Packers

Recap: Packers win Thriller in Arizona 24-21

In a battle for the first spot in the NFC, the Packers went into Arizona with a banged up wide receiver core and got a win

January 16, 2016, The Packers and Cardinals faced in one of the greatest playoffs games of all time. The Cardinals were arguably the best team in the NFC playing an injured Green Bay Packers without their top Wide Receiver as -6.5 point favorites at home. The Packers had a dramatic season where they “Ran the Table” to make the playoffs.

Today, the Packers and Cardinals played in a classic regular-season game. The Cardinals were the last undefeated team in the NFL playing an injured Green Bay Packers without their top Wide Receivers as -6.5 point favorites at home. The Packers have had a dramatic offseason where Rodgers might be playing his “Last Dance” season looking to make a Super Bowl.

Huh… this feels familiar.

The pre-game felt like this was a playoff game. This was possibly the biggest regular-season game for the Packers in years. A chance to be known as the favorite in the NFC and redemption in Arizona. All the makings for a legendary Thursday Night Game. 

1st Quarter

Immediately the Packers show their cards: the offense IS Aaron Jones. Jones being the focal point of the offense was expected with multiple receivers out. After a three and out, Corey Bojorquez kicked a 58-yard BOMB that flipped field position.

Before the game, Packer fans were afraid of Kyler running all around the Packer’s defense. Well, the Packers brought the pressure early forcing a 3 and out from the best offense in football.

After back and forth three and outs to start the game, Kyler throws a prayer to Hopkins on a third down and Eric Stokes made arguably his worst play as a Packers. Stokes either got lost or got his ankles destroyed by Hopkins on the sideline. It should’ve been a touchdown, but Hopkins blatantly grabbed the facemask of Stokes. Why? I have no idea. But the Cardinals would score right after on an Edmonds wildcat to make it 7-0

To start the next drive, Chandler Jones got close to Rodgers forcing a bad throw. Jones immediately went up to Aaron did the belt right in Rodgers’ face. That’s when I knew the Packers were going to win.

You can’t taunt the beast.

After 2 three and outs, the Packers remembered they have thunder and lightning in the backfield (Dillion and Jones). With a few good receptions from practice squad wide receiver Juwan Winfree, the Packers were left with a 4th and 1 in Arizona territory as the quarter changed. I wonder if they get it

Packers 0 – Cardinals 7

2nd Quarter 

They got it.

Because AJ Dillon is a beast with quads the size of Wisconsin. Aaron Jones comes in to match Dillon’s strength and scores a touchdown that was all heart. That was the 50th touchdown of his career, only 5 seasons in. What he has been for the Packers has been incredible.

As the Cardinals started their next drive, you could hear on the broadcast “Go Pack Go” chants throughout the stadium. It got even louder when Devondre Campbell sacked Kyler as he was trying to escape. Green Bay had constant pressure on Kyler all day, even without Zadrius Smith. 

The Packers were forced to punt. But, Arizona rookie Rondale Moore muffed the punt and changed this game. He barely touches it, but it’s enough to give the Packers great field position.

After three straight passes, they force the Packers to kick a field goal. It’s tough to tell Ty Summers on that muffed punt to pick it up and run it in, but the Packers still scored points. 

The Packers once again force a punt by the Cardinals (which really? That’s amazing). Then it was time to feed the Quadzilla. With Davante Adams out, the strategy seemed to be having Aaron Jones lined up wide. That meant AJ Dillon was going to get a ton of carries. Each carry seemed like Dillon ran over a different defender. I don’t think the Packers have had a runner like this in the 21st century. A true power back. 

But the offense stalled out at midfield and had to chuck up a Hail Mary as the half ended. The whole game I was wearing my Jeff Janis jersey, so I nearly cried that we were seeing another Hail Mary in Arizona. It wasn’t close, and the Packers went to halftime up 10-7.

Packers 10 – Cardinals 7

3rd Quarter

To start the half, the Packers kept the pass rush on, with Dean Lowry sacking Kyler. Then the next play, the Packers forced a bad throw that was intercepted by Henry Black. That gave the offense the ball in the red zone already. I mean… This defense, man. I was really scared the first few weeks, but they have been on fire for a few weeks now, even without Jaire and Za’darius. 

