The Green Bay Packers, as expected, prevailed against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at Lambeau by a score of 31 – 17. It was a better performance than the previous week’s beat down of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Packers have talent on a different level than these two bottom dwellers and were prohibitive favorites in both of these contests. The triumph brings the Packers to a 6 – 3 record on the season which leaves them in pretty good position to compete for the post-season playoffs.
The rash of injuries that have plagued the 2012 Packers continued to grow in this game as core players Jordy Nelson, Bryan Bulaga and Clay Matthews III were unable to complete. The resulting shuffling of back-up players is no small task to administrate. Injuries aside, Mike McCarthy and staff had their mindset geared to getting their offense to effectively run the ball in this contest and that they did. Using a rotating running back attack, the Packers were able to crank out their best ground game of the year, combining 39 rushing and 30 passing plays which is an amazing uptick on the ground game emphasis for the pass-happy Packers.
Nonetheless, when it came down to scoring it was Aaron Rodgers and Company that lit up the scoreboard with four touchdown passes on the day, including some spectacular passes and catches from our lads in green and gold. James Jones is having a career season with zero drops this year including an incredible touchdown catch. Randall Cobb is establishing himself as an up-and-coming NFL star as he accounted for over 200 yards of total offense and just gets better and better every week. Rodgers had a self-admitted “off” day, completing only fourteen passes, but Rodgers is so good he made the difference in this game, like he often does.
The Packer defense gave up too many yards to a talent-challenged Cardinal offense but a number of the young Packer defenders are gaining experience and should benefit from that down the road. Rookie defensive lineman Mike Daniels had a nice game as did third-year lineman Mike Neal.
The play of the game came at the end of the third quarter when Rodgers hit tight end Tom Crabtree on a 72-yard touchdown pass to cement the victory. On the other hand, Jermichael Finley continues to underperform. For whatever reason, Finley just doesn’t seem to get separation from defenders like he used to. Likewise, Donald Driver no longer is getting separation and is dropping too many balls. Driver is one of my favorite Packers of all time but he is not contributing to the cause right now. Another guy no longer pulling his weight is kicker Mason Crosby, who missed his fifth field goal attempt in his last nine tries early in the game.
The bye week is next and what a welcome relief for the walking wounded at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. After a week of R & R, the Packers return to face the meat of their schedule which will determine the fate of their 2012 season. Five of their last seven games are intra-division contests. The Packer players need the bye week to heal up for the challenges to come as the weather transforms the turf in Lambeau into the frozen tundra.
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