The Cardinals couldn’t have played much better against the Packers on Friday night at Lambeau Field, as they blanked Green Bay 17-0.
Arizona did something to Green Bay that hasn’t been done to them in the preseason since 1987: shut them out.
A few things stood out to me in the game that had me encouraged:
1. It was good to see Levi Brown out there at left tackle for the first time in quite a while. He held his own along with the rest of the offensive linemen. The Packers had one sack on the night – a far cry from what the Cardinals offensive line has given up on average per game over the past few seasons.
2. Rookie running back Stepfan Taylor took the bulk of the carries with Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams out. He rushed 20 times for 64 yards, while the Cardinals only other running back, Alfonso Smith, had 12 rushes for 21 yards. Not overly impressive numbers, but serviceable nonetheless.
3. The vertical passing game was definitely on display in Green Bay. Head coach Bruce Arians wasn’t afraid to dial up some deep throws, as Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley all let it fly at times. Palmer found wide receiver Andre Roberts on a 38-yard touchdown pass, Stanton hit wide receiver Charles Hawkins on a 36-yard completion and one of Lindley’s deep passes drew a pass interference penalty, which eventually led to the Cardinals’ final points on the night – a 21-yard field goal by Jay Feely.
4. The defense was up and ready to do their part, holding the Packers to just 223 yards of total offense. Aaron Rodgers didn’t last very long at quarterback, eventually giving way to Graham Harrell, Vince Young and B.J. Coleman.
5. Jasper Brinkley was very impressive at his linebacker position. He was extremely active, making plays. Cornerback Patrick Peterson had an interception, which led to Palmer’s TD pass to Roberts, and safety Tyrann Mathieu had his first sack in two years. Mathieu showed that he is going to be a hitter too. He’s not afraid to mix it up. Linebacker John Abraham also got in on the fun, with a sack and a forced fumble, which was recovered by fellow linebacker Sam Acho.
6. The Cardinals kept their penalties to a bare minimum, which is always good to see. They had just six on the night for a total of 50 yards, so they didn’t beat themselves in that department.
All wasn’t perfect, as it never is in an NFL game. Feely missed a 53-yard field goal, and Will Batson missed two of his own – a 31-yarder and a 42-yarder. Those are things that can’t continue to happen if the Cardinals expect to pull out close games, which are coming.
Now that the players got their first taste of preseason action, they’ll have Saturday off, then they’ll get back to work on Sunday morning, getting ready for the Dallas Cowboys, who will come to University of Phoenix Stadium next Saturday afternoon.