GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few halftime thoughts with Green Bay trailing by two touchdowns at University of Phoenix Stadium:
It’s rare that you overcome two turnovers in the first five minutes of a road playoff game. That’s what the Packers are up against here. Aaron Rodgers’ poor decision on his first play, and Karlos Dansby’s punch-out after a Donald Driver reception, were the two big plays in Arizona building a 14-0 lead. It bears repeating: The Packers committed 16 turnovers in 16 regular-season games. They had two in the first five minutes of their first playoff game.
Thanks to those turnovers, the Cardinals started their first two drives at the Packers’ 40- and 22-yard lines, respectively.
There hasn’t been a moment where I’ve thought Rodgers was in rhythm. It started with his first pass, an across-the-body toss into double coverage just before he stepped out of bounds, and continued throughout the half. He seems to have returned to his early-season tendency to hold the ball too long. I haven’t seen many receivers running open in the secondary, but Rodgers needs to be willing to throw the ball away. Arizona has four sacks in the first half.
Some of us wondered if the Packers were up to defending the Cardinals’ three-receiver set. That issue seemed to have been minimized by the absence of receiver Anquan Boldin, but the Packers have still been on their heels for the entire first half. Early Doucet has two touchdowns in Boldin’s absence; on the second, oft-targeted nickelback Jarrett Bush was in coverage.
As it turns out, the only thing keeping the Packers from having been completely blown off the field was Charles Woodson’s forced fumble against Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the red zone. That became a 10-point play when the Packers eventually converted a field goal. It also got coach Mike McCarthy off the hook for having Mason Crosby attempt a 54-yard field goal. The predictable miss gave the Cardinals possession on the Packers’ 45-yard line.