Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 31, Cardinals 17

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Packers WR Randall Cobb
Packers WR Randall Cobb had another big game on Sunday against the Cardinals.

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.

Game Balls

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.

Erik Walden
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.

Lame Calls

Mason Crosby
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.

Jermichael Finley
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.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • Dan

    Does anyone know a good shrink in the Green Bay area? If so, please give Crosby thier info

    It was great watching the running game strive again.st a good Arz D. Our O-line must have been reading all the negative press and fan mail and decided to start blocking.

    I’m concerned about the new injuries. The O-line will be dangerously thin if Bulaga doesn’t return soon. The recievers are already thin, I hope jordy doesn’t have a high ankle sprain and we all know how valuable CM3 is.

    Here’s to good news on the injury front. We need our horses back for the stretch run.

    • Adam Czech

      If Bulaga is hurt, he needs to sit out and fully heal before returning. We saw how his play dropped off when he played with a dinged up knee early in the season.

      • Pack Fan in ATL

        Yea… I feel bad saying this, but it felt like the line was almost better after his injury…

    • PackersRS

      He doesn’t need a shrink.

      He needs to practice kicking from the right hashmark. If anyone has the statistics, I’d bet a lot of money that most of his misses comes from that, and that his % kicking from the right is far, far worse than kicking from the middle or the left.

      • Mike

        I don’t know the overall statistics but I do feel like every kick he missed in ’09 was from that right has mark…

  • Art Rosen

    As everyone knows me I am NOT a Finley fan (Woodson either, bit I digress). Crabtree has had two TDs, two exciting TDs on minimal passes. Perhaps Finley’s time is up at GB. He can take his dropped passes, big ego and even bigger mouth to another team.

    • FireMMNow

      He will not be back next year. I think he is due like 7 or 8 million. will not happen. The guy just isnt very good anymore. Not sure why. He was never a burner, but he was fast enough. I am guessing the knee injury took away the half a step that he needs. Crabtree had a drop, but I would like to see Crabtree’s numbers if he was playing all of Finley’s snaps.

      • Art Rosen

        Seems to me that Crabtree has “heart and soul” when he plays. Finley has “mouth” and an agent with a mouth to match.

  • Tarynfor12

    Why do we even waste the time and effort to write about Finley in the lame calls section when he doesn’t put in any time and effort in his game.How many Deja Vu’s do we need to relive?

    Lame call came when MM decided to play Nelson and now face a possibility of losing him much longer…fingers crossed hoping not.

    • Adam Czech

      I haven’t read the papers yet this morning, but wasn’t Nelson’s injury an ankle an unrelated to his hamstring?

      If a guy is healthy enough to play, he should play. Nelson was apparently healthy enough to be out there.

      • FireMMNow

        agreed. ankle and unrelated. have to play guys that are cleared to play and want to play.

      • Mike

        Agree. Hopefully it isn’t the dreaded high ankle sprain and is just an ankle turn.

  • Tom

    I thought it was a good win. We Packer Fans are really spoiled. Your realize that we had the 3rd largest margin of victory this week (behind only Chicago and SD), and that with 10 starters out at one point. It is not easy to win in this league.

    Nothing to complaint about. Good win, get healthy and ready for the stretch run.

    • Adam Czech

      Agree with this 100 percent, Tom.

    • FireMMNow

      That is what I said last week. Winning by two scores in the NFL is not easy. Take a look at most of the betting lines in the NFL. 90% of them are like 5 points or less. Down ten starters….think about that. That is basically like replacing an entire unit with backups. And these are key guys. Good win. They dominated the game.

      • Pack Fan in ATL

        Sounds like we will be a mixture of the Giants last year and the Packers in 2010: Having a bunch of rookies playing well and stepping up on top of getting healthy during the home stretch.

        • Mike

          Just remember – rookies that play a lot during their rookie season are 1-season veterans when the playoffs start.

