told you brooooo don’t bet against Aaron rodgers— timthetatman👑 (@timthetatman) October 29, 2021
The Green Bay Packers took down the last remaining undefeated team on Thursday night, as Aaron Rodgers and Co. defeated the Arizona Cardinals 24-21. Rodgers was without his top two receivers in Davante Adams and Allen Lazard due to COVID-19 protocols, but it didn't matter. His old friend Randall Cobb was able to turn back the clock, as he caught three passes for 15 yards and two touchdowns.
This game came all the way down to the very end. Facing a three-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals' defense came up big with a goal-line stand to steal back possession with just over three minutes remaining. From there, Kyler Murray got the Cardinals all the way down to the red zone, but his potential game-winning throw was picked off in the end zone by Rasul Douglas to seal the victory.
Why the Packers won
Green Bay dominated on the ground. Led by AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, the Packers outrushed the Cardinals 151-74. Jones was also the Packers' leading receiver with 51 yards on seven receptions. With Adams and Lazard out, Green Bay's passing game had a slow start before picking things up in the second half. After going just 10 of 21 passing in the first half, Rodgers went 12 of 16 passing in the second half with two touchdown passes to Cobb. Tight ends Robert Tonyan (who left the game with a lower body injury in the second half) and Josiah Deguara and Juan Winfree each came up with key receptions. With a balanced offensive attack, the Packers scored touchdowns on each of their first three second-half drives. Their most impressive drive was a 12-play, 91-yard march that ended with Rodgers' second touchdown pass to Cobb that gave Green Bay a 24-14 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Packers put consistent pressure on Murray, who was sacked twice. The unit also came up with two critical interceptions of Murray during the second half. The first pick helped the Packers increase their lead to 17-7 on Rodgers' first touchdown pass to Cobb minutes into the third quarter. Douglas' pick sealed the Packers' win in the game's final seconds.
Why the Cardinals lost
Turnovers played a critical role in the Cardinals' first loss of 2021. Rondale Moore's muffed punt set up Mason Crosby's go-ahead field goal with just over six minutes left in the first half. Henry Black's interception at the start of the second half helped stretch the Packers' lead to 10 points. Murray's second interception -- which came with the Cardinals 5 yards from the end zone with 15 seconds left -- ended the contest.
While James Conner and Chase Edmunds combined to score three touchdowns, the Cardinals ran for just 74 yards on 20 carries. Their lack of rushing success, coupled by the Packers' success on the ground, led to the Cardinals having the ball for just 22 minutes, 25 seconds. The Cardinals' offense also played a significant portion of the game without DeAndre Hopkins, who caught both of his two targets for 66 yards while dealing with a hamstring injury. Hopkins did come down with an impressive 56-yard grab that set up the game's first score, an 11-yard touchdown run by Edmunds out of the Wild Cat formation.
Missed tackles and missed defensive assignments plagued the Cardinals' defense, as the unit allowed Dillon and Jones to gain considerable yards after first contact. Arizona also failed to put much pressure on Rodgers, who was sacked just one time on 38 dropbacks. The Cardinals' defense did give its offense a chance to win the game late when it held Green Bay out of the end zone on its final possession. Devon Kennard's deflection of Rodgers' fourth-down pass gave the Cardinals the ball back at their own 1-yard line with 3:23 left. Murray quickly led the Cardinals down the field before committing his costly pick.
After having to settle for a field goal in the first half following Moore's muffed punt, the Packers decided to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Cardinals' 7-yard line following Black's interception. Rodgers hit Equanimeous St. Brown for a 5-yard gain on the play. On the next play, Rodgers eyed St. Brown on the outside (thus moving Budda Baker out of the middle of the field) before hitting Cobb down the middle for a 2-yard score. While the Cardinals countered with a pair of Conner touchdown runs, Green Bay never relinquished the lead.
Play of the game
Douglas' pick sealed the Packers' seventh straight win. He managed to make an impressive catch of Murray's pass that was intended for A.J. Green, whose 23-yard catch earlier in the drive got Arizona out of the shadow of its end zone. There appeared to be a miscommunication between Green and Murray, who has thrown at least one interception in five of Arizona's first eight games.
"I respect the way he plays. He's starting out with some incredible years he's putting together. He's so talented. Arm talent. Obviously he runs all over the place. I said, 'We'll see you in the playoffs.'" -- Aaron Rodgers to Fox Sports' Erin Andrews on what he said to Murray after the game.
The Packers will travel to Kansas City in Week 9 to face the Chiefs, who are currently sitting at 3-4 on the season entering Monday night's home game against the Giants. Arizona will head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers (2-4), who are looking to snap a four-game skid with a win in Chicago against the Bears this weekend.