Packers blown out in desert by Cardinals
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Playing on the road against the 12-2 Arizona Cardinals was going to be difficult enough. Doing it without starters David Bakhtiari at left tackle and Sam Shields at cornerback Sunday afternoon turned out to be impossible for the Green Bay Packers.
Four crucial turnovers and a slew of sacks were too much for Green Bay, which lost 38-8 to Arizona.
What it means: The loss drops the Packers to 10-5 and sets up Sunday's showdown against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field for the NFC North Division title. It also means Green Bay, which clinched a playoff berth last week, won't get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Turning point: Trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, the Packers got a big break when Mike Daniels intercepted a Carson Palmer screen pass attempt deep in Cardinals' territory. Green Bay took over at Arizona's 15-yard line with 1:52 left in the first half. But two plays later, Aaron Rodgers threw an interception in the end zone to Justin Bethel with 57 seconds left in the half. On Arizona's first play, Palmer hit Michael Floyd on a catch-and-run that Floyd took 47 yards to Green Bay's 33-yard line. Floyd also somehow got out of bounds to stop the clock. Seven plays later, Palmer connected with John Brown for a 7-yard touchdown pass and a 17-0 lead entering halftime. It was a potential 14-point turnaround with less than a minute left in the first half.
Offensive line sacked: The Packers entered the game minus a starter in Bakhtiari, who was sidelined by an ankle injury. Then with 12 minutes left in the third quarter, starting right tackle Bryan Bulagawas knocked from the game with an ankle injury. That meant Don Barclay at left tackle and Josh Walker or JC Tretter at right tackle for most of the second half. That meant trouble, especially for Rodgers, who was hit numerous times and sacked eight times in the loss, including losing two fumbles that were returned for touchdowns.
Killer penalties: The Packers totaled a pedestrian 7 penalties for 59 yards, but several of them stalled offensive drives or contributed to Cardinals' scores. Facing third-and-3 on their opening drive, Josh Sitton was called for holding, leading to a punt. Late in the first quarter on punt coverage, Jeff Janis was called for a facemask penalty, giving the Cardinals the ball at midfield. Early in the second quarter, Corey Linsley was called for holding that led to another punt. Then, in the third quarter, Datone Jones was penalized for holding on a kickoff return that gave the Packers possession at its 9. A 38-yard pass from Rodgers to Davante Adams on third-and-17 on that drive was brought back 5 yards when Adams spiked the ball and was called for delay of game.