GLENDALE, Ariz. — Big game, anyone?
The 12-2 Cardinals and 10-4 Green Bay Packers are battling for playoff positioning here in Week 16. The Carolina Panthers lost earlier in the day, meaning a win for the Cardinals would at worst clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC but keep them alive for the top overall spot. The Packers, meanwhile, are hoping to continue their late-season surge and keep themselves in the running for that second seed.
Safety Rashad Johnson is out for the Cardinals, meaning they will be without their two starting safeties with Tyrann Mathieu sidelined with a torn ACL. Running back Andre Ellington is active, though, so we should see him mixed in some.
For the Packers, corner Sam Shields will not play, so that’s a tough break for them.
Should be a great game, so let’s get to it.
1:35 left in fourth quarter
Aaand Kerwynn Williams runs for 19 yards. Shows how much I know.
Anyway, the clock is ticking away on what is a 38-8 Cardinals win. A first-round bye has been locked up, 13 wins in a season — all sorts of good things. Going to head downstairs for some player reaction, look for plenty of stories on ArizonaSports.com.
2:00 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals forced a punt and are now trying to run out the clock with their reserves. It’s 3rd and 10 from their 15, though, so that will be difficult. Still, this game is very much in hand.
5:10 left in fourth quarter
Kerwynn Williams coughs up the football on a run, the Packers recover and advance the ball to the Green Bay 41. While this game is over, that’s not something the Cardinals wanted to see from a player who they will need to rely on some.
8:21 left in fourth quarter
The ruling on the field stands, and the Packers punt from their end zone. J.J. Nelson fair catches it at the 50, and Drew Stanton takes over at QB for the Cardinals.
8:28 left in fourth quarter
Dwight Freeney collects another sack (his third of the game) and though the refs put the ball at the one, Bruce Arians challenges that forward progress had been stopped in the end zone, which would make this a safety. He might be right. Either way, the Cardinals continue to put a hurting on the Packers.
9:56 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals move the ball well and take time off the clock, but a hands to the face call on Ted Larsen wipes out a first down pass to Jaron Brown and then an incomplete pass leads to a punt. Justin Bethel makes the tackle at the Green Bay 13, where the Scott Tolzien-led Packers will start the drive.
:04 left in third quarter
Facing a 4th and goal from the three, the Packers throw short to Davante Adams and he is wrapped up by a host of Cardinals. Arizona gets the ball back at its own two. Andre Ellington in the game at running back.
:51 left in third quarter
The Cardinals appeared to the Packers stopped again, but a pass interference on Justin Bethel gave Green Bay the ball deep in Arizona territory. It was an iffy call, and one Bruce Arians disagreed with. He explained to the refs in a not-so-subtle way he thought it was uncatchable, and earned a personal foul penalty with some interesting language (reading lips on replay). Right now it’s 2nd and goal from the 7.
3:05 left in third quarter
An Alex Okafor sack of Rodgers is wiped out when Jerraud Powers, who was also there, hits the QB in the helmet for a personal foul. However, Frostee Rucker brings Rodgers down on one play and then Dwight Freeney got him on the next, with the ball being fumbled right to Jerraud Powers, who returned it for a TD. It was Arizona’s eighth sack of the day.
4:26 left in third quarter
Cardinals don’t go anywhere as Palmer misses an open John Brown down the field for what would have likely been a TD on third down. He doesn’t miss many, but that was one. Drew Butler’s punt is fair caught at the Green Bay 11.
6:29 left in third quarter
Packers go for an onside kick. It made sense after a personal foul on the Cardinals during the touchdown meant they were kicking off from 15 yards further up the field. However, Jaron Brown was ready for it and pounced in the ball, setting the Cardinals up at their own 48. Kind of feels like one more touchdown here should officially do it.
6:31 left in third quarter
The Packers haven’t quit on this game yet, as Rodgers drives them down the field and punches it in via a 28-yard screen pass to Eddie Lacy. The two-point conversion attempt is good, and the score is 31-8 Cardinals.
9:34 left in third quarter
Poor Aaron Rodgers. Kareem Martin hits him, he fumbles, Cory Redding recovers and races 36 yards for a touchdown. Broke a tackle, too.
The score is 31-0 and this is quite a statement from the Cardinals against a team they may see again in the playoffs. Wow.
12:31 left in third quarter
A Dwight Freeney sack of Rodgers makes it 3rd and 17 from the Green Bay 2, but Rodgers hits a wide open Davante Adams deep for the first down. Rodgers is crushed by Deone Bucannon on first down and fumbles the ball, but is able to recover. It’s a seven-yard loss and the Cards’ D, minus that breakdown that led to the pass to Adams, is rolling.
14:40 left in third quarter
Packers begin their drive at the 20, pick up some yards on a Starks run but he fumbles at the end of it. D.J. Swearinger popped the ball out, Jerraud Powers recovered. First play is a nice gain to Michael Floyd, second is a 14-yard David Johnson touchdown run. So there’s that.
The PAT is good and the score is 24-0 home team.
