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Arizona Cardinals clinch first round bye over Green Bay Packers 38-8

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The Arizona Cardinals beat Green Bay 38-8 with a defensive statement win and Aaron Rodgers being sent to the bench to avoid further sacks.

Justin Bethel has a big game while being targeted by Aaron Rodgers
Justin Bethel has a big game while being targeted by Aaron Rodgers
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Below is the full game recap, remember to post your comments below the article!

First Quarter

The Cardinals played without their Pro Bowl Safety Tyrann Mathieu who was injured last week and will miss the rest of the season. The announcers made mention to how loud and numerous the Packers fans were in attendance at the University of Phoenix stadium. So the Arizona Cardinals planned to use a silent snap count for the first time at home to offset the noise.

During the first offensive possession the Packers defense plays tight and forces a punt, and more importantly it was a 3-and-out. The Cardinals defense was able to force a punt after a lucky incompletion which should have been called for pass interference on Patrick Peterson. The Packers punt rolled to the five yard line for the Cardinals next possession.

On first down, David Johnson ran with authority for six yards setting up the play-action allowing Carson Palmer to hit Michael Floyd in stride for a first down at the 23 yard line. David Johnson caught a dump pass out of the back field and turned it into a 44 yard catch and run up the sideline breaking tackles and cutting on the deep run up to the 35 yard line.

The Cardinals were unable to do anything with the good field position after giving up two sacks and having to punt the ball. Good special teams coverage by Brittan Golden puts the ball at the Packers five yard line.

The Packers used Lacy on early downs and he was able to get a first down after three hard runs in a row. A Justin Bethel holding call negates great defensive play where Aaron Rodgers was under deep pressure and threw the ball away, but the holding call created an automatic first down. The Packers were stopped by the defense following the hold and punted the ball away. During the punt the Packers face mask call against them which Coach Bruce Arians accepted the penalty to have the 15 yards added to the end of Patrick Peterson's run.

John "Smokey" Brown caught a sideline catch on first bringing the Cardinals to the 35 yard line. David Johnson then burst through a small hole for an eight yard gain and follows it up with a four yard carry for first down after a cut. David Johnson continues to show his ball handling skills with an eight yard catch, followed by a cut and run for seven more yards to set up first and goal.

Second Quarter

It takes the Cardinals three times to hit Larry Fitzgerald right inside the end zone for Larry Fitzgerald's 97th career touchdown catch and the Cardinals take the lead Arizona Cardinals 7, Green Bay 0.

The Packers start at their 20 after the touchback and throws three times in a row for the first down. A holding call against the Green Bay offensive line set up a 2nd and 15 that is stopped by Deone Buccanon setting up 3rd and 13 where Calais Campbell gets a sack off of a double team. There was also a holding penalty on the play against Green Bay which is declined by Arizona and a Green Bay punt to the Arizona 27 yard line. The Packers had contact with Peterson during the fair catch and no penalty was called, Peterson touched the ball but Arizona was able to recover.

Michael Floyd uses his big body against Green Bay's Rollins to block out the defender for a 15 yard catch. David Johnson runs hard for five yards setting up man to man coverage on the outside and Michael Floyd beats his man for a catch and run first down. David Johnson takes a 29 yard catch and run up the right sideline beating the linebacker and gets to the five yard line. Johnson on 2nd and goal from the 2 yard line pushes the pile to the 1 setting up 3rd and goal. Palmer throws to David Johnson in the right side flat to David Johnson who drops the pass due to a big hit inside the one yard line. Cardinals kicker, Chandler Catanzaro, hits the 19 yard kick bringing the Cardinals lead to 10, Green Bay 0.

The Packers struggle and on 3rd down Deone Buccanon almost intercepts Aaron Rodgers bringing up a fake punt which is successful. The Cardinals get a big sack on Aaron Rodgers as Calais Campbell has his second sack of the day and then Campbell and Golden split a sack on third down. The Packers punt it to the Cardinals 22 yard line.

At the 2 minute warning Palmer throws an interception to Defensive Lineman Mike Daniels on a poorly timed screen pass to David Johnson. The Cardinals Defense then takes the field. On 3rd and 5 the Cardinals Defense earns a hold and Justin Bethel picks off Aaron Rodgers in the end zone. (Writers note: Bethel may have earned himself a steak dinner from Palmer with that save.)

With fifty eight seconds to go Carson Palmer throws a good ball to Michael Floyd who jumps up to get it and run it to the 33 yard line. Floyd with sticky gloves follows it up with a nine yard catch. Right before the half it is announced that B.J. Raji will not return to the game with a concussion caused by a collision with his own team on an earlier play. A Packers holding penalty sets up the Cardinals at the 20 yard line. Larry Fitzgerald on the slant route takes the Cardinals to the eight yard line setting up first and goal. On a rare sight, Larry Fitzgerald drops a sliding attempt to catch the ball. On 3rd and goal John Brown catches his seventh touchdown pass of the year and then pinballs around into the end zone bringing the Cardinals lead to 17-0 with six seconds left in the half.

Halftime Score: Arizona Cardinals 17, Green Bay 0

Third Quarter

On a Green Bay James Starks fumble the Arizona Cardinals recover the fumble setting up a quick Arizona Cardinals score. David Johnson catches a wheel route and runs up the sideline for a score! Cardinals 24-Green Bay 0.

