I could see Kurt Warner’s huge passing day coming, but I didn’t see the 2nd ranked Green Bay Packers defense not being able to at least slow down the Cardinals. Instead, they were completely run over in a 51-45 overtime loss to the Cardinals in the highest scoring playoff game ever played in the NFL.
The Packers entered the game Sunday #1 in the NFL in rushing defense and they surrendered 156 yards on the ground. Green Bay was #2 in overall defense (yards allowed) and they gave up 531 total yards. Kurt Warner passed for 379 yards and five touchdowns (29 of 33) and amassed a passer rating of 154.1.
It was a great game for the viewer, unless you’re a defensive purist and couldn’t stand to watch no defense being played at all. The Packers were 21 points down in the second half, only to come back to force overtime when the Cardinals Neil Rackers missed a 34 yard field goal that would have won it for the Cardinals in regulation.
Packers defensive coordinator had no answer against Ben Roethlesberger and the Steelers earlier this season and he had no answer again yesterday as the Cardinals spread the Packers defense out and Kurt Warner effectively used three-step drops to get the ball out quickly and avoid any Packers pass rush.
Brett Favre also lit the Packers up through the air and even San Francisco put up some good numbers on the Packers in the second half by throwing the ball down the middle of the field to their tight end and the Packers struggled to come up with a solution.
The Packers did put up some big numbers in the loss. TE Jermichael Finley set a Packers playoff record with 159 yards receiving on six catches. Wide receiver Greg Jennings had a game-high 8 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished 28 of 42 for 422 yards (Packer playoff record) and 4 touchdowns for a 121.3 QB rating.
But it also needs to be pointed out that Rodgers first interception, which led to an Arizona touchdown, was a terrible decision on his part. Rodgers has been so good this season at making the right decision. His 7 interceptions going into the Arizona game is the perfect example. But he tried to make a big play on the games opening drive, instead of throwing the ball away and it proved to be costly.
Kicker Mason Crosby also missed again. He had plenty of distance on a 54 yarder, but again pushed it just right. Nobody’s going to blame the kicker for missing a 54 yarder, but had he made it, this game doesn’t see overtime.
Minus the turnovers, the Packers offense was a juggernaut again. They moved the ball with ease up and down the field. They had their faults, but this loss goes to the defense. All these lofty numbers meant nothing to 38 year old Kurt Warner and the Cardinals, who showed why they played in the Super Bowl last season.
For the Packers, the disappointment of missing out on a chance to make a deep playoff run has now set in. They’ll spend the off-season wondering about what could have or should have been.