Fitzgerald and Cardinals survive Aaron Rodgers and move on to NFC Championship game
In a game that saw a tipped pass for a touchdown, a catch ruled a catch that may have not been a catch, a 4th and 20 completion go for 60-yards in the fourth quarter, a Hail Mary, a coin toss that took two tries, a seventy-five-yard busted coverage completion and a shovel pass to end, the game the only thing left is complete exuberation and sorrow.
Long story short, the Arizona Cardinals escaped with a 26 – 20 overtime win against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Carson Palmer completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald on the Cardinals first possession in overtime to secure the victory.
The touchdown was set up by a 75-yard completion from Palmer to Fitzgerald, when Julius Peppers, the Packers defensive end, lost contain on Fitzgerald as he slipped out and was wide open on the left side of the field.
This completion was also made possible by a scramble from Palmer to buy time as his passing pocket collapsed.
Palmer, who at different points of the game was both brilliant and erratic, started the game off well by tossing an incredible placed ball to Michael Floyd for the Cardinals first touchdown of the game.
After that Palmer, at times, played like a quarterback that was in only his third playoff game by throwing two bad interceptions, one in the end zone killing a possible scoring drive for the Cardinals.
But Palmer settled down and led the Cardinals on a touchdown drive by throwing a tip drill touchdown pass to Floyd for his second touchdown receiving grab of the game.
Then off course the game winner to Fitzgerald.
Palmer finished going 25-41, 349-yards, 3touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
“It feels good, it feels better than I thought”, Palmer added, “We’re excited about what’s ahead of us.”
On the winning touchdown, Palmer said, “(The) shovel pass to Larry… Phenomenal call.”
The overtime heroism would not have been needed if it was not by Superman himself, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Cardinals with a 4-point lead tried a pass on second down that fell incomplete. This was right before the 2-minute warning so it added about 45-seconds for Rodgers to work with and that’s all he needed.
Instead of having about 1:10 to work with, Rodgers had a 1:56 left and as Alonzo said in the movie Training Day, “he went surgical” with that much time to work with.
On 4th down and 20 from his own 4-yard line he completed and 60-yard pass to Jeff Janis by stepping up to avoid pressure.
But that was just the appetizer.
For the main course, Rodgers decided to avoid the rush by running to the left, half stop, and throw a 41-yard Hail Mary strike to Janis against his body to send the game into overtime.
Mike McCarthy, Packers head coach said, “I don’t know if anybody else could make that throw”.
And that was just the beginning of the fun. During the coin toss, referee Clete Blakman had to toss the coin twice because the coin didn’t flip.
Rodgers said he would have called heads on the second toss but was not giving the opportunity, thus the Cardinals won the toss and the rest as they say “is history”.
According to Rodgers, the coin toss was a, “debacle”.
The Cardinals will now sit and wait to see if they will be hosting their 2nd NFC title game since 2008 or if the will be on the road next week.
Either way it will be hard to top the emotional roller coaster excitement that this game had.
Fitzgerald finished with 8 catches for 176 yards and 1 touchdown.
Patrick Peterson held James Jones to 0 catches.
Credit: Photo credit azcentral.com
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