Simply put, the Packers let one get away from them Sunday amid Tempe's sweltering Sun Devil Stadium, where the temperature registered 102 degrees at kickoff, tying the record for the highest game-time reading the Green and Gold have encountered in their 84-year history.
It (102) matched the temperature at kickoff for the Packers' game against the Chargers at San Diego on Sept. 24, 1978, a contest Green Bay went on to win, 24-3, despite settling for 147 net yards on offense.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman, while acknowledging that it had, indeed, been hot in Sun Devil Stadium, insisted that the heat was a non-factor in the Packers' 20-13 loss to the Cardinals.
"The heat had nothing to do with it," Sherman asserted. "They played better than we did. They made the plays and we didn't."
The biggest play the Cardinals made, as it turned out, was in the closing seconds of the game when, with the Packers at the Arizona 7-yard line, Arizona safety Dexter Jackson picked off a Brett Favre pass -- intended for tight end Bubba Franks -- seven yards deep in the end zone and engineered a 22-yard runback to the 15, ending Green Bay's hopes of either winning the game with a two-point conversion or squaring the score and forcing the game into overtime.
Though Jackson's "pick" technically settled the issue, the Packers might actually have lost the game in the third quarter, in which they permitted the Cardinals to dominate. Arizona, taking the second half kickoff and driving 62 yards in 13 plays to set up a 37-yard Bill Gramatica field goal that gave the Big Red a 13-10 lead, controlled the football for 11 minutes and 44 seconds in that third period.
The Packers, meanwhile, had the leather for only 6 plays and 2 minutes and 16 seconds in the period.
Overall, the Cardinals had a substantial advantage in time of possession, 33 minutes and 6 seconds to the Packers' 26 minutes and 54 seconds.
The Packers' defense also contributed to the Green and Gold's downfall - after Ryan Longwell had forged a 13-13 tie with a 40-yard field goal just under 4 minutes into the fourth quarter.
Following the kickoff, the Cardinals were allowed to drive 68 yards to what proved to be the eventual winning touchdown - with the aid of a 28-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Al Harris.
Cardinals quarterback Jeff Blake finished the push with a one-yard pass to fullback James Hodgins in the right corner of the end zone and Gramatica closed out the day's scoring with his second conversion.
With reference to the record heat, the Packers made a sweeping effort to deal with the problem, using screens and cooling equipment on the sidelines, employing long tubes containing cool air that they inserted down the front or back of their uniforms, as well. They also were continuously re-hydrating with liquids and, in the cramped locker room, also cooled off before the game and at halftime with the aid of a 5-ton room air conditioner.
Pepper Burruss, the Packers' head trainer, sad, "We had triple the amount of cooling on the sidelined that we normally would have had."
THE FAVRE FILE: Quarterback Brett Favre began the day in a fashion that set statisticians checking the Packers record book, completing his first 10 passes of the game and extending ins consecutive-completion streak to 14 before missing fire on a throw to Donald Driver early in the second quarter.
With the 14 in a row, Favre tied his career high but fell short of the club record, 18, shared by Lynn Dickey and Don Majkowski.
Overall, Favre deserved a better fate. Emerging from the contest with a highly respectable 88.6 passer rating, he completed 23 of 33 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown, with the one, last-minute interception.
His touchdown pass, a 4-yard strike to tight end Dave Martin to tie the score for the first time, in the second quarter, was the 318th of his distinguished career, leaving him only 24 behind Frank Tarkenton (342), second on pro football's all-time list to Dan Marino (420).
THE GREEN FILE: Running back Ahman Green surfaced as the team' s leading rusher with 53 hard-earned yards (he averaged a modest 2.5 yards for 21 attempts) and also as the Packers' leading receiver with 6 catches for 43 yards.
Green also scaled a new plateau as a receiver. He caught the 200th pass of his career in the second quarter, becoming only the 17th player in Packers annals - and just the fifth running back - to catch 200 passes in a career.
The former Nebraska Cornhusker, who has rushed for 4,068 yards as a Packer, needs 130 more to surpass Tony Canadeo (4,197) who currently holds third place on the team's all-time list.
THE NICK BARNETT FILE: As he was in last week's victory over Detroit, Nick Barnett again was a bristling defensive standout, pacing his platoon with 15 tackles, his second interception in as many games, and 2 passes defensed.
Barnett also threw the redoubtable Emmitt Smith for a 2-yard loss on one of his 10 solo tackles and later flattened Smith for no gain on another.
Barnett thus has amassed 34 tackles in his first three NFL games, having harvested 5 in the opener against Minnesota and 14 (12 of them unassisted) against Detroit a week later.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S COMMENTS:
(on if the Packers 'overlooked' Arizona) "Absolutely not. In this league, as I told the players last night, the greatest challenge that we have every week is to play to the very best of our ability, regardless of who we play, when we play, where we play, what time we play. There's absolutely no looking forward to next week in this league. If you look forward to the next week, this is what happens to you. But we didn't do that. That's not why we lost. We lost because they played better than we did. Their backs were against the wall, they came out and made the plays they needed to make. I take my hat off to them and what they accomplished today."
