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Packers Thrash Cardinals In PostseasonTune-Up


Attention Arizona Cardinals: there are actually 16 games in the NFL's regular season, in case someone forgot to mention it.

In a game that was deemed meaningless before kickoff, the Green Bay Packers came out with the same intensity that won them seven of their last eight games. The Cardinals came out, saw their shadow and apparently went back into their hole in the ground.

Even before the substitution parade began for the Cardinals, they looked uninspired and uninterested in participating in week 17. The two teams will meet again next week at the same venue for the wildcard playoff game, a game that will actually mean something.

There are many different theories surrounding strategy on how to play the final game of the season when postseason positioning won't be affected. The Cardinals played to avoid injuries, while the Packers played to keep their momentum.

Green Bay will leave Arizona with its momentum still very much intact after a 33-7 beatdown and no serious injuries to speak of. Cornerback Charles Woodson appeared to re-injure his sore shoulder and did not return to the game, but it appears as though he will be ready to go by next week.

Arizona on the other hand, barely put up a fight and suffered potentially severe injuries to two of its key players. Cornerback Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered an apparent knee injury on the first series of the game and left the field on a cart. Early in the third quarter, receiver Anquan Boldin injured his ankle and did not return.

The Packer defense, which has risen to the top of the league after a dismal performance in 2008, once again did not disappoint, generating three interceptions and holding Arizona scoreless until 2:59 remained in the game. The Cardinals lone score came after backup quarterback Matt Flynn was intercepted by Ralph Brown, who returned it 77 yards to the Packer three yard line. 

Woodson, who is a strong candidate for defensive player of the year, had one pick which he returned for a touchdown. Cornerback Tramon Williams and safety Atari Bigby also had an interception. Green Bay finished the regular season with a plus-24 turnover margin, tying a franchise record.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was nearly flawless, completing 21-26 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown. Rodgers also rushed for a touchdown and fell just yards short of breaking the franchise record for passing yards in a season held by Lynn Dickey.

The Packers also became the first team to have a 4,000 yard passer in Rodgers, a 1,200 yard rusher (Ryan Grant), and two 1,000 yard receivers (Donald Driver and Greg Jennings) two seasons in a row. Rodgers became the first Packer quarterback since Bart Starr to finish a season with a quarterback rating of over 100.

Sunday's game probably couldn't have gone any better for Green Bay if they had drawn it out on paper. They got an easy victory, kept the offense on rhythm, held onto their momentum and escaped without major injury.

Now the attention turns to the playoffs, where the stakes will be much higher. The Packers return to the postseason for the first time since their NFC Championship year of 2007. Next week's game will be Rodgers' first career postseason start.

If the last eight games are any indication, the Packers are ready for playoff football. If they wish to make it to Miami for the Superbowl, they will have to do it the hard way, more than likely playing all their games on the road.

The Packers certainly got the best of Arizona Sunday, but it won't mean anything if they don't put up the same type of performance next week.


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