(Glendale, Az) It's been a while since the game ended but just about everyone is still trying to process what they witnessed. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime in the NFC Wild Card game here at University of Phoenix Stadium. It was the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history with 96 points, there was over 1000 yards of offense with 9 touchdown passes, yet it was a defensive play that decided it. On the first series of OT, Michael Adams came on a blitz and hit Aaron Rodgers who lost the ball. He actually kicked it up in the air before it hit the ground and it was snatched by Karlos Dansby who raced 17 yards untouched for the game winning score 78 seconds into the extra period. Kurt Warner tossed five scoring passes, as the Cards built several big leads only to see the Packers roar back with 35 second half points. Rodgers' first playoff pass was not a good one. On the opening series, he forced a ball downfield and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted, setting up a Tim Hightower one yard run for an early 7-0 Arizona lead. Two snaps after the kickoff, Donald Driver was stripped by Dansby and Allen Branch recovered at the 22. Warner hit Early Doucette on a 15 yard touchdown and the Cards jumped on the Pack 14-0. The lead reached 17 before Rodgers scored on a sneak and Mason Crosby made a field goal and it was 24-10 at intermission. That's when the fireworks began. To open the second half, Larry Fitzgerald got loose over the middle to score on a 33 yard pass making it 31-10 Arizona. Rodgers responded leading an 80 yard drive in 10 plays, finding Greg Jennings from 6 yards out as he made an incredible one handed scoring catch. The Packers caught the Cards napping as Crosby executed a perfect onside kick, recovered by Brandon Underwood. 8 players later, Rodger scrambled to find Jordy Nelson for a 10 yard touchdown and the game was on at 31-24. Beanie Wells ripped off a 42 yard run to set up another spectacular play. With Warner under pressure he wobbled a ball to the end zone and Fitzgerald laid out for the 11 yard scoring catch. Down 14, Rodgers answered again. On 4th and 5 from the Arizona 30, he found James Jones for the first down and when he slipped a tackle, raced in for the score. The Packers defense finally got a stop to force a shanked 26 yard punt. Jeremichael Finley gained 38 on first down, Donald Driver juked a defender after the catch for 28 more and John Kuhn smashed over from the one to tie the score. Warner just kept firing. He completed 29 of 33 passes on the day for 379 yards and a passer rating of 154.1 His 5th scoring pass covered 17 yards to Steve Breaston making it 45-38 with just under five minutes left. Jennings had another highlight catch on the sideline to set up Spencer Havner's 11 yard touchdown to even it at 45 just inside the 2 minute warning. Warner led the Cards to the Packers 16 but with :14 to play, Neil Rackers badly jerked a 34 yard field goal try wide left and it was on to overtime. Just like they had to open the game, the Packers called tails and it came up their way. On the first snap of the extra period, Jennings badly beat Antrel Rolle down the middle but Rodgers just missed what could have been an 80 yard, game winning play. Two snaps later disaster struck and Arizona lived to see another day.
I've never seen two secondaries get torn apart like this as nearly every receiver made an acrobatic catch. Rodger smashed the team's playoff record with 422 passing yards. Finley also set a record with 159 receiving yards on only 6 catches. Ultimately, the Packers were done in by a couple of factors that had gone their way all season. They lost the turnover battle (2-1) and the league's top ranked rushing defense gave up 156 yards on the ground. Yes it was a bitter pill to swallow but it was a gallant finish to a season that had the Pack return to the playoffs.