by Dave DeLano
It was embarrassing Sunday for Cheeseheads as the Green Bay Packers were thoroughly demolished by the high-flying Arizona Cardinals by a score of 38-8. It didn’t seem to matter that Fox television billed such as the “game of the week,” or that thousands of Cheeseheads filled the University of Phoenix stadium. The Packers were just horrible. It wasn’t a nice day in the Land of Cheese.
This is not the kind of game that one would hope to witness deep into the season. In fact, this game would not be fun for Cheeseheads to watch no matter what the circumstances. It demonstrated, however, a summary of the problems which have surfaced to varying degrees all season. Coach Mike McCarthy lamented about the lack of attention to fundamentals and turnovers as the culprits for this latest turn of events. True, but this is a heck of a time to have to deal with those issues with one game remaining in the regular season.
The Packer offense was simply awful in the first half, generating only 70 total yards. The defense held the potent Cardinal offense off the scoreboard in the first quarter, but by halftime the rout was on as the Cardinals took a 17-0 lead. On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, James Starks fumbled the ball away which was quickly turned into a touchdown. Soon thereafter Aaron Rodgers fumbled, which was run back for another touchdown, which made the score 31-0. On the day, the Cardinals capitalized on all four Packer turnovers, converting them into 28 points.
The Packers’ offensive line was somewhat beaten up heading into this game and their performance during the game was horrific. Rodgers was sacked eight times on the day. Backups Don Barclay and Josh Walker were particularly awful. Lacking in pass protection, the O-line was equally ineffective in punching holes for the running game, which was figuratively stuck in the Arizona sand. Did I mention that this was a very ugly game?
It is difficult to say something positive from this stinker, but the play of defensive linemen Mike Pennel and Mike Daniels was impressive. Pennel made an awesome bull rush for a sack early in the game, muscling the Cardinals’ center on his backside. He needs to be more consistent but could be a force in the years to come. Daniels made a nice interception on an attempted screen pass but, alas, the offense could not convert it into a score.
Next week is the final game of the regular season as the Minnesota Vikings invade Lambeau. Both teams have identical records at 10-5, thus the winner next week will be the 2015 North Division champion and become the number three seed in the playoff scenario. The loser will also advance into the playoffs as the number five seed, but will have to go on the road for the first playoff game.
As lousy as the Packers played against the Cardinals, it is hard to get too optimistic about the game next week and the playoffs to follow. The Packers’ offense is playing without any rhythm whatsoever right now and the timing could not be worse. Coach McCarthy’s recent statement that the team is “right where we want to be” somehow rings hollow as I write this. Nonetheless, the football doesn’t always bounce as anticipated, so let’s stay positive and see what transpires on historic Lambeau Field Sunday night.