On the kick Green Bay has a holding call against them and Dwight Freeney uses his spin move to get a big sack on Rodgers on the one yard line. Rodgers throws a deep pass to Davonte Adams who spikes the ball causing a penalty for five yards off of the pass. The Cardinals then sack Aaron Rodgers and Deone Buccanon forces a fumble and Rodgers is able to recover the ball. Arizona has five sacks at this point.

On the next play Rodgers scrambles from the pocket and is in the field of play but slows down to step out of bounds but a Defender hits him for a legal hit to push him out of bounds. Rodgers complains, but the play was legal. On the next play Rodgers scrambles for the first down and it is clear that the game is being fought in the trenches as Arizona brings the heat on every play. Kadeem Martin flies around the side on the next play causing a strip sack and Corey Redding recovers and returns it for a touchdown. Touchdown Cardinals 31- Green Bay 0.

The Packers start running Eddie Lacy to take the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers and Lacy is able to rip off a big run. The Cardinals have two plays with 12 men on the field and Rodgers takes advantage of it by trying deep passes. On 3rd and 7 Rodgers goes deep to Jones for the touchdown but Jones is unable to bring it in on the sideline. Packers go for it on 4th down and Jones is able to catch the ball on the sideline to convert. The Cardinals send an aggressive blitz and Lacy is able to sneak out of the backfield and Cardinals defender D.J. Swearinger misses his man giving up a long run to Lacy for the touchdown. The Packers go for 2 and James Jones is able to catch the back shoulder throw. Cardinals 31 - Green Bay 8.

The Green Bay Packers surprise Arizona with an onside kick but Jaron Brown sniffs it out and makes a circus catch and surrenders himself on the ground. A great Cardinals play.

The Cardinals start at the 48 yard line and hand off to Andre Ellington in to spell David Johnson for a two yard gain. Ellington then takes a dump pass set up a 3rd and 3 which is backed up by a Ted Larson false start. On 3rd and 8 Carson Palmer overthrows a wide open John Brown streaking up the sideline and the Cardinals miss an opportunity and have to punt it away to the Packers 15.

Rodgers takes a sack at the five yard line and Jerraud Powers gets a roughing the passer penalty for helmet-to-helmet contact negating the sack against Aaron Rodgers. Frostee Rucker is able to get the sack back and the seventh sack is registered. On the next play Dwight Freeney strip sacks Aaron Rodgers and Jerraud Powers catches the fumble for a touchdown! Cardinals 38 - Green bay 8. With that 8th sack of the game the Green Bay Packers start considering sitting Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers takes the field and the pressure continues but on 3rd down he's able to make a pass to Andrew Quarless to get a first down and extend the play. On 2nd and 8 Lacy returns to the field to defend Rodgers and Rodgers takes a deep pass down the field aimed at Justin Bethel and a defensive pass interference call is made. Bruce Arians argues that the pass was uncatchable and argues too much and draws an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty adding on five yards.

The Packers with 2nd and goal call their first timeout due to running out of time on the play clock. With 2nd and goal on the eight yard line the Packers throw to Davonte Adams but Justin Bethel commits to the tackle and brings him down on the 3 yard line. It is clear that Rodgers is targeting Bethel. On third down Adams misses a jump ball and brings up 4th and goal. Rodgers splits everyone out and throws the quick pass to Adams and Justin Bethel makes the play to keep Adams out of the end zone. Turnover on downs.

The Cardinals hand off to Andre Ellington to run from the 2 yard line and he runs for eight yards and closes out the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter

On second down Andre Ellington runs through the right side for a quick run up to the 24 yard line. Showing his shiftiness Ellington is splitting tackles and showing burst on the injured foot. Palmer turns to Larry Fitzgerald for a quick strike and first down, Larry is called to rest on the sideline and Jaron Brown takes his place. A 21 yard pass and catch to Brown is negated based on an illegal hands to the face call. On 3rd and 16 Palmer overthrows Michael Floyd and is forced to punt the ball with 10:04 left in the game.

On the punt Justin Bethel has incredible coverage and the Green Bay receiver doesn't call for a fair catch, Bethel drives into the receiver at the 13 yard line. Aaron Rodgers is rested on the bench and Scott Tolzien takes the field.

Dwight Freeney on the edge rush powers through a face mask and sacks Tolzien in the end zone. The Cardinals lose a challenge for forward progress and the Packers punter is able to punt it from the back of the end zone to the 50 yard line.

Drew Stanton enters the game to close out the final 7:50 in the game. Stanton hits Keywynn Williams for four yards. On 3rd and 6 the hand off to Williams ends with a big Williams run as Bobby Massie and J.J. Nelson ran blocking up the right side. Williams on a big run up the middle fumbles the ball and Green bay recovered. Drew Stanton saves a touchdown with a tackle and no one behind him and the end zone.

With under five minutes left the Green Bay Packers try to establish the run game Crockett and extra tight ends on what appears to be an attempt to run out the clock and end the game. With the punt the Cardinals have less than three minutes remaining.

The Cardinals bring out their own big running game and try to run out the clock. Many of the starters are brought out and the 2nd team offense to get them some play time and protect the starters. On a big block Johnathan Cooper has a big block and Williams breaks off a big run to close out the game with a first down. The Cardinals set up victory formation and with a knee have earned a first round bye in the playoffs.

Go Cardinals!