ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals have little to no answer for Packers run game in TNF loss

Oct 28, 2021, 10:48 PM | Updated: Oct 29, 2021, 7:08 am
Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown with teammates during the first hal...
Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown with teammates during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on October 28, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals knew they would see a different-looking Packers team with not one but two of Green Bay’s top two receiving threats on the shelf for Thursday Night Football.

Instead of trying to keep pace with the high-powered Cardinals offense, the Packers went a different route: Keep the ball out of quarterback Kyler Murray’s hands.

Behind an effective run game, Green Bay did just that with a 24-21 victory, handing an Arizona squad missing defensive lineman J.J. Watt its first loss of the season behind a game plan that focused on churning clock.

Entering play, Arizona had been one of the best at controlling the game, owning time of possession in all but one game this season.

But on Thursday, the Cardinals were on the opposite end of the clock, with the Packers possessing the ball for more than 37 minutes compared to just over 22 minutes for Arizona.

“They did a tremendous job with [keeping our offense off the field],” head coach Kliff Kingsbury told Cardinals reporter Paul Calvisi on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station after the game. “I thought they were really effective.

“We knew having those guys out, two of their top receivers, they would run the football and get it out quick. Thought they had a great plan and executed it well. Didn’t turn the ball over which was huge for them.”

Instead of signal caller Aaron Rodgers looking to go over the top to his favorite target in Davante Adams, the quarterback often relied on shorter throws and screen passes to move the chains. Rodgers connected on just one pass of more than 15 yards all night and didn’t see one go over 20.

And when Rodgers wasn’t dumping off short throws, the running game was there to keep the Packers moving in a positive direction.

While starting running back Aaron Jones was used more as a pass catcher, Green Bay turned to No. 2 rusher and bruiser A.J. Dillon for most of the night. The second-year back turned his second best game of the season, rushing for 78 yards on 16 carries.

Jones trailed Dillon in carries (15) and yards (59), but had a touchdown on the evening. He also paced the Packers in targets (11), receptions (7) and receiving yards (51).

As a team, Green Bay averaged 4.4 yards per carry on its way to 151 yards and the score.

“I expected us to get a heavy dose of No. 33 (Jones) and the young back’s a good player as well,” Kingsbury said of Green Bay’s tandem. “So, they had a good plan. They ran the play clock down and Aaron (Rodgers) protected the ball and got completions and they were real effective with their offense.”

Having Rodgers toss two touchdowns without a turnover can be a tough hill to climb for any opposing defense. Pair that with Green Bay’s run game on Thursday night and the chances of walking out of the stadium with a victory are bleak.

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