On a warm August night, yellow flags rained on Lambeau Field like leaves in October. The Green Bay Packers couldn't protect the quarterback and couldn't pressure the quarterback, but coach Mike McCarthy got them out of their funk by going to a no-huddle offense for the No. 1 offense's third possession. It worked like a charm, with Aaron Rodgers leading a rapid-fire drive that he capped with a playoff-worthy 20-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings.
That drive, and a long touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter, helped the Packers beat the Arizona Cardinals 28-20 on Friday night.
The Packers trailed 6-0, with Kevin Kolb leading the Cardinals to field goals on two of his three possessions. While the defense didn't get a speck of pressure against Kolb, the offense couldn't get out of its own way. On their second possession, Rodgers was forced to scramble once and was sacked twice.
Everything changed when the Packers took the ball at their 22 with 8:16 left in the half as McCarthy turned to a no-huddle offense to revive a listless offense for the second consecutive preseason game. Facing a Cardinals defense that had replaced some of its starters, Rodgers hit Donald Driver for 12 yards and Ryan Grant, showing signs of his vintage form, burst through an opening for 9. Rodgers then hit Jermichael Finley for gains of 6, 7 and 17 yards on consecutive plays. After Grant ran for 7, Rodgers threw a gem of a back-shoulder pass to Jennings, who made the grab at the pylon against safety Hamza Abdullah for the touchdown.
"I felt like we did better things on offense but we had too many penalties and just a couple of conversions that we didn't pick up," Rodgers said. "But the third drive felt good. We moved the ball well and guys made some plays and we got in the end zone."
Green Bay made it 14-6 on its next drive with a 39-yard drive, with the key play being a 25-yard screen to third-round pick Alex Green, who got a great block from center Nick McDonald and broke through a couple tackle attempts to get to the 2. One play later, Green bowled into the end zone behind McDonald, sixth-round guard Caleb Schlauderaff and veteran fullback Quinn Johnson.
While Rodgers and Flynn were sacked three times in the first half, the Cardinals were guilty of nine penalties. They made it 10 by being offside on the second-half kickoff which, appropriately for the night, the Packers' Diondre Borel fumbled away on the rekick. The Cardinals turned it into a touchdown, with Stephen Williams making a one-handed grab in the end zone against Sam Shields.
The Packers trailed 20-14 entering the fourth quarter but, on the first snap at the period, Matt Flynn hit Chastin West for a 97-yard touchdown to give Green Bay a 21-20 lead. Cornerback Desja Dunn was caught peeking into the backfield and West ran right by him, catching the ball at the 27 and going untouched the final 73 yards.
West had catches of 10 and 19 yards from Graham Harrell on the next drive, which Harrell capped with a 6-yard touchdown to Kerry Taylor that made it 28-20 with 5:03 remaining. Harrell completed 6-of-8 passes on the 84-yard drive, with one of the incompletions hitting Taylor between the "1" and the "3" on the back of his jersey.
The Cardinals threatened to answer with a touchdown but Brandian Ross, an undrafted cornerback who had a pick-six on Family Night, picked off an ill-advised pass in the end zone.
-- The Packers' inactives: WR Shaky Smithson (shoulder), WR Brett Swain (hamstring), S Brandon Underwood (knee), CB Davon House (hamstring), S Anthony Levine (concussion), TE Spencer Havner (hamstring), RB James Starks (ankle), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), G Adrian Battles (Achilles), T Chris Campbell (knee), DE Lawrence Guy (concussion), DE Mike Neal (knee).
-- As expected, T.J. Lang got the start at left guard. With the starters, Lang played the first and third series, with Sherrod the second series. On the fourth possession, Lang replaced Chad Clifton at left tackle with Sherrod at left guard. On Green Bay's first drive of the second half, Sherrod was at left tackle and Lang at left guard.
-- Frank Zombo and Erik Walden started at outside linebacker with Matthews out. Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Frank So'oto has passed sixth-round pick Ricky Elmore on the depth chart, with So'oto joining Brad Jones as the No. 2 tandem.
-- Former Packers guard Daryn Colledge was one of the Cardinals' captains.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.