Cardinals Win Game Of The Year Over Packers: Instant Observations


The stars were out in Glendale, as the Arizona Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers, 26-20 in overtime.

There’s always hyperbole around playoff time, but it’s almost impossible to imagine seeing a better football game.

“It was a game of big plays and Arizona made one more than we did,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said.

Big plays?  This game had plenty.

Arizona took the lead late in the fourth quarter on nine-yard pass from Carson Palmer which ricocheted off Larry Fitzgerald’s hands and into the arms of Michael Floyd.

That should have been the most improbable play.  Not even close.

How about a 60-yard Hail Mary from Aaron Rodgers while fading away, which proved to not be the biggest play?

The biggest play was the first play from scrimmage in overtime, as future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald found himself wide open and broke numerous tackles on a 75-yard catch and run to open overtime.  He would score two plays later on a shovel pass from Carson Palmer to win the game.

“I just wanted to make a play for my team,” Fitzgerald said after a game where he finished with eight catches for 176 yards an a touchdown.  “We had ups and downs all year and I just wanted to make a play.”

How about some coaching mistakes?

This game had plenty.  Mike McCarthy’s play-calling was poor for much of the game and the way Green Bay handled their final drive left Aaron Rodgers needing a miracle to send the game in overtime.  Fortunately for McCarthy, he has Rodgers who delivered the miracle.

McCarthy also lost a second-half challenge on a 12-yard completion by Larry Fitzgerald, costing his team a time out.

Rodgers may not have had time for the Hail Mary if Arizona head coach Bruce Arians didn’t order a throw on second down when they should have been running out the clock.  That gave Rodgers an extra 40 seconds to work with.

Observations going forward:


  • Carson Palmer is going to have to take better care of the football next week regardless of who wins the Seattle-Carolina game.  He threw two interceptions and he could have had a couple more.
  • The Cardinals secondary allowed too many big plays and they made Eddie Lacy look like a good running back again.
  • Larry Fitzgerald is an unbelievable football player and you can only imagine how great his numbers would look if he didn’t play more than half of his career with horrible quarterbacks.
  • Arizona struggled with Aaron Rodgers’ mobility and that will be an even bigger issue next week as Russell Wilson and Cam Newton are probably the two most mobile quarterbacks in football.
  • Justin Bethel is going to the Pro Bowl thanks to his special teams play, obviously not for his coverage.
  • It’s going to be difficult to depend on broken coverages and tipped ball touchdowns to win two weeks in a row and they’ll be playing a much better football team.


  • Green Bay may have found their next really good, young receiver in Jeff Janis.  He was a monster on Saturday night with seven catches for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the Hail Mary catch.
  • The Packers suffered a big blow when Randall Cobb went down on his circus catch in the first quarter.  Janis stepped up, but they would have been in better shape with Cobb on the field as well.
  • The offensive line did a really nice job against a heavy-blitzing team with a pretty good defensive line.
  • Aaron Rodgers is by far the most talented quarterback in football.  It will be exciting to see him next year with Cobb, Janis and a presumably healthy Jordy Nelson.
  • The Packers defense played a wonderful game.  Mike Daniels is a star and their secondary has a lot of good, young players.  Green Bay should be a Super Bowl favorite next year.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.