  • http://allpackers.com nick perry

    I think most of the reason the Packers can’t put anybody away is the fact they have 11 starters out! I’d love to see other NFL teams win after losing 2 and now 3 of your starting LB, starting CB, starting Safety, and a few key D-lineman, both starting WR, starting RT, and starting RB. By December the Packers could have all these guys back except the MLB’s and even have a few games together to get a grove started before playoffs. If that happens, LOOK OUT! I’m sick of hearing about the Bears and Falcons, both who have only beaten 1 team with a winning record. Come December the rest of the NFL is going to remember why the Packers were favorites to win it all when those ass whippings begin again! GO PACK GO!

    • Mike

      Exactly! Fans/players on teams who say the Packers are overrated/their team doesn’t get sufficient praise (Bears, Vikings, Falcons, 49ers, etc) should take into consideration what their team would look like without the equivalent players on their rosters. Where would the 49ers be without Gore, Willis and Justin Smith on a bum ankle. Or how about those doofuses in Chicago without Urlacher, Tillman/Jennings, Forte and both Marshall and Jeffery (Oh wait, we’ve seen that before – Hot Potato Jay)! 6-3 is pretty darn great heading into the bye!

  • alex parkhurst

    Finley – Buck and Aikman both agreed he has done nothing since his injury two years ago when we won the Super Bowl. I’ll leave it to others to decide waht to do with him. I just hope he gets better.

    Crabtree – dropped a pass or two early but Rodgers didn’t give up on him. Did you guys see how Rodgers nearly jumped in McCarthy’s arms for calling that play? They both were grinning from ear to ear.

    Game Ball!!!! – Special Teams – they have been bad for so long, it is a treat to watch them now. Before, I closed my eyes. Now I can’t wait to see some great return, great tackle or trick play.

    Game Ball!! – Did anyone see Number 82 Ryan Taylor with his kickoff return tackle? How about that block on Cobb’s long punt return. He absolutely crushed that guy.

    The coaching staff/Thompson drafting guys like Taylor and picking up Crabtree after being released from Chief’s practice squad looks very smart. Crabtree was the teams third leading tackler on special teams his first year and now plays everywhere. Want to know why we have so many tight ends? Because they are the size of linebackers, hit just as hard and can catch the football.

    • FireMMNow

      Agree with all of your points. On Finley, I was in a little argument with my brother. Since his knee injury he has been over 70 yards 3 times and never over 90 yards. and that is 25 games. the last two games that he has gone over 70 yards he needed 12 targets and ten targets. He caught 6 and 3 of those targets respectively. that is a 9 for 22 completion percentage. not good enough. too many weapons on this team that catch 60-70% of their targets to waste time on finley.

      Special Teams: I agree 100%. In years past every punt, kickoff or punt return you were just waiting for something bad to happen. I love watching special teams now. They have made an impact in nearly every game this year. Crosby needs a bye, to let his brain heal. Hated the contract when they gave it to him and still hate it now.

  • alex parkhurst

    I almost forgot:

    Game Ball: James Jones – He has made two crazy receptions this year. What a catch for a touchdown. It looked like he caught it off the back of the corner who was covering. He also made some nice 3rd down conversions. Remember when “we” didn’t need him. Jennings and Nelson now out and Finley not doing much. Cobb needs help and Jones is doing a great job. We need HIM!

  • PatMc

    I saw a heck of a nice block to free crabtree by Finley. Remember when we didn’t need James Jones. With his 8 TD’s I’m sure other teams regret not getting him. 6-3 and a bye. let’s focus on enjoying the rest of the games and let the chips fall as they might. I don’t think we can trade anymore so lets just enjoy and hope everyone gets healthy. Wow, on Jones catch. With him and cobb when Jennings & Jordy are healthy look out other teams. Stark looked like his old self. With a bye week the O’line hopefully gets healthy – we might be looking at a very good playoff team. Go Pack GO!

