The Arizona Cardinals wanted to get a win to lock up the number two seed on Sunday. They not only won on Sunday, but they dominated, giving the Green Bay Packers a 38-8 beatdown on Sunday. They held Green Bay to 70 yards of offense in the first half and scored the first 31 points of game. Here is what we learned in the win.
The pass rush came ready against a battered Green Bay line
Calais Campbell was a wrecking ball the Packers couldn't contain. Dwight Freeney spun himself to another three sacks and another $300,000. Kareem Martin got in on the action, stripping the ball and getting Cory Redding a fat guy touchdown. In total, it was nine sacks for a team who has been unable to get any sort of pass rush (it would have been 10 if Jerraud Powers had not hit Rodgers in the helmet). Of course, the Packers were without their starting left tackle, lost their right tackle during the game and their center got banged up, too. In any case, it was fun to see.
Packers can't stop Cardinals offense or defense from scoring
The Cardinals were on fire on both sides of the ball. The offense scored the first 24 points. Then the defense wanted in on the action, returning two fumbles for touchdowns. They were also about three inches from a safety.
Cardinals fans made noise
For all the talk of the Green Bay takeover at the stadium and there was a lot of green and gold there, but Cardinals fans made noise. They more than did their job to keep the stadium feeling like a home game.
David Johnson is a revelation and having Ellington healthy with him is fun
He didn't have a ton of rushing yards, but he was everything. He scored on a rushing touchdown. He had another big play, breaking tackles and running through players, gaining 44 yards on a reception. It was another 127 yards from scrimmage for the third round pick.
Ellington, meanwhile, got much of the second half work and picked up another 40 yards on the ground, showing some of the explosiveness again we had been missing.
Bethel picked on an holds his own
Justin Bethel was targeted a lot by Aaron Rodgers. He looked bad a couple of times, but he also made several plays, including picking off a Rodgers pass in the end zone when the Packers had the ball in the red zone following Carson Palmer's interception.
Blowout means backups play
Aaron Rodgers went to the bench with about 10 minutes left. J.J. Nelson became the punt returner after that and Drew Stanton came in with more than eight minutes left and Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor allowed David Johnson and Andre Ellington to only carry the ball a combined 16 times. Of course, Williams fumbled, but in a blowout, those are much more manageable.
The Cardinals appear to be peaking for the postseason
The start of the season began with blowouts. They lost a couple of games they should have, then started winning closely. Now, just as the season is about to become postseason, they are back to rolling. It is a good way to work the season.
Arizona has a bye...and is damn good.
Arizona had essentially a must win game to reach their goal of a playoff bye. Not only did they win, they won in dominant fashion. Congrats to our Cardinals who will get a week off in the playoffs. They play Seattle next week and, in two weeks after that, will play another home game.
This team is great. It is winning in so many ways. The offense dominates. The defense has been great. They lose Tyrann Mathieu and are still great. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington go down and David Johnson is even better than they were. We are watching something special.