Cards top Pack in OT (cont.)
After Adams missed on the earlier sack of Rodgers, Dansby said he gave his teammate what turned out to be very good advice.
"I told him if he hit the body, the ball will come out,'' Dansby said. "I told him that on the first [blitz], and the second time he hit the body and the ball came out, and I just made a play on it.''
Nobody's loving life more right now than Rackers, who was being fitted for an eternal pair of goat horns after missing -- and missing badly -- on a 34-yard potential game-winner with :14 left in regulation.
"I just hooked it,'' a relieved Rackers said. "I just let the hips fly through and it started out left and it kept going left. I'm grateful my teammates came through and I don't have to sit on that one for eight months.''
Eight months? Who said he would get off that lucky?
Entering the game, Rackers had missed one field goal all season, going 16 of 17, even though he missed games in Weeks 15 and 16 due to a groin problem, and hadn't converted a field goal since Week 14 at San Francisco. So he was rusty, and that rust apparently didn't get completely removed by the 23-yarder he converted in the first quarter to give Arizona a 17-0 lead.
"When he missed it, I was like, 'C'mon man.' Is this supposed to be the highest-rated game ever?'' Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said of Rackers' failure in the clutch. "Then I thought back and I heard everybody saying, 'This is going to be the best game of the weekend.' I said, they were right. This was the best game.''
I suppose you can say Rackers did his part to add to the memorable finish.
For the most part, Rodgers was magnificent in defeat. He completed 28-of-42 passes for a Packers playoff-record 422 yards, with four touchdowns and a 121.3 passer rating. He led his team back from deficits of 17-0 after the first quarter, 31-10 early in the third quarter, and twice pulled Green Bay even in the fourth quarter at 38-38 and 45-45. The Packers scored 35 points in the second half alone, with Rodgers throwing all four of his touchdowns.
But he also had his mistakes. He threw a horrible interception to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Green Bay's first play from scrimmage, and had the game-deciding fumble on the last play of the day.
"I was trying to unload it,'' Rodgers said. "I should have held onto the ball.''
True, but the play Rodgers really wishes he had back was the first snap in overtime, when he missed a wide-open Greg Jennings on a deep middle pattern. Rodgers overthrew his favorite receiver by several yards, with Jennings at least three yards behind Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle. The play would have ended the game right then and there, and Green Bay would have posted one of the most remarkable comebacks in NFL playoff history.
"I just missed it, unfortunately,'' Rodgers said. "When I came off the fake, I wished I had just a tad more time. Knowing that it was not (Rodgers-Cromartie), it was Antrel, he was up on him. I still felt pretty good about the throw. Unfortunately it was just a little too far.''
As much as they fought back, the Packers in the end were doomed by their three turnovers -- the Rodgers interception, a Donald Driver fumble on Green Bay's second possession, and the Rodgers fumble in overtime. That's so uncharacteristic of Green Bay this season. The Packers had just 16 turnovers in 16 regular season games, the fewest in the NFL.
"We had two turnovers in the first three plays of the game,'' Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "If you would have told me that we would have come in here and went interception, fumble, sack in our first two series, I never would have believed you, especially with the two turnovers in the first three plays.''
Given that the near-annual Warner Retirement Watch has already begun, the fact that the Cardinals quarterback took an abbreviated victory lap around the stadium after Arizona's dramatic win was interpreted as a potential goodbye to Cardinals fans.
It was, sort of. But Warner said it wasn't the goodbye that had the same meaning as many were trying to assign it.
"Everybody relax,'' Warner said to the media when it continued to ask retirement questions. "That was my way of saying thanks to the fans because (as the NFC's No. 4 seed) we're not coming back here this year. I appreciate them.''
Warner dodged the retirement question, but said he would only step back and make a decision on whether he intends to play in 2010 once this year's playoff run is over.
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