|Other Week 18 Game Recaps|
|BAL at NE||GB at ARI||NYJ at CIN||PHI at DAL|
Week 18 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 45, Arizona Cardinals 51
Green Bay Packers
|QB Aaron Rodgers, Pass: 28 - 42 - 422 - 4 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 1|
Rodgers got off to a horrible start, with an ill-advised first throw of the day that was deflected and picked. If it hadn't been deflected, it might have been picked anyway because the receiver targeted was well-covered. Another Packers turnover put them into a big hole early, but Rodgers was able to keep the ship from taking on too much water by scoring on a one-yard sneak and leading a field goal drive at the end of the first half to keep the Pack within two scores. He overcame a shaky start when he was relegated to nibbling at the edges of the defense by jumpstarting the offense with a perfect throw to Greg Jennings down the middle. The Cards opened up a 21-point lead early in the third quarter, but Rodgers was undaunted and played almost perfect football for the rest of the second half. He led them to five consecutive scores, including back to back scores after a successful onsides kick. Rodgers timing, accuracy, and work when he was outside the pocket was outstanding, although he did require a little help from Jennings, who made a one-handed stab on a short TD that will go down as one of the best plays of this postseason. Rodgers eviscerated the Cardinals defense with numerous long plays to Jermichael Finley, and his third-down conversion throw to Finley in the red zone late in the fourth quarter set up the game-tying score. The Packers won the overtime coin toss after Neil Rackers missed a chipshot to win the game, but a Mike Adams sack separated him from the ball and Karlos Dansby returned it for a TD to end the instant classic. Rodgers did have a chance to end the game when Jennings got open deep on first down, but Rodgers couldn't make an accurate throw. Still, Rodgers still showed that he can summon up his best when it matters the most, and we'll see him put on some playoff shows in the future. It's hard to imagine any other QB going first off the board in fantasy drafts next season.
|RB Ryan Grant, Rush: 11 - 65 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets)|
Grant was very effective, ripping off long runs by finding cutback lanes and breaking weak tackles. Most of his runs went for 5-10 yards even though he was never able to get in a rhythm because the Packers trailed for the entire game. He finished the season strong and should be a good second round pick in fantasy drafts next season.
|RB Ahman Green, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0|
The grizzled vet converted a fourth down short yardage carry, and he was stuffed on a first-and-goal carry in the first half in a very small role.
|RB Brandon Jackson, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (1 targets)|
Jackson was barely used, and when he got a chance to make a play running out of the shotgun deep in Arizona territory late in the first half, he was stuffed for a loss.
|WR Greg Jennings, Rec: 8 - 130 - 1 (12 targets)|
Jennings catch in stride between the hashes got the Packers sleeping giant offense woke up, and when they fell behind by 21 early in the third quarter, he stepped up big again. Jennings caught an out that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie tried to jump and bumbled and stumbled his way inside the five-yard line. He then finished the drive with a one-handed stab of a back shoulder throw in the end zone that has to be seen to be believed. Jennings had a massive statistical day, but it could have been even bigger if Rodgers had hit him when he was open deep in overtime. His 2009 numbers might be considered disappointing, but his talent is still top notch, making him a player to target as a value pick in the 3rd/4th round next season.
|WR Donald Driver, Rec: 4 - 43 - 0 (6 targets)|
Driver's early fumble put the Pack in a 14 point hole, and he also held downfield on a Finley catch that went to the one-yard line, but Driver drew the pass interference penalty that set up the Packers first TD of the day, and he had a catch down the one of his own that set up the score that knotted the game at 38. Driver is well into his 30s, but he is still running routes with the same quickness, speed, and ferocity as always and he will be a value pick again next year in fantasy drafts.
|WR James Jones, Rec: 3 - 50 - 1 (5 targets)|
Jones had a bad drop early in the game, but he made amends with a catch-and-run TD on 4th down to bring the Pack within a score in the early fourth quarter.
|WR Jordy Nelson, Rec: 1 - 10 - 1 (2 targets)|
Nelson didn't make much of a difference in the return game, but he did snag a short throw from Rodgers inside the 10 and turn it into the score that made it 31-24 in the third quarter.
