In the biggest game of the Cardinals new season, the Cardinals hosted the Packers in a high stakes rematch game. With the Cardinals well rested and the Packers with a few key pieces this time around, the game was unlikely to look like the week 16 blowout.
It wasn't. Arizona had a win locked up, then Aaron Rodgers tied the game on a Hail Mary. Then there was a coin toss fail and then a 75-yard busted play by Larry Fitzgerald, leading to a 26-20 overtime victory for Arizona, sending thme to the NFC Championship Game.
To start the game the Packers won the toss but deferred to the Cardinals who of course the ball to start the game. The Cardinals offense came out and quickly went right back to the sideline with a run of a yard for the only positive play.
The defense responded and made easy work of the Packers offense and was able to get the ball back into the Cardinals offense’s hands. The offense came out played like we expect them to by driving down the field, converting a fourth and less than a yard and scoring the TD on a beautiful Carson Palmer pass to Michael Floyd for the first TD of the game!
Floyd caught the ball in the right corner of the end zone and toe tapped for safety on the grab.
From there it was an exchange of good defense as the quarter winded down with the Packers ending the quarter on the beginning of a nice drive.
The Cardinals defense continued to play well on the first two downs but kept allowing Rodgers to find a way to convert some well-defended third downs.
During the first quarter it appeared Randall Cobb was injured and during the second quarter he was carted off the field with an injury, further depleting an already thin Packers WR core.
Despite this the Packers continued to drive, getting deep into Cardinals territory. With the Cardinals looking like they were going to give up the score, Patrick Peterson intercepted Aaron Rodgers and took it all the way! But Frostee Rucker was called (correctly) for hands to the face and gave the Packers a fresh set of downs.
Thankfully the defense was able to hold on and keep the Packers to a short field goal. Despite the gifts from the Cardinals it appeared that Rodgers was started to get frustrated, something that could play big as the game goes on as Rodgers has begun to develop a rep as a guy who doesn’t play well when he’s not having fun.
Late in the second quarter it was announced that Randall Cobb was declared out due to a chest injury. However that did stop the Packers passing attack, as after the Cardinals offense was able to only muster a first down the Packers offense continued to click as they chipped away at the Cardinals defense and in particular, Justin Bethel who started to struggle mightily in the second quarter.
Despite giving up a ton of yards and most of the second quarter, the defense held the Packers injured offense to a field goal a just over a minute left in the half.
The Cardinals offense again came out and did nothing but give up a sack and then run out the clock to go into halftime. It was a super ugly half for the offense outside of the one scoring drive. I’m sure the team will get a verbal beat down by Bruce Arians after that pathetic first half.
Halftime Packer 6 Cardinals 7
The Packers started the half with the ball and again seemed to be able to drive against the Cardinals until a tipped pass by Calais Campbell turned into a Rashad Johnson INT!
However the Cardinals offense continued to struggle and Palmer threw his first INT on a third and long, giving the Packers the ball around there own 20. At this point in the game it appears the Packers are just a few injuries away from taking control of this game. The Cardinal’s offense looks at impotent as they did against Seattle in week 17.
The Cardinals defense was unable to hold and eventually gave up a TD to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, looking exhausted due to the Packers utilizing the hurry up offense and a huge 60+ yard run by Eddie Lacy.
At this point it’s not looking good for the Cardinals, with the offense looking like its being run by Ryan Lindley and not MVP candidate Carson Palmer.
The offense finally got some momentum going but stalled in the red zone after a Larry Fitzgerald personal foul on an illegal block. The Cardinals offense showed life with Fitzgerald leading the way. The offense had a chance to score but Palmer overthrew an open David Johnson and was almost intercepted because of i. The Cardinals had to settle for a field goal but at least gave the defense some rest and an opportunity to regroup.
The Cardinals inability to get pressure on Rodgers so far has been the story of the game.