  • FireMMNow

    Overall a great game. Rodgers was off at times but still throws 4 TDs. I have not looked at the final box score but he completed less than 50% of his passes I think. Not sure the last time he did that. Maybe never?

    I thought Dezman Moses was decent replacing CM3. Not great, but decent. If nothing else the guy plays with a lot of power and energy. But this D needs Clay back soon.

    Lang did great at RT. Right now, that may be our best lineup anyways. Bulaga has struggled. Dietrich smith probably deserves playing time somehwere. if everyone is healthy after the bye, MM has to look at DS at center.

    Hayward struggled at times, as rookies will, but made some nice plays as well. Assisted in Waldens INT, made a great play on a slant on 4th down. Also they guy tackles pretty well.

    The bye is finally here. I hope guys take advantage of it and get the treatments they need. Everyone needs time off, but sprains and muscle pulls respond to treatment and rest. Get in and get healthy. This team is set for a nice second half.

    • Mike

      Yes, Rodgers had an off game, but 4 drops and a freak INT contributed to his off day. However, Rodgers should get a game ball for one play, his recovery of Starks’ fumble in the 2nd. How many QBs in this age of the pampered, over-protected QB, would dive into a pile like that to recover a fumble? Maybe Roethlisberger.

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      Rogers was 14 of 30, but the receivers had 4 drops, so it could easily have been 18 of 30 for 60%. We’re not used to seeing so few passing attempts!

      Also, with an effective running game, there were more play-action type passes which tend to be deeper and therefore less accurate than the usual West Coast short stuff.

      It’s been really interesting watching aaron learning to build on the run game the past few weeks. It seems like McCarthy made that a particular goal against these ‘lesser’ teams. Seems like the Packers are doing fewer ZBS ‘stretch’ plays, and more runs where saturday can block straight up instead of trying for a reach block he doesn’t do very well.

      Good win. Let’s get healthy and then keep it up after the bye.

      • Mike

        That last point you made was key; Saturday needs to be allowed to simply block the guy in front of him. He has been serviceable. But on almost any run where he needs to reach or scoop, Saturday has struggled mightily.

  • Dan

    Yes , Aaron didn’t have a “Rodgers” type day, he was off Target on some of his passes, but, a Arod bad day is a greet day for most QBs. 4 TDs, 1 INT? (the ball hit cobbs chest and the DB striped it out) , great runs to keep drives alive, a big fumble recovery (great effort), 97 passer rating and he lead his team to a 2 score victory!

  • Dan

    And his recievers dropped some of his passes

  • ELo

    Rodgers threw a few out of bounds when no one was open – that makes the completion % look worse than it was. I’d rather he did that than take a sack.

    I am very excited to see Jennings, Jones, Nelson and Cobb in 4 receiver set. We are 6-3 and have really only had one solid offensive performance.

    We are in for a very exciting last 7 games. I see this team getting hot.

  • http://googlechrome madtowne

    Lame Calls:

    Troy Aikman’s play calling on “Reggie Cobb.”
    It’s Randall replies Joe Buck!

    Troy Aikman’s former high school in Henrietta Oklahoma honoring Troy…
    Who the hell cares!

    Troy Aikman talking about D. Driver’s
    bobble & catch for a first down…”The
    officials clearly blew that call.”
    The replay showed Driver’s backside and
    the yellow line is not always accurate.

    Get this clown out of the booth!

  • aaronqb

    If you guys think that Crabtree is in the same league as Finley then I want some of what you are smoking.

    Finley is playing with an injured shoulder and has been on a limited snap count for several weeks. If there were more healthy bodies around, I would think Finley would have been inactive.

    I’m not sure what the coaching staff does with him in the off-season because he is getting paid a lot of money, but if you think Crabtree is the answer at TE, then think again.

    Remember Spencer Havner?

    I can’t believe all of the negativity on this board. The Packers are 6-3 and played the second half yesterday minus 6 starters on defense and six starters on offense (all of the skill positions except Rodgers) against an Arizona team with a very good defense.