|TE Jermichael Finley, Rec: 6 - 159 - 0 (9 targets)|
The Cardinals covered Finley early with more than one defender, but for some reason, they left players in single-coverage mismatches with him as the game went on. Finley plucked a 44-yard desperation throw from Rodgers over Mike Adams, who also interfered with Finley, and the string of big plays was started. On the next play, Finley got the ball into the red zone. He also got the ball down the one on a second half drive, only to be pushed back by a Donald Driver holding penalty downfield, and Finley also had a 38-yard catch and a key third-down conversion that helped drives that knotted the game at 38 and 45. He should be one of the top five tight ends off the board in every fantasy draft next year.
|TE Spencer Havner|
Havner caught the TD that tied the game at 45, using his linebacker strength to get into the end zone.
|QB Kurt Warner, Pass: 29 - 33 - 379 - 5 TD / 0 INT|
It's hard to imagine that Warner could have done more to help the Cardinals to win this game. He was protected well and dissected the Packers defense with picture-perfect throws to the middle of the field all day, getting his secondary receivers involved in the absence of Anquan Boldin. Warner was helped by a nice diving one-handed catch on one Fitzgerald TD. All day, Warner could patiently go through his reads, and except for a Larry Fitzgerald fumble, a sprawling breakup by Charles Woodson on third-down, and the Neil Rackers miss at the end of regulation, every Cardinals drive ended with points. The Saints defense should be very afraid of the QB trying to get to his fourth Super Bowl.
|RB Chris Wells, Rush: 14 - 91 - 0|
Wells was stacked up for a few losses, but he mostly gashed the Packers for five and ten yard gains, and his 42 yard run in the third quarter helped calm down the Cards after back-to-back Packers TDs pulled them within seven points. Wells didn't bust off any long gains after that, but he did more than enough in the second half of the season to become the centerpiece of the post-Warner Arizona offense, whether that comes about next season or in 2011.
|RB Tim Hightower, Rush: 7 - 19 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)|
Hightower bulled his way in for a first-half TD and had a few key receptions to pick up first downs on the drive that put the Cards up 45-38 late in the fourth quarter, but he again took a backseat to Beanie Wells in the meat-and-potatoes running game. His value is set to drop in the offseason as Wells becomes more accustomed to the roles and responsibilites of a running back in a pro offense.
|RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Rush: 1 - 18 - 0, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (4 targets)|
Stephens-Howling was used in a Reggie Bush-esque role, running routes split out wide and giving Kurt Warner another target downfield. He also had a nice run and drew a face mask penalty to help set up the TD that put the Cards up 24-7 in the second quarter. The rookie has a nice future in the NFL as a versatile speedy back/return man.
|WR Steve Breaston, Rush: 1 - 28 - 0, Rec: 7 - 125 - 1 (9 targets)|
Breaston gave a preview of the Cardinals starting WR combo if Anquan Boldin is traded in the offseason, and looked good doing it. He made plenty of strong catches over the middle, including a spinning TD in the second half. He took advantage of poor tackling to break a long gain on an end around, and he also made multiple catches in tight coverage. Breaston was the Cardinals leading receiver and he will start somewhere eventually, even if the Cards keep Boldin until the end of his career.
|WR Early Doucet, Rec: 6 - 77 - 2 (6 targets)|
Doucet made his arrival on the scene with Boldin out by running very strong after the catch - in fact it was very Boldin-esque. Doucet caught a pair of scores, and also made multiple catches in the red zone, including the catch that set up Neil Rackers missed game-winning FG attempt. His emergence is another reason the Cardinals can afford to trade Anquan Boldin this offseason.
|WR Larry Fitzgerald, Rec: 6 - 82 - 2 (7 targets)|
Fitzgerald scored his eighth and ninth touchdowns in only five playoff games, but he had to bowl over Charles Woodson to do it on both plays. Some thought offensive pass interference was in order, especially on the second score, which Fitzgerald accomplished on a gorgeous diving one-handed catch. Fitzgerald was stripped by Woodson on the play that let the Packers get out of an early hole and didn't have much of an impact outside of his his two scores, save for a 15-yard catch on the way to Rackers missed would-be game-winner.
|TE Ben Patrick, Rec: 3 - 42 - 0 (3 targets)|
Patrick had a few nice downfield catches in the shootout. He could become a more important part of the Cardinals offense if Warner retires this offseason and they move away from the shotgun-spread offense.