It was supposed to be easier.
Going into this game, Arizona was the clear favorite. They were the more talented team, they were well-rested, and they were playing at home. They’d also trounced Green Bay in the regular season in such a convincing fashion that it took the Packers a few games to even look like a playoff team again. On paper, it looked easy. But games are not played on paper, no. They’re played by real people. That’s both the good thing and the bad thing.
You see, those people can disappoint you, just as they can exceed your expectations. In a way, this game was about the Arizona Cardinals disappointing us, and the Green Bay Packers exceeding our expectations. In the end, however, there were no last-minute Aaron Rodgers heroics. It’s the end of the line for the Packers. Seeding prevails. The Arizona Cardinals advance to the NFC Championship game.
But Green Bay sure gave them a run for their money. Especially in the final minutes (that didn’t turn out to be the final minutes).
Look, when you have two minutes on the clock and no timeouts, most of the time, the game is over. Even when you have a good quarterback. Running the hurry-up offense is a tricky thing that requires not only talent, but cold blood. Not all quarterbacks can do it.
Aaron Rodgers can.
The Arizona Cardinals made it. They survived. Whether it was luck, a good defense, Larry Fitzgerald, great play-calling, or whatever, it’s all done. They won the game. But don’t tell me they weren’t at the brink of a heart attack at the end. Because I was, and I’m not even a Cardinals fan.
If we were to make an NFL movie and put that Hail Mary, the coin not flipping and then that Larry Fitzgerald play at the end of the game, my movie would be a flop. Everyone would consider it far-fetched. Because I swear, what happened at the end of that game was about as crazy as it comes.
Had the Packers won this game I would have titled this review “Everything is Aaron Rodgers and nothing hurts.” They didn’t, but boy, as long as Rodgers is the quarterback, it will be hard to count the Packers out of anything.
What does this win mean for the Cardinals going forward? Well, it’s always better to win the close games than to lose them, that’s for sure, but the Cardinals can’t exactly be feeling good about themselves. After all, Carson Palmer looked average, the offense couldn’t get any rhythm, the defense couldn’t break the game open, and despite the fact that Larry Fitzgerald game them a win in the end, the story of this game is still Aaron Rodgers.
And that’s not how you want to win a playoff game.
Game Ball To…
I’m tempted to give it to Aaron Rodgers, despite the fact that the Packers lost this game, but no, the game ball this time HAS to go to Larry Fitzgerald, who turned a quick slant pass into a 75-yard gain and a win for his team.
The Arizona Cardinals will play the winner of the Carolina Panthers-Seattle Seahawks match up. If the Seahawks win, the game will be in Arizona. If the Panthers win, then the Cardinals will go to Carolina.