Game Recap: Packers Beat Cardinals 24-21

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ week eight win against the Arizona Cardinals.       

Undefeated no more. In a roller coaster NFC matchup, the Green Bay Packers (7-1, 2-0 NFC North) handed the Arizona Cardinals (7-1, 2-0 NFC West) their first loss of the season with a 24-21 win at State Farm Stadium Thursday.

Despite missing key pieces to their offense including all three of their top wide receivers – Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling – their starting center, their star cornerback and more, Green Bay still found a way to get the job done and win their seventh game in a row.  

The Packers were the first to take the field Thursday night and felt the pressure from the Cardinals defense right away. After a holding penalty on the first play of the game, Green Bay couldn’t recover and quickly went three and out.

On the opening play of the Cardinal’s drive, linebacker Rashan Gary got to star quarterback Kyler Murray for a sack, but Gary was flagged after pulling Murray down by his facemask and Arizona was awarded 15 yards and a first down. However, the d-train responded well and bounced back with three straight stops and the Cardinals had to quickly punt it back to the Packers.  

With the game back in their possession, Green Bay tried to make the most of their opportunity. After a nice catch from rookie wide receiver Amari Rodgers for a 7-yard gain on 2nd and 10, quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked deep for running back Aaron Jones on 3rd and 3. After it appeared that Jones may have made a big play, the Cardinals secondary came though with an impressive pass breakup to force their second consecutive three and out.

Despite being faced with a 1st and 20 to start their next drive due to an offensive holding call, the Cardinals still found a way to make the Packers’ defense look silly. On 3rd and 8, Murray heaved the ball deep down field to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for what was originally ruled a 61-yard touchdown.

Rookie cornerback Eric Stokes looked lost on the play and lucked out after Hopkins grabbed his facemask at Green Bay’s 6-yard line and a 15-yard penalty was enforced. However, the Cardinals wouldn’t have to wait long before finding the end zone again. After Murray rushed 1 yard for a first down on 3rd and 1, Arizona snapped the ball directly to running back Chase Edmonds who rushed up the middle untouched for 11 yards and a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.

After struggling to find anything in the passing game, the Packers put their faith in running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to build momentum on their next drive. On 2nd and 4,  Dillon rushed for 4 yards and picked up the Packers’ first, first down of the evening. Then, after a 7-yard pickup from Jones, Green Bay went back to Dillon on 2nd and 3 and he continued to help move the chains for the Packers with a 12-yard pickup.

On the next set of downs, on 3rd and 4, Arizona committed a neutral zone infraction which resulted in a 5-yard penalty and a first down for the Packers. Despite the free yards, Rodgers wanted the free play and shared his frustrations with the officials. The call must’ve motivated 12 a bit too— on the next play, he connected with wide receiver Juwann Winfree for 12 yards and a first down.

To open the second quarter, the Packers were faced with a 4th and 1 situation. And, despite forgetting about him on most fourth down plays this season, Green Bay put their trust in the quads and Dillon rushed for 2 yards and the first down. From there, Jones demonstrated his own strength and bullied his way into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

Despite the task at hand, Green Bay’s defense continued to show up against a really impressive Arizona offense. On 3rd and 11, linebacker De'Vondre Campbell came up huge for the Packers and sacked Murray for a 4-yard loss to force a big three and out.

With the ball back in their hands just 1:15 later, the Packers offense tried to find a way to respond. But, despite a 15-yard catch from tight end Robert Tonyan on 3rd and 5 and a reverse toss to Amari Rodgers for an 11-yard gain on 1st and 10, Green Bay still couldn’t move the chains enough times to make something of the opportunity.

So, the Packers turned to their trusty punter Corey Bojorquez to try and pin the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Little did they know, a gift was about to fall into their laps. Bojorquez punted the ball 38 yards to wide receiver/punt returner Rondale Moore and he muffed the catch after it grazed his fingertips. Luckily for the Packers, linebacker Ty Summers was there to make the recovery and it was Green Bay ball at Arizona’s 3-yard line.  

Despite starting on the 3-yard line, the Packers decided to pass three straight times and couldn’t get six. So, after a quick buzzkill, they turned to kicker Mason Crosby for a 21-yard field goal. His attempt was good, and the Packers took a 10-7 lead.  

From there, Green Bay’s defense continued to answer the call. Cornerback Rasual Douglas shined after an impressive pass break up on 2nd and 6 for what would’ve surely been a big gain. And, just a play later, Murray’s pass over the middle to Moore was incomplete and the Packers had one final opportunity to extend their lead before the half.

Right before the close of the half, wide receiver Randall Cobb entered the chat and moved the chains for Green Bay after a 7-yard catch on 2nd and 7. Then, on 2nd and 2, Dillon continued to be a terror for Arizona and busted his way through the d-line for a 6-yard gain. Later, Jones joined in on the fun after he rushed 10 yards up the middle to the 50 on 2nd and 10. However, the little bit of momentum the Packers started to build wasn’t enough. With just five seconds left, Rodgers threw a Hail Mary on 4th and 12 (nothing like the sweet feeling of nostalgia) but it fell incomplete.