(on why Tony Fisher played in place of Najeh Davenport) "The fumbles last week were a disappointment to me. He's going to have to prove to me that that's not going to be a part of it. In this game I thought turnovers were going to be a factor. They were. In the first quarter we turned the ball over and it resulted in points for them."
(on pass defense) "We didn't cover very well. It did appear to me that a lot of crossing routes over the middle, our underneath coverage wasn't deep enough or our deep coverage was too deep. And we did not drive hard on the crossing routes."
(on pass interference call charged to Al Harris) "I felt it was not catchable."
(on interception to end the game) "This game isn't about the last play. There were so many other plays we could have, should have made in this game that we didn't make - both sides of the ball. This game does not come down to that play. Unfortunately, being our quarterback, (Brett Favre is) on the field, the last one to touch the ball. They made a play. When he let it go, I thought he had a window there from the sideline. That window closed. They made the play on the ball. Interception. We were going to go for 2 if we got the touchdown and hopefully make that."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Quarterback Brett Favre: (on the game's finish, after starting out 10-10) "I thought I threw the ball and made good decisions all day. It is a tough way to end. First and foremost I tip my hat to Arizona. They played an outstanding game. They were better than us today. But to look at it from our side, we felt like this was a game we should win and I still feel that way. I'm not taking anything away from Arizona. They held on and held on...and I knew when we got to the fourth quarter and the game was close, there wasn't a whole lot of activity, that was all they needed. It was a big boost for them."
Linebacker Nick Barnett: (on heat that reached 106 degrees) "It was hot, but I don't think that had any factor in the way we played. We drank a lot of water and we had the little fan things going. The heat didn't bother me at all. I don't think it bothered anybody out there. We just didn't play up to our capability today."
Linebacker Na'il Diggs: (on the game) "I think we came out a little flat. I don't think we came out with the spark we had last week, that's for sure. We could have been a hell of a lot more explosive. As far as assignments, we were blowing them left and right. We weren't executing anything well as far as defense goes. I could go on and on. The bottom line is we didn't really come out and play like we're supposed to."
Wide Receiver Robert Ferguson: (on if team can climb out of 1-2 hole) "It's a hole that we have to dig out of. We have no choice. One-and-two is not what we expected, not what we dreamed about, it's not what we worked for, but at the same time, we definitely can dig ourselves out of this hole."
(on the loss) "It's always difficult when you lose a game. I don't know if we laid an egg or not, but it's always disappointing to lose a game."
Safety Darren Sharper: (on the loss) "It's embarrassing. That's the word I want to use, because we're a better team than them. But they beat us today and it's kind of embarrassing to come out here and lose."
(on if such embarrassment can be a motivator) "We were embarrassed the first week, came back and played better the second week. But you can't keep getting embarrassed and come back and expect to play well. You're going to end up 8-8 if you do it like that."
(on if he can call the Packers a better than 'ordinary' team) "Yes, I can. We're not playing that way, but I can say we're better. Until we get out there and prove it, I don't think anyone else can say it, but inside the locker room we know we're a better team. Right now we're not playing very good football."
Guard Mike Wahle: (on if the Packers looked past the Cardinals) "I would hope that we didn't overlook them. I can't speak for everybody. We knew coming in that they were a hungry football team. It's very, very frustrating to know that we got outplayed today."
-Sunday's loss ended a four-game Packers winning streak in their series with the Cardinals.
-It also was the Big Red's first win against Green Bay since 1985, when the Cardinals were based in St. Louis and prevailed, 43-28.
-The Packers still own a substantial lead in the series. They have won 41 of the 67 meetings, the Cardinals now have won 22, and there have been 4 ties.
-The temperature was reported to have reached 106 degrees at Sky Harbor Airport in the Phoenix area during the third quarter - the highest temperature at which the Packers have performed on a football field in their history. The 106 reading set a new Phoenix record for the date, eclipsing the 105 previously recorded on Sept. 21 in both 1949 and 1984.
-David Martin opened Sunday's game as a second tight end, replacing fullback William Henderson in the starting lineup.
Martin later had to be taken to the locker room for an I. V. after suffering heat cramps.
-Long snapper Rob Davis pulled off one of the afternoon's most enterprising special teams maneuvers, racing downfield to down a Josh Bidwell punt at the Arizona 2-yard line during the third quarter - at a time when the Cardinals led, 13-10.
-Punt returner Antonio Chatman also weighed in with one of the more valuable kamikaze efforts, returning Scott Player's 58-yard punt 33 yards to the Green Bay 41, setting the stage for Ryan Longwell's game-tying 40-yard field goal 8 plays later.
The 33-yarder was Chatman's longest return of the season and thus the longest of his young NFL career.
-Wide receiver Donald Driver, making his first game appearance since suffering a neck strain in the season opener against Minnesota, caught 2 passes for 12 yards in his return to action.
-Michael Hawthorne, the former Saints safety signed last week as a free agent, likewise made a special teams contribution, streaking downfield to limit Arizona returner Josh Scobey to a 12-yard runback - the shortest of the afternoon - on the second half kickoff.
-Packers inactives Sunday included offensive tackle Brennan Curtin, tight end Wesley Walls, running back Nick Luchey, wide receiver Chris Jackson, defensive end/tackle Aaron Kampman, defensive backs Curtis Fuller and Derek Combs and Designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall.