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Bruce Arians on second-down play call: ‘I did call a run’

LISTEN: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals head coach

The Arizona Cardinals are one of four teams alive in pursuit of a Super Bowl 50 championship.

The Cards punched their ticket to the NFC Championship Game with a thrilling 26-20 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers at University of Phoenix Stadium that was hailed as an instant classic.

But many pundits and fans around the country are still scratching their heads over a late-game coaching decision from Arizona head coach Bruce Arians.

The Cardinals led 17-13 and faced a 2nd-and-8 from the Green Bay 22-yard line with 2:34 remaining after the Packers had called their third and final timeout. On the next play Carson Palmer threw a fade pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who was well covered by Green Bay’s Sam Shields. The pass fell incomplete and only five seconds elapsed on the play.

The Cardinals did run the ball on third down, with David Johnson picking up four yards to the Green Bay 18. Chandler Catanzaro would kick a 36-yard field goal to stretch Arizona’s lead to seven points, but many were wondering why Arians would have called for a pass play, knowing that an incompletion would leave more time on the clock for one of football’s best quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers, to engineer a comeback.

As it turned out, he did. Rodgers hit Jeff Janis on a 41-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired and the Packers forced overtime, only to see the Cardinals win it just 1:05 into the extra period.

Monday, Arians clarified the call.

“I did call a run, but (the Packers) had 10 guys up, so it was going to be a negative run,” Arians told Bickley and Marotta Monday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Larry’s one-on-one, I’ll take that all day long.”

Arians said Palmer didn’t necessarily call an audible, but had the option to check out of the original call when the Packers brought another defender into the box.

“Everybody blocked the running play, so it’s a running play, but with one-on-one out there, you know you’re going to have time to throw it, so he stepped back and threw it,” Arians said. “I’ve got no problem with that.”

The coach was a little more direct in explaining his stance on the decision after the game.

“Oh, hell no,” he said. “I never regret a call.”

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