NFL: Packers 31, Cardinals 17: Arizona reeks of mistakes again

Catching, tackling, coverage errors lead to Cards' 5th straight loss
2012-11-05T00:00:00Z NFL: Packers 31, Cardinals 17: Arizona reeks of mistakes againKent Somers The Arizona Republic Arizona Daily Star
November 05, 2012 12:00 am  • 

GREEN BAY, Wis. The visitors' locker room at Lambeau Field was nearly empty when Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald sprayed cologne on himself and in the air before meeting with reporters.

"It's the only thing that smells good in here," Fitzgerald said. "We stunk today."

Fitzgerald was referring to Sunday's 31-17 loss to the Packers, but his assessment could be applied retroactively to every game in October, too.

After starting the season with four victories, the Cardinals (4-5) enter their off week with a five-game losing streak and a great need to search their souls, and roster, for a way out of the misery.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt did more than hint at that Sunday afternoon, threatening to find players who won't jump offside, drop passes or miss tackles.

"If we have to make changes, if we have to put different guys in there, that's what this bye week is going to be for," he said.

Of the five losses, the past two are the most disturbing for the Cardinals and their fans. Everyone knew that to win, the Cardinals needed their defense to play like one of the NFL's elite, which it claims to be. But in the first halves of losses to the 49ers and Packers, the defense has yielded 38 points and 465 yards.

Arizona trailed the 49ers by 17 points at half; the Packers by 14. The defense played much better in the second halves of those games, but it was far too late by then.

"I don't know, maybe we just woke up," linebacker Paris Lenon said. "We've got to start faster, especially playing these really explosive offenses."

Arizona looked awful at blocking, tackling, catching, etc.

John Skelton was 23 of 46 for 306 yards, his most passing yardage since last December, but the Cardinals dropped at least three passes - including two on third down by Early Doucet. They missed tackles, including in the first quarter, when strong safety Adrian Wilson tried to throw a shoulder into receiver Randall Cobb on third-and-goal. Cobb bounced off and scored.

The Packers (6-3) had touchdown drives of 84, 80 and 75 yards in the first half. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed less than 50 percent of his passes (14 of 30) but threw for four TDs.

The last came on the final play on the third quarter. A blown pass coverage left tight end Tom Crabtree open down the middle, and he scored from 72 yards out. The timing could not have been worse because the Cardinals had scored 10 points to close the gap to a TD.

Lenon was the closest defender to Crabtree, but it's unknown who made the coverage mistake. That score gave the Packers a 31-17 lead, and Arizona crossed into Packers territory just one time after that.

Whisenhunt spread the blame.

"It's not just Early," he said. "We missed a tackle on the first touchdown. We bust a coverage on that 72-yard touchdown pass. There are a lot of guys who are doing that."

Doucet didn't play much in the second half, which meant more time for rookie Michael Floyd. He had five catches for 80 yards.

Rookie Nate Potter replaced D'Anthony Batiste at left tackle in the second quarter and appeared to hold up well. But he didn't have to see much of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who suffered a hamstring injury early in the third quarter and didn't return.

Up next

• Who: Cardinals at Falcons

• When: 11 a.m., Nov. 18

• TV: Channel 11

• Radio: 1290-AM

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