Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by Arizona
Cardinals outside linebacker Alex Okafor (57) during the second
half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in
GLENDALE, Ariz. —
The Arizona Cardinals flattened Aaron
Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
That makes it nine straight wins for the Cardinals, who think
they're still gaining steam.
"You want to play your best ball at the end of the season,"
Arizona defensive lineman Calais Campbell said, "and I think this is
the best game we've played."
The Cardinals sacked Rodgers eight times and returned two of his
fumbles for touchdowns in a dominant 38-8 victory.
Carson Palmer threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns for the
Cardinals (13-2). The winning streak is the franchise's longest
since the 1948 Chicago Cardinals won 10 in a row.
Green Bay was without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari with
an injury and lost starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga with an ankle
injury during the game.
So the Packers (10-5) were in no position to slow the rout.
"They were very aggressive to the line of scrimmage," Green Bay
coach Mike McCarthy said. "They played very well and took advantage
In all, Packers quarterbacks were sacked nine times in their most
one-sided loss of the season. Dwight Freeney had three and Campbell
2 1/2. Cory Redding rambled 36 yards with one of the fumbles for a
score, Jerraud Powers took another 5 yards for a touchdown.
The Packers (10-5) have a half-game lead over Minnesota in the
NFC North with the Vikings facing the New York Giants on Sunday
Green Bay is home against Minnesota in its regular-season finale
"This was a playoff-style game and we played terrible," Rodgers
said, "but we have won a lot of games here. When you play long
enough you are going to be on the wrong side at times, but I am
confident that we have guys and myself that, when it matters for all
the marbles, guys will show up."
The nine sacks were the most for the Cardinals since they had 10
against Philadelphia on Dec. 7, 1986, two years before the franchise
moved to Arizona.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by Arizona
Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) during the second half.
Arizona clinched at least the No. 2
playoff seed in the NFC. They still can take the No. 1 seed with a
win over Seattle and a Carolina loss to Tampa Bay next week.
"We still really haven't done anything other than get a bye,"
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "You don't get rings for byes;
you only get T-shirts and hats."
Palmer completed 18 of 27 passes and was intercepted once. Michael
Floyd caught six passes for 111 yards for the Cardinals, who entered
the game with the NFL's No. 1-ranked offense.
Rodgers was 15 for 28 for 151 yards and a touchdown with one
The game was close until a big reversal of fortune in the final
minute of the first half.
With Arizona leading 10-0, Palmer attempted to lob a screen pass to
David Johnson near the line of scrimmage but Mike Daniels, the
Packers' 6-foot, 310-pound defensive tackle, intercepted and Green
Bay had the ball on the Arizona 15.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) fumbles as he is sacked
by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (20) during
the second half.
But on third-and-goal at the 10, Justin
Bethel stepped in front of intended receiver James Jones and
intercepted the pass in the end zone. Rodgers' seventh interception
of the season gave the Cardinals the ball at the 20 with 57 seconds
A 47-yard pass play to Floyd advanced the ball to the 33 and two
more completions, plus a defensive holding call, set up Palmer's
7-yard scoring pass to John Brown, putting Arizona ahead 17-0.
Things just got worse for the Packers from there.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) greets Green Bay Packers
quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) after the game.
On the first play from scrimmage in the
second half, Green Bay's James Starks fumbled and Powers recovered
at the Packers 28. Palmer threw 14 yards to Floyd, then Johnson ran
14 yards for a score to make it 24-0.
The 6-foot-4, 318-pound Redding's TD made it 31-0.
Notes: Freeney made an extra $300,000 in incentives with his
three sacks. ... Arizona was without both of its usual starting
safeties. Rashad Johnson missed his second game in a row with an
ankle injury after being listed as questionable. Of course, Tyrann
Mathieu is out for the season with a torn ACL. ... The Packers
didn't have cornerback Sam Shields (concussion). ... Palmer had to
wear a hula dancer outfit for a time pregame for losing a bet in a
weekly accuracy competition on Friday.
Packers fall flat in NFC
showdown, lose 38-8 to Cardinals
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Aaron Rodgers
dropped back and cocked his arm, ready to throw the ball downfield.
Instead of flinging to his intended target, the Green Bay
quarterback was flung to the ground, causing the ball to break loose
from his grip.
Arizona defensive lineman Cory Redding scooped it up, tossed Packers
running back Eddie Lacy to the ground and rumbled 36 yards for a
Another big game, another big letdown for the Packers.
Rodgers was sacked eight teams, had two fumbles returned for
touchdowns and threw an interception in the end zone, sending the
Packers to a disheartening 38-8 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.
"We are professionals. We have to hold ourselves to a higher
standard and play better. Everybody has to play better," said
Rodgers, who threw for 151 yards and a touchdown on 15-of-28
The Packers (10-5) had seemed to gather themselves over the past
month, winning three straight after a stretch of four losses in five
games that started with a blowout by Denver on Nov. 1.
Green Bay came into Sunday's game with a slight hope of earning a
first-round bye in the playoffs, but it would have to start with a
win over the Cardinals.
The Packers never really had a chance, unable to protect their
quarterbacks behind an injury-riddled offensive line.
Taking advantage of Green Bay's shoddy O-line, Arizona (13-2) had
nine sacks, its most since 1986 and third-most in team history.
Three of those were by resurgent veteran Dwight Freeney and Calais
Campbell had 2 1/2.
Instead of the Packers surging toward the playoffs, it's the
Cardinals with the momentum after their ninth straight win clinched
a first-round playoff bye.
"Our guys were just causing havoc," said cornerback Jerraud Powers,
who had Arizona's second defensive touchdown.
The Packers had a hard time stopping it, right from the start.
Without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle) to protect him,
Rodgers was sacked three times in the first half and threw for 58
yards while under constant pressure.
Green Bay's ground game did little to take the pressure off, its
longest gain a 7-yard run by punter Tim Masthay on a fake.
Despite everything that went wrong, the Packers appeared to gain a
spark just before halftime, when defensive tackle Mike Daniels
intercepted Carson Palmer's screen pass and rumbled to the Arizona
Instead of capitalizing on the Cardinals' first turnover in five
games, Green Bay gave it right back when Rodgers threw a ball into
the end zone that Justin Bethel intercepted.
The Packers compounded Rodgers' seventh interception of the season
by allowing Michael Floyd to break free for a 47-yard reception on
the next play. Palmer followed with a 7-yard touchdown pass to John
Brown that put the Cardinals up 17-0 at halftime.
"That was a huge swing," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
It got worse quickly for the Packers in the second half.
James Starks fumbled on Green Bay's first play, Arizona recovered at
the Packers 28-yard line and David Johnson ran in for a 14-yard
touchdown two plays later.
The Packers continued to have trouble protecting Rodgers and he
started losing the ball.
The first fumble came on Kareem Martin's arm-flinging sack that led
to Redding's touchdown.
After a 28-yard touchdown pass to Lacy, Rodgers found himself on the
ground again, this time in the hands of Freeney. He lost the ball
again, Powers grabbed it out of midair and scored on a 7-yard
touchdown to put the Cardinals up 38-8.
Green Bay pulled Rodgers with about 10 minutes left in the fourth
quarter, its disaster in the desert complete.
"We have a standard we have set around here for a long time and we
just haven't lived up to it consistently," Rodgers said.