +13 on first play from scrimmage....A +10 yd completion to Seals-Jones sustains the drive....Drive stalls (D Urban tweet - "on 3 passes, bad protection, great production and Holden beaten) and Cards punt...Punt downed at GB 16.
- Cards hold GB to 3 & out...Punt returned to AZ 46..
- A +9 short pass to Kirk picks up a Cardinal 1st down...On the 6th play of the possession, Rosen gets sacked by J jones for minus-8 yds...Punt is downed at GB 19.
- A Jones picks up +13 yds around RE...loses a yard off LT and gains +9 yards around RE to end the quarter.
1st Quarter Score: Cards 0 - Packers 0
3rd & 2 at the GB 40....After an incompletion (Boston sniffs out boot), punt is downed at Card 11.
3 & out. Penalty on Cards punt coverage team....Punt returned to AZ 35.
Rodgers hits D Adams for + 16 to start off the drive...On 4th & 4 at the Card 13, Rodgers hits D Adams for a 13-yd TD. (XP Good). Packers 7 - Cards 0.
TB on KO....Offsides penalty helps Cards pick up 1st down on short pass to Edmunds for +8...On a 3rd & 7, Rosen hits Fitz for 12 yds and a 1st down at the GB 47...On a 3rd & 7 at the GB 44, Rosen hits Sherfield for +21..Def holding flag sets Cards up - 1st & 10 at the GB 18...D Johnson gains +9 off LG...2 plays later, Edmund moves the pile 7yds up the middle (TD denied on reversal). After Holden (false start) is flagged for minus-5 yds, Edmunds motors 6-yds up the middle for a Cardinal TD (XP good)..... Packers 7 - Cards 7..
KO returned to GB 31...4:35 on clock...On first play of possession, Rodgers hits V-Scantling for +11 yds...PI flag on B Baker nets GB a 1st down...Two plays later they pick up another 1d. (B Baker injured - knee)...1st & 10 on AZ 40 at 2:00 mark...Rodgers scrambles for +4 and hits J Williams for +10...Then he hits Graham for +16 and J Williams for +5and D Adams for +7 With GB on the AZ 8 yard line (2nd & 3) Chandler Jones sacks Rodgers for a 6-yd loss, forcing GB to settle for a 32-yd FG. Packers 10 - Cards 7.
Halftme Score: Packers 10 - Cards 7.
TB on KO. Holding flag on Cunningham sets up a Cardinal 3 & out....Punt returned to GB35.
(B Baker back)..After GB picks up a quick 1st down, (Sure pick bounces off Amerson's hands)...Nkemdiche nails A Jones in the backfield for minus-5 yds to set up a GB punt....TB on punt....
Aborted snap sets up a Card punt. (Iupati injured). Punt fair caught at GB 24.
GB picks up a quick 1st down...A false start flag on GB sets up a punt. Punt returned to Card 13.
Kirk circles around RE for +23 yds...Rosen throws deep to Kirk for +37....1st & 10 at GB 27...Rosen throws three incompletions. 44 yd FG attempt by Gonzalez is good. Packers 10 - Cards 10.
TB on KO...Hodges stones J Williams on 3rd & 1. GB punts...Punt downed at AZ 35.
Play of Game? - Rosen scrambles up the middle for 33-yds before fumbling out of bounds at the GB 32...Edmunds follows that up with a 29-yd ramble off RG. False start flag on Aboushi gives Cards the ball at the GB 8...Edmunds then circles LE for an 8-yd TD. Cards 17 - Packers 10.
KO returned to GB 24...GB picks up a quick 1D...Baker tackles J Williams for a one-yd loss before quarter ends,.
Third Quarter Score: Cards 17 - Green Bay 10.
A defensive holding call nullifies a 36-yd completion to Cobb (over B Baker)...Punt returned to Card 29....
4 plays into a penalty-ridden series, the Cards were forced to punt. Punt downed at GB 5 (Think Andy Lee shouldn't be awarded a game ball)?...