With great field position yet again, the offense struggled to get any yards yet again. On fourth down, the offense stayed on the field, and Rodgers threw a dart to EQ for a first. Rodgers hadn’t been able to build chemistry with his young receivers, but he has trust with EQ on that play.

This allowed Aaron on first down to throw a BEAUTY to Randell Cobb where he mossed Bryon Murphey. So glad we (Aaron Rodgers) brought Cobb back. He shows up right when we need him. Rodgers did get hit with a dirty roughing the passer on that throw, but seemed to be okay.

The Cardinals finally found momentum on offense, constantly moving the ball for short gains down the field. In the middle of the drive, Hopkins came back into the game after leaving with a hamstring injury. That’s when the nerves set in. James Connor was able to score from three yards out to cut this game to 17-14. 

After an ugly collision on the kickoff between Kylin Hill and Jonathan Ward, the offense continued to feed AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones. Rodgers found Tonyan for 33 yards to get it near the RedZone. But Tonyan landed awkwardly on his knee and was forced to leave the game. The Packers got it to 3rd and 5 at the Arizona 6 as the third quarter ended. I wonder if they get a touchdown here.

Packers 17 – Cardinals 14

4th Quarter

They got it… again.

Randall Cobb yet again was targeted in the red zone. He makes another good move of Byron Murphey and puts the Pack up 24-14, with all the momentum on their side.

Once again, the Cardinals slowly go up the field. On 2nd down at midfield, Kyler juuust missed Kirk on a deep ball that would’ve made it a three-point game at 13 minutes left. This forced a fourth down that for the second straight drive, Arizona went for it. They once again converted with a catch by newly acquired Zach Ertz. The defense looked gassed after that, giving up another touchdown run to James Conner to once again make it a one-score game (24-21).

With about 10 minutes left, the Packers had one of their best drives of the year. The offense did everything they wanted, slowly burning the clock a few yards at a time. Everyone got involved: Jones, Dillon, Winfree, EQ, and even Josiah Deguara. They took off six minutes and ended it with an Aaron Jones touchdown from one yard out. 

Except they didn’t.

 

They overturned the call on the field (for some reason), and weren’t able to score after failing on fourth down. The Packers also had to burn two timeouts to prevent delays of games. This gave the Cardinals the ball down 3 with three minutes left at the one. 

They got out of the back of their endzone with a 23-yard catch from AJ Green, then a 30-yard catch from Christan Kirk to get them in field goal range at the two-minute warning. On a 2nd and 18, Kyler would dump it off to Edmonds who got them in the red zone and later to the five-yard line with 15 seconds left.

With no timeouts, Kyler threw a fade in the corner of the endzone to AJ Green, but I think Green never was expecting the ball. Because Rasul Douglas got the game-winning interception with the biggest play of his career. 

The game seemed over for the Packers or was at least hoping the game would go to overtime. But the Packers survive to win 24-21, in the most dramatic ending in years. Wow.

After multiple dramatic postseason losses in Arizona, Rodgers got his revenge. A game for the ages. Hopefully, these two teams meet in the playoffs.

Packers Offensive MVP: AJ Dillon

With Adams, MVS, and Lazard out, the Packers needed their run game to move the ball. Aaron Jones was a wide receiver most of the game. So that meant AJ Dillon was the feature back for the game. He took advantage of the moment and feasted all game. It seemed like Dillon was falling forward three yards every play, trucking Arizona defenders all day. He only had 76 yards rushing, but he changed how the Packers played offense. A huge confidence booster game for him. 

Defensive MVP: Dean Lowry

This was the best I’ve seen the Packers defensive line in years, and Lowry has played a huge part. Clark and Lowry have been clogging the middle of the line for weeks. But today, Lowry was all over on the pass rush. He was constantly pushing Cardinals lineman towards Kyler all game and even got a sack. A big year for Dean Lowry who is coming up on a contract year in 2022.

 

As Always

Follow me on Twitter at @Logan_Winser and follow @WiSportsHeroics as well for more great Wisconsin sports content! To keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin Sports click here!

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