GREEN BAY – The Packers had chances in all three phases to pick up a much-needed win against the Arizona Cardinals on a wet and slushy Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
However, the game-changing play never came in a disappointing 20-17 defeat.
Offensively, the Packers struggled on third down in converting only three of 14 attempts. Green Bay’s defense held the Cardinals to only 133 total passing yards, but couldn’t come up with a takeaway and yielded a big completion to Larry Fitzgerald late on third-and-23 on Arizona’s final scoring series.
The Packers still had a chance to force overtime after Aaron Rodgers led a two-minute drive down to the Arizona 31-yard line, but Mason Crosby’s 49-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired.
A game-time temperature of 34 degrees and 20 mile-an-hour winds out of the northeast were pushing kicks inside the bowl right to left during pregame warmups, but Crosby felt it shift in the second half.
“I was pretty shocked about (it), and obviously disappointed,” Crosby said. “I thought I hit a good ball. I hit it right-center, and it just drifted right with the wind. I had no indication that it was going to do that.”
Things started slow for both offenses until Davante Adams caught his 11th touchdown pass of the year when he grabbed a tiptoe 13-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-2 to put Green Bay up 7-0.
Arizona answered, but the Packers came back with an 11-play, 55-yard series that ended with Crosby nailing a 32-yard field goal to send Green Bay into halftime with the lead.
The Packers’ defense picked up back-to-back three-and-outs to start the third quarter, but the offense’s next four possessions produced only 31 total yards and all ended in punts.
Green Bay finally appeared to get the big play it was looking for when Rodgers hit a returning Randall Cobb for a 36-yard gain on third-and-11 on the first play of the fourth quarter, but it was called back due to a holding penalty.
“This is the NFL. It doesn't matter who you play,” Cobb said. “You have to play at your best, and they outplayed us.”
Defensively, the Packers held Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen (11-of-26 passing for 149 yards) and running back David Johnson (20 carries for 69 yards) in check, but Arizona did what it had to do situationally to get points on the board.
Rosen completed a 21-yard pass to Trent Sherfield on third-and-7 to set up Arizona’s first scoring drive in the second quarter, with backup running back Chase Edmonds running in an 8-yard touchdown.
With the game tied at 10 with 3:32 left in the third quarter, Rosen scrambled for 33 yards, on a play he was nearly sacked, to Green Bay’s 32-yard line. On the next play, Edmonds gained 29 yards on a carry before scoring another 8-yard touchdown to give Arizona the lead at 17-10.
In the end, 101 of Arizona’s 182 total rushing yards came on seven plays in the third quarter.
“We had moments to make plays and we didn’t,” said linebacker Blake Martinez, who led the defense with 10 tackles. “Overall, we stopped them for most of the game. I think they had two or three miscue runs that we weren’t in the right position and got out from us.”
The defense still gave Green Bay a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. Clay Matthews drew a holding call against right tackle Korey Cunningham to halt one series and allow Green Bay to tie the game on its next possession with an 8-yard Aaron Jones touchdown run.
Green Bay started fast on its next defensive stand, with Dean Lowry dropping Rosen for an 8-yard loss and his third sack in four games.
On the next play, former Cardinals safety Eddie Pleasant had a chance for an interception when Rosen inadvertently threw a pass his way, but he couldn’t corral it.
Pleasant, signed last Tuesday with injuries mounting on the back end, was thrust into action after an injury to Ibraheim Campbell. While teammates praised his performance in a pinch, Pleasant couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
“It’s terrible. I feel like that’s on me, at the end of the day,” Pleasant said. “We all know football. We would have won the game if we would’ve caught that. We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks on this team to ever play the game so, at the end of the day, it’s a tough feeling.”
Facing third-and-23 after a delay of game penalty, Rosen connected with Fitzgerald for a 32-yard completion to keep the drive moving. Green Bay eventually stopped the Cardinals at the 26 with Jaire Alexander defending against Fitzgerald on an incompletion, but Zane Gonzalez made the 44-yard field goal to go ahead.
“It’s consistency,” Lowry said. “There’s times when the defense has played well and the offense hasn’t, and the offense has played well and the defense hasn’t. I think we haven’t really played a full, complete game yet, which is tough because we’re now in Week (13). It’s one of those things that we’ve got to improve on and we’ll get back to work Wednesday.”