The Packers defense pulled out a miracle finish, sealing a hard fought victory at Arizona on Thursday night. Rasul Douglas just became the most important Brian Gutekunst roster addition of 2021 when he saw a short but accurate pass coming towards him in the corner of the end zone and made a game sealing interception. He was helped by Cardinal wideout A.J. Green who seemed to be taking the play off. Green never turned around for the ball, allowing Douglass to play the hero for Green Bay.
Most Packer fans had doubts the Packers could compete against the Cardinals not having their three top wideouts or their defensive coordinator. Add to the list sitting on the bench: the Packers starting two corners. How could the Packers keep Kyler Murray from taking over? In 2021, the young quarterback was putting up MVP numbers. Plus, bad luck seems to follow Packer teams in the desert. All Packer fans remember the 51-45 OT playoff loss in 2010, the beat down in 2015, and the OT game in January 2016. Three bitter losses where the ball just didn’t seem to bounce the Packer’s way.
That spell is now broken and while the Packers had to have the Rasul Douglas miracle pick to pull it out, they dominated the Cardinals in time of possession. The Packers offense held the ball fifteen minutes more than the Cardinals. The offense ran the ball with power and speed. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are turning into a fantastic one-two punch. The tandem ran for 137 yards. Dillon averaged 4.9 yards a carry. Jones averaged 3.9. Rodgers only passed for 184 yards.
To win this game the Packers had to overcome a 7-0 Arizona lead. After two punts by the Packers and one by Arizona, the Cardinals drove 63 yards in 7 plays; the breakout play being a 39 yard sideline catch by Deandre Hopkins that schooled Packer rookie Eric Stokes. That play looked like a touchdown but Hopkins was called for an offensive face mask and seemed to reinjure his hamstring. Hopkins played sparingly after that play, only catching one more pass in the game.
The Packers first scoring drive, a 14 play 75-yard 8 1/2 minute response to Arizona’s score ended with a two yard touchdown run by Aaron Jones on 3rd down. After a punt by each team, the Packers punter Corey Bojorquez hit a punt downed on the three… or was it? A replay clearly showed Cardinal rookie returner Rondale Moore let the ball hit his hand. Moore apparently forgot this was the NFL and cameras are placed all over the stadium that see just about everything. The Packers kicked a field goal after failing to take advantage of the gift from the four yard line. Packers led 10-7 at halftime.
The Green Bay defense supplied Rodgers and company with another present when safety Henry Black intercepted Murray at the Arizona 14. This time the Packers found the end zone on a nice catch by Randall Cobb who led the Packers with two touchdown catches. The score was 17-7, but both teams had more in their arsenal. Arizona scored another touchdown closing the score to 17-14. The Packers came right back on a 12 play, 91-yard TD drive on Cobb’s second touchdown to make the score 24-14. It was clear both defenses were wearing down. Playing a Thursday game favors a quality offense.
Once again the Cardinals drove down the field and scored a touchdown cutting Green Bay’s lead to three. The next drive should be a debate topic for most Packer fans for at least the next ten days until the Packer bus drives into Arrowhead stadium. Did the Packers score a touchdown on Aaron Jones’ push across the goal line? Was there really enough visual evidence to overturn the touchdown call on the field? Apparently the referees’ cameras see more than Fox TV’s. Should the Packers have taken a field goal on 4th down after the delay of game penalty?
Thanks to Rasul Douglas, signed 22 days before the game off the Cardinals practice squad, all those debates are moot with a heads up play that will be remembered in Packer history. The Packers also had a strong game from ILB De’Vondre Campbell, a Cardinal castoff. Douglass and Campbell had 16 tackles between them. Campbell had a sack to compliment Douglas’ game sealing pick.
Injuries to Robert Tonyan and Kylie Hill were the only damper to this Packer victory which puts the Packers in the driver seat for the best record in the NFL. Kansas City will be another tough battle but Green Bay will be rested and hopefully healthier in ten days. Let’s hope the Packers can keep this gritty streak rolling.