To open up the second half, the Packers’ defense continued to play with, as Matt LaFleur would say, their piss hot. After Edmonds rushed for 4 yards on first down, defensive end (mean) Dean Lowry came up huge with a 10-yard sack. Then, on 3rd and 16, Murray’s pass intended for Moore was tipped and safety Henry Black was there to pick it off at Arizona’s 14-yard line.

And, after failing to convert on 3rd and 3 after Dillon was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, the Packers had to fight hard to make something of this game-changing opportunity. On 4th and 3, Rodgers connected with wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown for 5 yards and the first down to bring the Packers to the 2-yard line. From there, Rodgers connected with his bestie Cobb for a stunning 2-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 17-7.

The Cardinals, however, were not going to drop their first game without a fight and boy, did they keep everyone on their toes.

After an ugly first drive to open the second half, the Cardinals showcased what was arguably their best drive of the day, which stretched 81 yards over 12 plays and shaved 5:15 off the clock. Running back James Conner got the chains moving for the Cardinals after picking up 2 yards on 2nd and 1. Then, on 2nd and 2, Murray connected with wide receiver Christian Kirk for 3 yards and the first down. However, the Cardinals needed more than just two short gains. And, after converting on a 7-yard pass to wide receiver Antoine Wesley on 4th and 3 and a short pass to Edmonds on 1st and 5, they found it. On 1st and 10, Murray threw one over the middle to tight end Zach Ertz for 20 yards to bring Arizona to Green Bay’s 2-yard line. From there, Conner punched in a 2-yard score and cut the Packers’ lead to 17-14.

On the kickoff return to open the next drive, two really unfortunate injuries occurred for both teams. Packers’ rookie running back Kylin Hill and Cardinals’ running back Jonathan Ward both went down after what was just a really nasty collision on Hill’s return attempt. As a result, Hill and Ward both had to be carted off the field. According to the FOX broadcast, Hill suffered a knee injury and Ward was being evaluated for a concussion and potential neck injury. I really hope both of them are OK—sometimes we forget how scary this game can be.     

After both players were safely carted off the field, the Packers had to dig deep to try and find a response to the Cardinals’ impressive touchdown drive and wow, did they deliver. Although the play calling was questionable at times on Thursday, Matt LaFleur and company were absolutely in their bag at this moment of the game.

With a conversion on third and short from Dillon and a short pass to Jones that resulted in a 19-yard pickup, the Packers started to find some rhythm. On 2nd and 6, Rodgers looked deep over the middle and connected with Tonyan for a 33-yard gain and the first down. However, Tonyan fell down clutching the back of his knee at the end of the play when he was thrown off balance after planting his left leg. He left the game and did not return.

But, just as they did all night long, the Packers had to look to the next man to step up to make a play. This time, it was tight Josiah Deguara who helped pickup 8 yards for Green Bay before Jones rushed up the middle for a 2-yard gain on 2nd and 2 to continue moving the chains. Then, IT WAS RANDALL COBB AGAIN, this time for a 6-yard touchdown to extend the Packers’ lead to 24-14.  

Arizona proved again why they’ve been so tough to beat after they responded with yet another touchdown of their own. They just absolutely dismantled the Packers’ defense on their next drive, slowly picking them apart with key first down pickups from Edmonds, Ertz and wide receiver AJ Green. Then, on 2nd and 1, Conner was there to punch it again for the Cardinals, this time for a 9-yard rushing touchdown to cut the Packers led to just 3 at 24-21.  

With over 10 minutes left in the game, Green Bay was desperate to run the clock out as much as they could and hopefully score a touchdown in the process. However, they were successful in only one of those endeavors. After driving 74 yards down the field over 13 plays and shaving 7:22 off the clock, the Packers failed to convert on four straight plays within the Cardinals’ 5-yard line and turned it over on downs. Jones originally scored a touchdown on one of the attempts, but the officials overturned the initial ruling, and the Packers couldn’t punch it in a second time.

With 3:23 left, the Cardinals started at their own 1-yard line and refused to go down without a fight. After escaping what would’ve been a safety on first down, Murray worked his magic on 3rd and 10 and threw a pass deep over the middle to Green for a 23-yard gain. Then, on 1st and 10, he threw another deep pass, this time to Kirk for 29-yards right before the two-minute warning. To begin the two-minute drill, Arizona continued to roll. Murray connected with Moore and Kirk to help move the chains and then the Cardinals were quickly at the edge of the red zone. Then, after fumbling the snap and recovering it on 1st and 10, Murray bounced back on 2nd and 18 by connecting with Edmonds for 22 yards and the first down.