    • FireMMNow

      I think everyone has been pretty positive about the team. the last time i checked a shoulder injury does not stop you from running fast. no one is saying crabtree is a great TE, but he has been more productive than finley with less snaps. finley has not had over 90 yards in 25 games. and only gone over 70 yards 3 times! crabtree is in finley’s league. the league of average NFL TEs. heck of a shoulder injury to limit a guy for 25 games. snap count? i have not read anything about that. just because he is not on the field for every play, does not mean he is on a snap count.

      I know, I know, teams are gameplanning to take Finley away….yeah right. If that is the case then Finley has run up against the best string of defensive coordinators in the history of the NFL, because they have all been incredibly effective. I am just glad they are worrying about Finley and not Jennings, Jordy, Cobb or James Jones. Keep playing him MM, the decoy is working perfectly. 25 games and running!

      and once again, I do not mean that Crabtree is an all pro TE in the making, but he just looks quicker and more effective than finley right now. his routes look better and he is quicker off the ball. but i do not want him to be the teams starting TE next year.

      it was a great win for the team though.

      • aaronqb

        The Packers win 4 in a row and beat Arizona by 14 points with 12 starters out or injured. Yet, we find the need to give out as many lame calls and game balls. Here’s a few comments on this thread alone …

        I feel bad saying this, but it felt like the line was almost better after his (Bulaga’s) injury.

        Why do we even waste the time and effort to write about Finley in the lame calls section when he doesn’t put in any time and effort in his game.

        I thought Dezman Moses was decent replacing CM3. Not great, but decent.

        So, these great “Packer fans” are now trying to run Finley out of town just like they tried to run Ted out of town when he traded Favre or didn’t sign Lynch. Or run McCarthy out of town after they were 6-10 one year or started 2010 at 4-4. Or run Jarrett Bush out of town when he gave up a few plays as a DB (he is special teamer BTW). Or run Sam Shields out of town last year. Want more examples?

        • FireMMNow

          You are right. The players and coaches are all perfect and no one should be critical of poor play.

          I think you should watch the game with my grandmother and celebrate all of the homeruns with cookies and milk.

          In reference to the snippets that you call negative, I find laughable. You have a problem with someone saying, “Dezman moses was decent, but not great.”? Really? I would say that is pretty fair and accurate. Do you think he played great?

          The line probably did play better after Bulaga went down. He has rated all season as the worst lineman on the team. It does not mean he is a bad person or a bad player, but his play has not been great.

          and fans can be over zealous. i called for MM head after the lions game in 2010. but i also wanted the packers to get rid of ray rhodes and bob slowik ahmad carroll and a host of other people that did not perform. most good fans are critical because they have been through awful times as a fan and want the team to be successful. most fans that only see positive in a win and get upset over critical fans are bandwagon fans and will gone as soon as the team struggles.

          And I think the fact that you have a problem with negativity is somewhat ironic. I made the statement that Crabtree has been playing well and would like to see him get more snaps. Yet in your comment you say that Crabtree is not even in Finley’s league So negative. how dare you say that crabtree is not doing a fantastic job!

          so anyways, the pot just called the kettle black and threw a stone through his glass house and all that.

          • Pack Fan in ATL

            Exactly. I was stoked about Bulaga after his standout season last year, but he has not played the same. I am not clamoring for him to be replaced, I merely made an observation as it appeared Rodgers had a lot more time to make his passes after Bulaga left the game. I wish him the best and hope he gets back to form soon.

            Sorry if I offended your sensibilities with my observation, but don’t take it as a completely negative comment. Note my other observation on the page about how this season appears to be shaping up to be like 2010 & 2011’s Super Bowl winners.

    • Chad Lundberg

      If you think there is a bigger disappoint with the Packers than Finley then please, indulge me.