The defense finally showed some metal and was able to hold the Packers after a John Kuhn false start. The Cardinals offense continued to show life their moving the ball on the hands and legs of Larry Fitzgerald who has been the key to the Cardinals offense thus far. With the Cardinals inside the Packers thirty the quarter ended.
The quarter started with a Carson Palmer INT in the end zone, a kiss of death for the Cardinals this season. With pressure in his face Palmer lofted up a pass to John Brown but was intercepted on the underthrown ball. With the Cardinals season on the line the offense and Carson Palmer in particular have been nothing but disappointing.
This game is slipping away as the defense continues to lose to an outmanned Packers offense but all it takes is a play. On a third down catch that seemed weird right away, a Packers TE seemingly caught the ball short of the first but wasn’t called down by they refs and preceded to run to the Arizona 20 yard line. A replay showed that not only was the pass dropped but the TE would have also been down by contact. Arians immediately challenged the play and the refs rewarded the Cardinals with a 4th and long and a punting situation.
With the game winding down the Cardinals offense continued their show of life, with Arians staying steady with the run game and Palmer making some nice throws.
With the Cardinals driving, the Packers defense did enough to get the Cardinals to a third and ten but an awesome throw by Palmer and an even better catch by Johnson gave the Cardinals hope for a TD.
On the new set of downs Palmer attempted to hit Fitzgerald for a TD but the ball was tipped by the defender and in real time it appeared it would be intercepted but Michael Floyd was there to grab the tip and his second TD of the game!
OMG MY HEART.
With 3:44 to go the game is on the hands of the defense who has been good, but not great thus far.
But playoff teams rise to the occasion and after forcing a third down and five, the Packers decided to go for it on 4th. Palmer attempted to hit James Jones who was blanketed by Patrick Peterson and skipped the ball in, turning the ball over and giving the Cardinals the ball on their own 25-yard line with just 2:38 to go!
Cardiac Cards, here we go again.
While everyone thought the Cardinals would run the ball to kill as much time as possible, Arians goes for the juggler attempting to hit Fitzgerald for the first but the pass was incomplete and gave the Packers more time then expected with the clock stopping and the two-minute warning impending.
The Cardinals got a few more yards on a pitch to DJ and the clock hit two minutes. Chandler Catanzaro stepped out to attempt the field goal, the make separating the game to seven points. With the high pressure Cat was cool and nailed it to extend the lead to ten.
But the incomplete pass gave the Packers an extra 35-40 seconds, a total of 1:55 left in the game but with no timeouts. The ensuing kick was covered excellently and the Packers started on the Cardinals fourteen-yard line with 86 yards to go and only a minute fifty on the clock.
With the defense needing to make a stop, they started the drive well forcing an incomplete pass and Dwight Freeney setting up Marcus Golden for the sack on the second play. The next pass Rodgers went deep and the Cardinals got away with what looked like a Justin Bethel pass interference to force a Packers third and long with 55 seconds left on the clock.
On third the Rodgers was able to hit a big play to the Cardinals 36, with everyone expecting a spike Rodgers attempted to hit a big play but the Packers offense was not set and a penalty moved them back with just 12 left on the clock. The play killed the majority of their clock. The next play, on the Cardinals 41, the defense was able to get pressure on Rodgers and force the incompletion and leave just five seconds on the clock.
The only option left to the Packers is the Hell Mary, which they completed against the Detroit to win their Thursday night matchup. And they did it again to tie the game against the Cardinals. Wow. With the extra point good the game heads into overtime.
End of Regulation
Initially it seemed that the Packers won the toss but after a replay, maybe the first replay on a coin flip ever, the Cardinals got the ball to start overtime. The next play Palmer avoided two would be sacks to hit a wide-open Larry who took it all the way to the Packers four-yard line!
Two plays later, an inside toss to Larry Fitzgerald was the game winner! What a game!
Packers 20 Cardinals 26!
Carson Palmer gets his first playoff win and the Cardinals advance to the NFC Championship game to face either the Seahawks at home or the Panthers on the road!