The Green Bay Packers 2009 season came to a crushing end in the Valley of the Sun last Sunday where the Arizona Cardinals pulled out a victory in overtime by a score of 51– 45. The game provided unbelievable drama and turned out to be the highest scoring game in NFL post-season history. Sadly, the game ended on a freakish fumble play in which a penalty should have been called for a facemask infraction on the Cardinals. But it was not, and now Cheeseheads have a long off-season to mull over this tough loss.
It was a nightmarish start as the Packers turned the ball over on two of their first three plays from scrimmage which spotted the Cardinals a 14 – 0 lead. The Cardinals out-muscled the Packers badly on both sides of the line of scrimmage during the first half. All-pro Charles Woodson stripped a ball from a Cardinal receiver in the second quarter which led to the Pack’s single touchdown in the first half, at which time the Packers were down 24 – 10.
Things got worse to start the second half when the Cardinals marched right down the field on a 6-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to give the Cards a seemingly insurmountable lead of 31 – 10. To the credit of the players the Packers never gave up and launched an incredible comeback. Aaron Rodgers was spectacular on the day completing passes for four touchdowns and 422 yards. Unfortunately, Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner was almost perfect. Warner carved up the Packer defense with five touchdowns and the Packers could not find a counter-remedy for his effectiveness.
Space in this column does not allow a full account of all the drama in this game as the respective offenses racked up the yards in the second half. When it was all said and done the two teams had incredibly scored 96 points, 1024 total yards, and 62 first downs.
With just short of two minutes remaining in the game, Rodgers hit Spencer Havner with his final touchdown pass to tie the game at 45 – 45. Warner responded by driving the Cards back down the field, but a chip-shot field goal was missed sending the game into overtime. The Packers won the sudden-death overtime coin flip and it appeared that a miracle was in the making… and it almost happened but Rodgers missed a wide open Greg Jennings on what would have been a sure 80-yard touchdown.
Instead, on the next play Daryn Colledge committed a holding penalty which negated a first down and then the freakish play ended the game. It was a whale of a game to watch but the painful ending will not be forgotten soon.
Cheeseheads have a bitter pill to swallow and the hollow note that the NFL will likely write to Mike McCarthy acknowledging the officials’ missed face mask call on the last play isn’t going to assuage anything. The process of reviewing the season now begins as does the preparation for the next. On a positive note, the 2009 Packers improved greatly over the season. They have a very talented young core of players to build upon and Cheeseheads have a lot to look forward to in the future.