From there, it truly looked like the Packers were going to lose in heartbreaking fashion even after pulling out all the stops with so many third and fourth string guys and giving the Cardinals a run for their money. But, with 15 seconds remaining and the ball on Green Bay’s 5 yard-line, everything changed.

Murray threw a short pass to the right side of the end zone for what would’ve been a game-winning touchdown pass but, instead, the ball appeared as if it was moving in slow motion and just seemed to fall right into Douglas’ hands for the biggest play of his career: a game-sealing interception that handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season.

And, despite all the adversity, the Green Bay Packers stunned the Arizona Cardinals 24-21 in a roller coaster Thursday Night Football matchup.

 

What we learned: The Packers aren’t perfect but they’re pretty damn good

What. A. Freaking. Game.

By no means was this a perfect showing for the Packers, but they did absolutely everything they could with what little they had and are somehow leaving the state of Arizona with their seventh straight win.

There were certainly issues for Green Bay throughout the night, including clock management and red zone play calling, but they still got the job done and that’s all that matters.

With all the injuries the Packers already have, the injuries they sustained tonight, and the players on the COVID-19 list, it’s scary to think about what this team could do if they even just get a little bit healthier.  

 

What went right: AJ Dillon & Aaron Jones

AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones played grown man football on Thursday night, and I loved every second of it. Dillon led the team in rushing with 16 carries for 78 yards and Jones followed close behind him with 15 carries for 59 yards and a TD (ESPN stats).

Jones also played a key role in the receiving game (congrats Steve Perhach for being right) and led the team with 7 receptions for 51 yards (ESPN stats).

 

What went wrong: Injuries (on both teams)

Man, it was really tough to see how many guys went down with what looked like serious injuries on Thursday night. The Thursday Night game is becoming too notorious for injuries, and it really make me sick to my stomach.  

I hope everything we saw on Thursday wasn’t as serious as it looked, but it’s just sad how this continues to happen.

 

Offensive MVP: AJ Dillon

AJ Dillon was THE difference maker for the Packers in this matchup. This is the second time in his career where Green Bay was underestimated against a team (Tennessee last season), and he has showed up and absolutely delivered. Bravo.

 

Defensive MVP: Rasul Douglas

Rasul Douglas… I think I love you?

What a spectacular performance against the team he was just apart of 22 days ago. Not only did Douglas intercept Murray to seal the Packers’ win, but he also led the team in tackles on Thursday with 9 total, all of which were solo, and 2 pass deflections (ESPN stats).

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers travel to Arrowhead Stadium for a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kickoff is set for Sunday, November 7 at 4:25 p.m. EST.

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV and a podcaster with Pack-A-Day Podcast. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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8 points

Comments (7)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PewAuKeeFan's picture

October 29, 2021 at 02:50 am

Good choices for offensive and defensive MVPs. I can also make a case for Randall Cobb. But Douglas stands alone.

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fastmoving's picture

October 29, 2021 at 04:53 am

Great game and the fact that this win has not so much to do with AR12 makes it even better. A good sign that we have not peaked yet. Not even close and still get the Ws.
Is early and luck is one of the biggest wildcards in the playoffs, but we got a better chance than in the last 2 years to go all the way. Great groundgame, solid D and good o line, together with a passing game with a lot of weapons

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murf7777's picture

October 29, 2021 at 08:34 am

What makes me think you’re right is the scrappiness this team plays at. AR’s post talk states it all, they are having fun. Of course, winning does that, but I can’t help to think this team has developed great chemistry along the way. The D seems to be getting better and better with some key pickups mid year. Really, as AR stated reminiscent of the 2010 squad. Although, with a much better record so far.

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PeteK's picture

October 29, 2021 at 01:17 pm

Absolutely, we don't look as good as last season, stats are poorer, and many injuries to key players yet we are 7-1. I'm glad that I rarely bet on football and when I do it's a pittance.

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murf7777's picture

October 29, 2021 at 08:28 am

Other than the game sealing INT, Campbell’s sack was my next best, followed by Gary’s pressure that created the INT by Black. What made Campbells play so good was his discipline on the play, he didn’t over react and just rush Murray, knowing Murray can juke the best defenders in the league, he waited in the middle for Murray to make the first move, than very decisively, he darted at him and made the sack. Gary, not having Hugh stats,, is applying consistent pressure throughout this year and affecting a lot of plays.

How ironic is it that we go into AZ and beat them with AZ’s one cast off in Campbell and one PS player in Douglas. Sweet revenge by those two:)

2 points
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murf7777's picture

October 29, 2021 at 08:44 am

So, I looked up Rasul Douglas college stat. He was a late bloomer playing very little as a Junior and became a starter as a Senior for West Virginia. All he did his Senior year is lead the NCAA in INT’s with 8. Maybe we found a diamond in the rough.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 29, 2021 at 10:43 am

It's rare to get this many cast-offs from other teams (Campbell, Douglas, Bojo) that contribute this much...all in one season. Great job by the front office!

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