Errors pile up for Packers in a stunning loss to Cardinals
GREEN BAY – Mason Crosby looked down at JK Scott, his right hand motioning from right to left.
He couldn’t believe it. The ball stayed right. Too right.
“I thought I hit a good ball,” Crosby said. “Hit it right-center and it just drifted right with the wind. I had no indication that it was going to do that.”
Crosby’s missed 49-yard field goal as time expired that could have sent the Green Bay Packers to overtime with the Arizona Cardinals was the conclusion of a tortuous litany of errors that plagued all three phases of the team in a stunning 20-17 loss at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
According to Crosby, all through warmups and the game itself the wind blew right to left in the north end zone. It had done so a play earlier, when Marquez Valdes-Scantling said Aaron Rodgers’ pass to him to win the game rode a gust out of reach and out of play.
Defensive back Tramon Williams tersely said there was no way to pinpoint the reason for the loss, to hang it on one thing. It’s a statement true most weeks, win or lose, but Sunday felt different in that regard.
“That was a theme of the game — things that could have went our way didn’t go our way,” defensive lineman Dean Lowry said.
And if it could happen, it did happen, and it happened often.
“You guys watched the game — it was a lot of things that didn’t go well,” Valdes-Scantling said. “It’s not one specific thing that we didn’t do right. It was a multitude of things. We just gotta be better.”
There were off-target throws by Rodgers and drops by Valdes-Scantling, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb.
There were game-ending injuries to the knees of right guard Byron Bell and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
There was an unpenalized hit to the head on Rodgers that would have pushed the ball to the Arizona seven-yard line at the end of the first half when instead the Packers had to settle for a field goal.
Normally sure-tackling linebacker Antonio Morrison sized up Arizona running back Chase Edmonds, who had fallen, and Morrison whiffed to allow a first down. The Cardinals would score a touchdown on that drive.
There was Lowry flying over the top of Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen, and Rosen somehow slipping out of the 296-pound defensive lineman’s grasp and stumbling down the field for 33 yards — and then fumbling out of bounds to retain possession.
“I went for the ball there,” Lowry said. “I know he stepped up there at the very last second. I tried to get my left arm around him but he was pretty slippery, stepped up. That’s a play I want to take back, especially because it was a nice move to get to him. That’s one of the plays that could have helped change (the game).”
There was a hold on backup right tackle Jason Spriggs that negated a 36-yard completion from Rodgers to Cobb on third-and-11, which led to a punt.
“It sucks,” Cobb said of the penalty. “Any time we have big plays called back, it puts us in a bad situation.”
Valdes-Scantling fell in the open field when it looked like he had an alley to the end zone to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. The Packers would eventually do that, but it would take seven more plays and nearly five more minutes.
“I looked back at a defender that was to my right and I just lost my footing,” the Packers receiver said. “There was nothing else after that. It is what it is. (The footing) wasn’t too bad. That was just me. That was all me.”
Safety Eddie Pleasant, signed Wednesday for depth, dropped an interception with about five minutes left in the game. Then on the next play, Larry Fitzgerald scooped up a low throw despite tight coverage from Pleasant for a 32-yard gain on third-and-23 to propel the Cardinals to the eventual game-winning field goal.
“Man, obviously everybody knows what it was,” Pleasant said of his dropped interception. “Catch that pass, we win the game. I feel like that’s on me.”
The Packers did have some positive moments, the highlight being Rodgers finding Adams for 19 yards on a vintage play that displayed all that was great about either player, from Rodgers’ pocket presence and quick feet to Adams’ hands and sideline presence. Aaron Jones showed speed to power in running over Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick for an 8-yard touchdown after that to tie the game.
But at this juncture of the season, with so much on the line and the team seemingly incapable of making its own breaks, the Packers needed some to go their way Sunday. For nearly the entire game, that was not the case — and the Packers now can only hope to salvage a winning record at best with four games left.
“There’s a lot of moments here and there where you look at given plays where communication was wrong, things weren’t right where we needed to be, and overall just not making the plays when it comes to you,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “That’s the toughest point. And it hurts the most, because you do it so consistently throughout the game. I think maybe 90 percent of the game we were in the right spot, we did the right thing, the exact thing we needed to. And they made an amazing catch, amazing play, amazing scramble, or we just weren’t locked in enough on that given play.”