An ill-fated field goal attempt by Neil Rackers
, coupled with an overtime correct coin toss guess by Charles Woodson
, appeared to end the Cardinals chance of visiting the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. But Michael Adams
, who was in the dog house for the first 60 minutes, sacked Aaron Rodgers
in overtime and forced a fumble. Karlos Dansby
recovered the game ball and raced to the end zone to hand his team a 51-45 win and another crack at the Super Bowl for his quarterback Kurt Warner. His recovery begged his line, "See you in New Orleans baby."
The game-winning duo couldn't have written that ending themselves. No redemption could have been more sweet for Adams who was picked on for two-straight weeks and was on the wrong end of whistle blows throughout Sunday's contest.
The finish was also sweet for Dansby who the Cardinals have held on to courtesy of two-consecutive franchise tags. His 2009 regular-season performance didn't hold up to the Cardinals short leash. He was due for a big-time game and got one when it counted the most.
Not only did he score the game-winner, but he also forced a fumble in the first quarter that led to an Early Doucet touchdown. Doucet didn't hang up his cleats quite yet. He received another TD pass in the second quarter, gaining another shot to try out his fully-flexed touchdown celebration. Joining Doucet in the end zone were Tim Hightower
, Steve Breaston
(with a team-leading 125 yards), Larry Fitzgerald
(twice), Doucet (77 yards) once more and of course Dansby. Kurt Warner
's diplomatic play kept Arizona in the black while the Packers attempted to gain a lead at several points during the game.
The large final score (the most points ever in a playoff game) shouldn't come as a surprise, but the Cardinals did shock the nay-sayers once again. Come game time, Arizona hit its key goals. Warner's protection was good. His offensive line allowed him to pass for 379 yards, five touchdown passes with zero interceptions and record just a single sack against.
The Cardinals offense also hit their magic number of 30. They were nearly guaranteed a win (by record standpoint) if they scored more than 30 points. Arizona was generous putting up 51 instead. Problem was that the Packers cashed in too. The ping-pong matchup resulted in 45 Packers points and Rodgers registering 422 yards, four touchdowns and hitting two different targets for more than 100 yards (Jermichael Finley with 159 and Greg Jennings with 130). Rodgers protection had holes. His offensive line was beat for five sacks (Bertrand Berry
with two, Chike Okeafor
with one, Darnell Dockett
with one and the Adams' saving grace sack in overtime.
The Cardinals defense started and ended the game in primetime fashion, but there was a big-time meltdown in the third and fourth quarters. For as good as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
is (see: opening play interception), he was on the bad end of the highlight reel when he was burned by Spencer Havner
who scored the equalizing touchdown that sent Rackers on the field six plays later.
But bygones are bygones when your team wins, especially in the postseason.
The Green Bay Packers erased the Arizona Cardinals early lead but didn't end the home team's hopes of a back-to-back Super Bowl run. The entertaining ping-pong matchup lived up to its hype, and the Cardinals once again told its underdog status that it was barking up the wrong tree. The Cardinals and Kurt Warner live to see another day in the NFL playoffs courtesy of a 51-45 overtime victory.
The Cardinals live to see another day in the NFL playoffs thanks to a 51-45 win over Green Bay.