Rodgers, Packers Continue to Impress: Winning Streak Hits 4
Many may not know that the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals are one of the oldest rivalries in pro football. The rivalry dates back to 1921 when the Cardinals franchise was based in Chicago and so does the Packers success. Green Bay has a 44-23-4 advantage all-time against the Cards and has won the last 7 regular-season meetings between the two at Lambeau. Arizona and Green Bay last met in the 2009 season when the Packers won the regular season finale in Green Bay 33-7 before falling to the Cardinals in overtime during their Wild Card matchup in the postseason the following week.
It was the highest scoring postseason game in NFL history and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers lost 45-51 after a questionable fumble by the franchise QB. Aaron Rodgers has used that moment as a learning experience and his success has been immense since the 2009 season. Rodgers success has continued this season and after this game he will become the first QB in NFL history to throw for 25+ touchdowns in the first 9 games in back-to-back seasons. Rodgers is having another tremendous season despite a plethora of injuries to many key players on offense.
Rodgers threw 3 touchdown passes in the first half, two to Randall Cobb and another to James Jones on the way to a 17-31 victory over Arizona. It is Green Bay’s 4th straight victory while the Cardinals have lost 5 straight after starting the season 4-0. Randall Cobb has been a Godsend this season, after being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Cobb has come up big for the Packers during Jennings and Nelson’s time off of the field and may make it an easier decision if GM Ted Thompson decides to let Greg leave at the end of the season. Cobb has had 5 receiving touchdowns in the last 3 games, not to mention the explosiveness he gives the team out of the backfield and in the return game.
James Jones was being shopped all offseason in hopes of the Packers landing something valuable through a trade, but his biggest value has been staying in Green Bay. Jones pulled down another unbelievable catch in the end-zone with a Cardinals defender all over him but the now sure handed WR has long forgotten about the days he spent in Rodgers’ doghouse for dropping passes. Jones touchdown reception no has him tied for the league lead with 8 TDs, despite it being his first in three weeks.
Aaron Rodgers is dangerous and he is using the weapons around him but it is kind of amazing that he is so successful with so many players missing. Rodgers hasn’t missed a beat and he added a 4th touchdown pass late in the game to seal the victory for the Packers. Once again he found TE Tom Crabtree streaking up the middle and luckily the backup had just enough speed to burst his way 72 yards into the end-zone. It was the 2nd long touchdown reception for Crabtree in just two weeks and despite the limited production from Jermichael Finley the Packers are able to attack the middle of the field.
Rodgers would finish the game 14-30 for 218 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception, adding another 33 yards on the ground. Rodgers lone interception came in the first half when Randall Cobb was unable to retain possession while on the ground and the ball popped out and into William Gay’s hands. It was just the 5th interception for Rodgers all season and he has a league leading 25 touchdown passes. Rodgers is having a great year despite missing so many players but could you imagine what this offense could do if they had players like Jennings and Nelson producing?
Jordy Nelson was questionable coming into this game against the Cards after missing last week’s game with a calf injury. Nelson did suit up and was expected to play the game in its entirety but he was sidelined early in the first quarter with an ankle injury. The Packers have been without Greg Jennings for most of the season and now they have been without Nelson for the past two weeks. Green Bay is riding a three game winning streak after starting the season 2-3 and they were hoping to enter their bye week with a 6-3 record despite missing so many high-caliber players.
The laundry list of players inactive or on the injury reserve got longer as Clay Mathews, Brian Bulaga and Jordy Nelson. The team was already without Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, Cedric Benson, John Kuhn, Derek Sherrod, Sam Shields, Nick Perry, Desmond Bishop, among others. Despite their injury woes Green Bay has found a way to win and they did so again on Sunday versus Arizona. Aaron Rodgers has put this team on his shoulders without any sign of a rushing game but that changed. For this first time 2009 the Packers rushed for more than 175 yards on the ground. They have yet to find their 100 yard rusher, but they did have 4 players with 25 or more rushing yards. Rodgers, Randall Cobb, James Starks and Alex Green all had 25+ yards, the first time they’ve had that happen since Nov. 2, 2003 at Minnesota.
Green Bay has a much needed bye next week before heading onto the road to play in Detroit against the Lions and following that with an away game against the Giants. It is the third straight season that head coach Mike McCarthy has led his team to a victory heading into an off week and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. The Packers need to get healthy if they plan on making another late season push into the playoffs, otherwise they face an incredibly uphill battle. Not to say that this team is the only one plagued by injuries, but it is hard for me to find a team with more injuries to key players than the Packers who are still successful.