Cardinals 51, Packers 45

11:43 Mon 11 Jan 2010
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I don’t write about football that often, but wow, that was some game.

96 total points, an NFL postseason record. 62 total first downs, an NFL postseason record. 1024 combined yards, tied for third in NFL postseason history.

Kurt Warner’s line: 29 of 33 passes, 379 yards passing, 11.5 yards per pass, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 154.1 passer rating.

Aaron Rodgers’ line: 28 of 42 passes, 422 yards passing, 10.0 yards per pass, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception, 121.3 passer rating.

Both quarterbacks had ridiculous days, but Warner’s stats are insane. More touchdowns than incomplete passes!

The Cardinals were up early, by seventeen, and then up late, by twenty-one. I really thought that the game was done when they went ahead 31–10 in the third quarter. But I changed my mind when I saw the Packers on their next possession. They didn’t seem demoralized, or even all that concerned. Obviously it’s hard to tell from a distance, on television, just how they were feeling, but the way they performed on the field certainly made it seem as if they were still confident. That’s how they seemed before they scored—after they scored, it was clear that they had decided the game was far from over. The Cardinals should have been expecting an onside kick at that point—great call by the Packers, and they recovered it and drove down the field to make it 31–24.

The problem was that while the Packers had woken up on offense and could drive the ball down the field at will, the Cardinals could as well, and knew it. So they just kept doing that. Warner’s play was sublime. When the Packers tied the game at 45(!), they left too much time on the clock, giving Warner almost two minutes to drive. The Cardinals had to burn a timeout early in that drive for no good reason, however, which could have cost them dearly. With fourteen seconds left, they brought on the field goal unit for what should have been an easy game-winner—but missed it.

Overtime, and the Packers won the toss. I thought that was it, that whoever won the toss would win the game (I hate the NFL overtime rules, where a coin toss determines possession and the first team to score wins). On the first play from scrimmage, Rodgers barely missed hitting a receiver downfield for what would have been a touchdown. Two plays later, Rodgers was hit by a pass rusher, and the ball came forward, bounced off his flailing leg as he was falling over, and then right into the hands (without hitting the ground) of another pass rusher. Who ran it into the end zone. Defensive touchdown for the Cardinals to win the game.

Crazy, crazy game. Coming into the game, the Packers had the fifth-ranked pass defense in the NFL… which didn’t seem to faze Kurt Warner much.

One of the things that decided the final play was Rodgers’ leg, as he was being bowled over, because by sheer chance the ball bounced off it—if it hadn’t, then it would have hit the ground before being recovered, and I strongly suspect the tuck rule might have reared its ugly head again, and again under absolutely critical circumstances. While it’s bad for the Packers, I think it’s better for the game that didn’t happen.

Next week, Cardinals–Saints… another dome game, with two high-performance offenses. In case it’s relevant, the Saints’ pass defense is ranked twenty-sixth. It could be another offensive explosion, although I have to think that it won’t match yesterday’s game.

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One Response to “Cardinals 51, Packers 45”

  1. Stephen Casey Says:

    Man, just watched some abbreviated highlights of this game – I can’t believe I gave up on it after the first half. Some serious play there.

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