End of first half
The Cardinals head into the half with a 17-0 lead. Not always pretty, but mostly effective. Cards 30 minutes away from a first-round bye.
:06 left in second quarter
No risk it, no biscuit. Have a biscuit, Cardinals. Palmer hits John Brown for a seven-yard touchdown, and the PAT makes the score 17-0. What an incredible turn of events.
:22 left in second quarter
Palmer hits Fitzgerald and now it’s first and goal from the Green Bay seven.
:38 left in second quarter
Palmer does a great job of moving in the pocket before finding Michael Floyd with a perfect pass for a 47-yard gain. Another pass to Floyd picks up nine, and the Cardinals have the ball at the Green Bay 24.
:57 left in second quarter
The Cardinals avoid disaster when Justin Bethel picks off Rodgers in the end zone. The pass was intended for James Jones, and it gives Arizona the ball at the 20 and maintains their two-score lead. With less than a minute and three timeouts, wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cardinals try to get some points out of this drive.
Then again, their last drive did end with a turnover, so…
1:52 left in second quarter
Wow. On first down Cardinals go with a screen pass that is intercepted by Packers DL Mike Daniels. Probably more of a good play by him than a bad one by Palmer, who may not have even seen him being covered up by some linemen. Horrid turn of events for the Cardinals, giving the Packers the ball at this spot of the field late in the half.
2:00 left in second quarter
Cardinals got the stop on third down but the Packers ran a fake punt on fourth down and got the first. A short run was followed by a pair of sacks — with Campbell getting the first and then he and Markus Golden sharing the second. The Packers actually punt this time, and the Cardinals have the ball at their own 25.
4:53 left in second quarter
Note to the Cardinals: Try not to end up in situations where Kevin Minter is covering James Jones. Anyway, the Packers are moving the ball and now face a third-and-two from their own 45. Big play coming up as a stop would get the Cardinals the ball back late in the half. Aaron Rodgers seems to finding a bit of a rhythm.
5:48 left in second quarter
Cardinals go 72 yards in nine plays, taking 5:02 off the clock but failing to punch the ball into the end zone. More red zone troubles for a team that has really been trying to get past those. Catanzaro comes on and makes a short field goal (shorter than a PAT yet worth three times as much), and Arizona’s lead is now 10-0. Not a bad drive, but no one will feel good about how it ended.
10:50 left in second quarter
Calais Campbell brings down Rodgers for a sack on third down — Packers are having trouble with No. 93 today — and though Patrick Peterson muffs the punt, Arizona recovers and takes over at their own 27.
Cardinals’ D hanging tough today, limiting big plays. Arizona’s offense seems to be waking up a bit — can they put together another scoring drive here?
14:07 left in second quarter
Cardinals come through on third down when Palmer hits an open Larry Fitzgerald for a three-yard score. Chants of “Larry, Larry” come down from the crowd in appreciation for the team’s top receiver.
Catanzaro’s PAT is good (hasn’t always been a sure thing, of late), and the Cardinals are up 7-0.
End of first quarter
Following an injury break (Packers’ B.J. Raji has since gone to the locker room) the Cardinals let the clock run out and head to the other side of the field with the score 0-0. Arizona is threatening, though, and is hoping to cash in here in the red zone. Hasn’t always been easy for them this season.
:30 left in first quarter
David Johnson gets the Cardinals to the Green Bay 10 after catching a swing pass and juking the defender out of his shoes to gain extra yards. Wow, is this guy playing well.
2:37 left in first quarter
Packers pick up a first down but Cardinals get a stop. A personal foul on Green Bay during the punt pushes the ball to the 50.
So far neither offense has really been able to get going. The Packers wasted good field position on their first drive and the Cardinals took themselves out of field goal range on their last one.
5:51 left in first quarter
Cardinals’ drive ends when Mike Iupati is beaten up the middle and Palmer is sacked. Drew Butler’s punt is downed at the Packers 4 after a great play by Brittan Golden.
7:53 left in first quarter
Cardinals get a first down on a pass to Floyd and then pick up big yardage when David Johnson takes a dump off 44 yards into Green Bay territory. The rookie is really coming on strong of late. Palmer is sacked on first down and the Cardinals have it at the Green Bay 35.
10:40 left in first quarter
Packers pick up a first down but their drive falls short after Rodgers just misses Davante Adams on a third-and-long. The punt rolls to the Arizona five, which is where Palmer and the Cardinals will go to work.
Worth noting the crowd has quite a few Packers fans in it, but has gotten loud in a pro-Cardinals way so far.
13:33 left in first quarter
The Cardinals post a rare three-and-out to start the game. A poor kickoff return, a missed connection to Floyd, a David Johnson run that went nowhere and a short pass to larry Fitzgerald did not get the job done. It was Fitzgerald’s 100th catch of the season, though.
Packers take over near midfield.
The Cardinals won the coin toss and elected to receive. Bruce Arians has often talked about wanting the ball first because he trusts Carson Palmer to lead a scoring drive and get the Cardinals an early lead.
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