By Danny Cox
As the ball flew through the air and landed in the hands of Jeff Janis, all the air was sucked out of the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Arizona Cardinals? They knew what they had to do so they didn’t lower their heads. They got ready for overtime and prepared for at least another 15 minutes against the Green Bay Packers for the chance to advance to the Conference Round of the 2016 NFL Playoffs.
All they would need is one minute and five seconds as Larry Fitzgerald took control and quickly marched the Cardinals down the field and into the end zone for a 26-20 victory.
Carson Palmer was having a rather sub-par game with just 23-of-39 passes completed before overtime hit. In that extra minute and five seconds of game time, he racked up another 80 yards on 2-of-3 passes and one touchdown. Little did he know that Fitzgerald was just waiting to be set free and take the game into his own hands.
Fitzgerald had 176 yards on eight receptions and the game-winning touchdown. His big-time production was needed though as David Johnson and the running game couldn’t get much going all game. Arizona finished the evening with just 40 total yards on the ground.
Arizona didn’t do a bad job of containing the explosive offense of the Green Bay Packers as the running game couldn’t do much. Eddie Lacy had 89 yards on the ground, but 60 of those yards came on one rush attempt. Aaron Rodgers was also having a sub-par game, and he didn’t get a chance to make things better in overtime.
Rodgers made up for his slow night in the final two minutes of the second half. The Cardinals simply couldn’t stop him and Janis as the Packers drove 96 yards in just a few plays to tie the game up and send it into overtime. It could have been disastrous for the Cardinals, but the offense made up for it in the extra time.
Special Teams: B+
Chandler Catanzaro made both of his field goal attempts and both extra point attempts. It was obvious that every single point was needed. Drew Butler had a good day punting the ball as two of his three boots landed inside the 20-yard-line of the Packers.
There wasn’t much of a return game all day as Patrick Peterson had one punt return for 12 yards and there were just two kickoff returns.
Bruce Arians couldn’t get a lot going out of his team as the offense wasn’t exactly clicking and the defense was doing all they could. Then, he simply realized it was time to let Larry Fitzgerald run wild and that was all that was necessary.
With the victory, the Cardinals must await the result of the other NFC Divisional Round Game to see where they will be playing next week. They’ll either head to Carolina to take on the Panthers or welcome the Seattle Seahawks into Arizona. Neither team will make for an easy game and there is work to be done this week in practice if the Cardinals hope to make it to Super Bowl 50.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.