  • frozentundra91

    -McCarthy continued to stick with the run and finally we are starting to see some results. The o-line performed well and both Green and Starks were pretty effective. It was nice to see the ability of the Packers to run out some time at the end of the game.
    -Special teams were great again. Probably the most consistent group of this team. Every week a new person steps up and makes a great play. The Packers shut down Patrick Peterson, which isn’t easy to do.
    -Crosby continues to impress….. lol.

  • Chad Lundberg

    I’m gonna give credit where credit is due, Jones has been spectacular since the beginning of 2011. If I’m correct he’s only had 3 dropped balls in that span. He’s also had 15 touchdown catches.

    It’s just that… don’t take this the wrong way but I just want to see at least a little more before I can say he’s officially turned himself around.

    Again, don’t get me wrong because he probably has turned a corner. I’m probably wrong to feel this way.

    It’s just a feeling in my gut that’s a little hard to ignore and it’s telling me to just wait a tad bit longer, almost as if I’m waiting for him to make that mistake again.

    • aaronqb

      Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the Packer fans that wanted to run James Jones out of town after he dropped some passes in 2010. He hasn’t dropped a single pass in 2012 and leads the NFL in touchdown receptions.

      Yeah, let’s run Finley out of town. We fans know better than Thompson and McCarthy.

      • FireMMNow

        there is a reason TT gave finley a two year back loaded deal aaronqb. it is because he is not sold on finley. it is okay to be critical. Finley made about $200k on sunday for making one catch, he is a big boy with a big bank account. he can handle it. milk and cookies for everyone.

        • aaronqb

          If TT did not think Finley could play, he would have let him walk and collected a compensatory draft pick.

          My point is I don’t think it’s productive to nitpick (like you have with trying to run MM out of town) when you only see a small part of the picture. Finley reads a lot of this crap from Packer “fans/know it alls” like you – how do you know he can handle it? Some guys are better at it than others.

          What I do know is that there is no one on the Packer roster that even close as a TE.

          Why not try to run Driver out of town? He would have been 0 for 2 (if not for a fortuitous bounce) on passes that hit him on the numbers?

          • FireMMNow

            wow, if Finley is so mentally weak that know it all fans like myself would hurt his feelings and affect his play then he really does have issues.

            if you do not like people making critical comments you should just read the article and go back to reading articles on packers.com

          • PatMc

            TT gave Finley a backloaded contract to prove his maturity and worth. I don’t think Finley will see that money.

            If Finley is reading these articles and comments here is some advice. Execute 100% the way MM and ARod expect you to. No offsides, catch the ball, block. Don’t celebrate until you catch a TD in the SB. Just hand the ball to the official and be respectful.

            I agree there is no TE equal to Finley potential. That is TT & MM fault. They have 5 TE’s and other TE they brought in as FA’s over the past two years. Why are they so messed up?

            This should be Driver’s last year. He has lost a step. I will be glad if GB gives him a position in office or as a coach. He would add much value. As a Professional WR he is on the decline.

      • Tarynfor12

        Fans don’t know better than TT and I certainly have never even projected that kind of thought.But fans aren’t blind and regretfully GMs need to be for the sake of the team in some instances and Finley is one of those times.But don’t be fooled,TT will find it very hard to justify retaining him after the season is over and likely won’t.

  • Dan

    Not feeling good after reading MMs injury update. Let’s hope CM’s hammy isn’t a month long thing and that Perry and Bulaga do not need surgery

  • FITZCORE1252

    Aaronqb, you lost, give it up.

    I think this team catches fire in the second half, young guys are getting valuable playing time, that coupled with getting ballers healthy is going to bode well. I think that debacle in Seattle is going to cost us a bye more than likely, but that’s not the end of the world, we’ve seen that movie before .

    GBP 4 LIFE

  • aaronqb

    OK, I give.

    Just because I am in the minority doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I’ve been on the right side of the controversies on TT, MM, James Jones, Lynch, and Bush. We’ll see how this pans out.

    I’ll leave it to the know-it-alls to debate on this board. I’m out.

    Go Pack

    • FireMMNow

      cool thanks.