An 11-yd completion to Adams sustained this GB drive. This was followed by a V-Scantling 21-yd run around RE to move GB to near midfield...Completions of +11 and +4 yds and 12 yds and +3 yds and +19 yds set up an 8-yd TD run by A Jones (What Rodgers essentially did was drive the Packers 95-yds from his own 5). Cards 17 - Green Bay 17
TB on KO. 5:56 left. On the 1st play of possession, Rosen was sacked for minus-8 yds...On the next play, the snap was aborted. On the next snap, there was a 5-yd delay of game penalty on Cards...This made it 3rd and 23 at the Cardinal 12. (Do you believe in miracles? Long answer: "Yes")...Rosen threaded the needle and hit Fitz for +32-yds to sustain the drive....A couple of runs by DJ and Edmunds netted another 12 yds and a 1st down...Then it was Johnson for another +9....and a few plays later, the Cards found themselves 4th & 3 at the GB 26 with 1:45 to go...Once again, Gonzalez was good from 44. Cards 20 - Green Bay 17
TB on KO...Rodgers converted a 4th & 5 at the GB 30 on a pass over the middle to Graham...He dinked his way just past mid-field with short passes leaving 0:30 left on the clock.In true Aaron Rodgers fashion, he scrambled 11 yds to the Cardinal 40...hit Cobb for +9 leaving the Packers 0:15 to attempt one pass (incomplete to V-Scantling) before having Crosby attempt a 49-yd FG with 0:03 on the clock. Attempt faded wide-right. Cards win!
Final Score: Cards 20 - Packers 17
Notable Game Stats.
Total Net Yards: Cards: 315 - Packers: 325
Penalties: Cards 7 for 49-yds- Packers 7 for 43yds
Time of Possession: Cards 27:34 - Chargers 32:26
Passing: Rosen - 11/26 for 149 yds, 0 TD, 0 Interceptions
..............: Rivers - 31/50 for 233 yds 1 TD, 0 Interceptions
Rushing: Johnson 20 carries for 69 yds, 0 TDs
.................Edmunds 5 carries for 53 yds, 2 TDs
..............: Jones 11 carries for 36 yds and 1 TD
Receiving: Kirk 3 for 54 yds. Fitz - 3 for 48 yds
................: D Adams 8 for 93 yds , Graham 8 for 50 Yds
Cards won - On the road - early game, in snowy conditions, against a desperate team
Rosen's scramble and clutch throw to Fitz to late in game
Welcome to the NFL, Chase Edmunds
Cards ran the ball than they have most of the year
Card defense also won more one-on-one physical battles than they lost.
Nkemdiche followed arguably his best game as a Cardinal with a strong performance
- B Baker is a baller (despite playing hurt)
- Amerson (while far from perfect) plugged some of the leaky holes in our pass coverage defense
- Wide receivers and Rosen are beginning to work better together
The Dark Side
Cunningham should be required to wear ear-muffs to minimize his false start penalties.
Why are there so many aborted snaps?
While pass coverage has improved, it has to be even tighter
Hopefully, the Cards have proved to themselves that, if they play technically sound football, they have the athletic talent to hang with the good teams and have a fighting chance of emerging the winner if they hang in there.
A note about coaching change buzz: I can understand why - when teams lose - there's a "fire the coach" outcry and tons of "woe is me" sentiment eminating from the nickel-seats. I believe that - when things are going badly for too long - a team reaches the point when a change simply has to be made. Sure looked that way in Arizona during the past half-dozen games. What the Green Bay win may have taught us is that the margin between consistently losing and consistently winning is razor-thin.
Ask me about Coach Wilks' coaching shelf life a week or two ago and I wouldn't have given him a snowball's chance in Tuscon. Ask me today and I'd have to concede that the Cardinals played a playoff contender "at their house"... in the early afternoon...in the snow...with a chip on their shoulder - and we not only won, but we played better than they did. Certainly raises the questiopn:: "Has Coach Wilks turned the corner?" Does he deserve a longer look? People far more football-wise than me have to make that decision, but when all the dust settles, let's just say that I wouldn't be devestated if we gave him another offseason, preseason and regular season to put his program totally in place. We won! How about that?