Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 31, Cardinals 17
As Packers players kept limping off the field Sunday, Aaron Rodgers kept his team moving forward. Well, for the most part, anyway.
There were some frustrating moments, and more failed opportunities to bury a team before the fourth quarter, but given all the injuries, Sunday’s win over the Cardinals was a good one.
As the Packers added Clay Matthews and Bryan Bulaga to their multi-page list of injured players, they also added another notch in the win column. The Packers are now 6-3 heading into the bye and need the week off to heal and come back as strong as possible for the stretch run.
Will the injuries keep mounting and derail the season? Or will players heal and be well-rested come December and January?
Here’s hoping for the latter.
I’m filling in for Kris Burke on this week’s Game Balls and Lame Calls. Kris has a combination of SARS, the bird flu and mad cow disease (actually I think it’s the regular flu and a sinus infection), so he’s also on the injury report, too.
Here’s who stood out and who didn’t in the Packers win over the Cardinals.
WR/RB/KR/PR Randall Cobb
Cobb was a man among boys on Sunday. When a spark was needed on special teams, Cobb ripped off a nice return. When a big catch was needed, Cobb came through. When a burst out of the backfield was needed, Cobb provided it. If Mason Crosby keeps missing field goals, maybe Cobb can take over. If Sam Shields can’t return from his knee injury, perhaps Cobb could play in the nickel. If Clay Matthews misses time with a hamstring, I bet Cobb could get a few sacks filling in. I’m only half kidding about this. The kid seems like he can do it all.
TE Tom Crabtree
Who’s that guy dashing down the field for another long touchdown? Why, it’s Tom Crabtree! Who needs a healthy Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson catching 50-yard bombs when you can just pull out a secret weapon called Crabtree and open fire on opposing defenses? I’m glad Crabtree caught that 72-yard touchdown and, given the Packers injury curse, I’m glad he didn’t hurt his neck looking behind him to make sure nobody was catching up as he galloped to the end zone.
He never quite got home, but Walden drilled John Skelton a few times on Sunday. He also added an interception and a key tackle for loss on a third down play late in the game. Walden has been a great complement to Matthews this season. As long as Perry can come back, which should prevent Walden from wearing down, I see more good things happening for No. 93.
Might the Packers bring in a few kickers for a tryout over the bye week? I doubt it, but I wouldn’t blame them if they did. Crosby has become a liability on field goals and it feels like it’s more than just a slump.
Jordy Nelson leaving early was another opportunity for Finley to step up and get on track. Instead he caught one pass for six yards. Someone who knows more about football than I do needs to do a film study on Finley and tell us if he’s still drawing double teams like he used to. And if he is, someone needs to ask teams that double team him why they continue to do so. He never gets separation, even when he’s guarded one-on-one. He just looks slow…
Packers’ Killer Instinct
I suppose too many blowouts would get boring after a while, but man, keeping games close when they don’t need to be also gets tiring. And stressful. I know it’s hard to dominate teams when you’re banged up and losing even more players during the game, but the Packers had great field position on their first three drives in the second half and went three-and-out each time. Also, why did McCarthy punt on fourth and 1 from Arizona’s 43? Go for the kill, Mike.