Aaron Rodgers' season-ending facemask

The Green Bay Packers 51-45 loss to the Arizona Cardinals has taken a bit to digest, but we know three things for sure.

First, it was a great game. I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

Second, the Packers shit the bed. The league’s second-ranked defense gave up 531 yards of offense to the Cardinals, and made 38-year-old Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner look like the Messiah himself. Warner had more touchdowns on the day (five) than incompletions (four), but more on the defense’s failures later today.

Third, the game ended on a play that should have been an Arizona penalty.

I can hear the sour grapes calls now, but a penalty is a penalty and Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams clearly grabbed Aaron Rodgers facemask on the play that ended the Packers’ season – a blitz and sack by Adams that caused Rodgers to fumble into the arms of Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby, who scored a touchdown for the winning margin.

Why wasn’t a penalty called? Incompetence? Idiocy? The game was rigged? I really don’t know. Maybe the referees were just as stunned as the rest of us when the play happened. Maybe they were too tired from all that running up and down the field. Maybe they had to catch a plane and needed to get to the airport.

Had the facemask penalty been called, the Packers would have gotten the ball and 15 yards on third-and-five. Who can say if they would have scored, but the way the Packers’ offense was moving the ball in the second half, the chances of a score looked pretty good. In any case, it would have been nice to have the opportunity.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing the Packers can do about it, except wait until next season. It’s now just less than seven months before the first players report for training camp.