Punchless Packers Drop Preseason Opener

Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense mounted a good possession but couldn't punch it in, and Graham Harrell and the backups turned over the ball twice to lead to touchdowns in a 17-0 loss to Arizona on Friday night. The Packers finished with eight consecutive punts.

The Green Bay Packers' front-line players performed well in a 17-0 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason opener for both clubs on Friday night at Lambeau Field.

The Cardinals turned two first-half turnovers into touchdowns, and the Packers' backups did almost nothing on offense with two turnovers and eight consecutive punts. Green Bay had just 78 yards in the final three quarters.

"Well, just what I told the football team, obviously on offense we've got to take care of the football. And finish drives," coach Mike McCarthy said at halftime. "We've been moving the ball, a lot of productivity, but we've got to finish drives and get the points. Defensively, we need to tackle better, tighten up the coverage. We need to take away the football."

After Green Bay's No. 1 defense allowed one first down and forced a punt to start the game, Aaron Rodgers led a strong possession that stalled at the goal line. Rodgers, who finished 3-of-5 for 62 yards, hit Jeremy Ross for 5 yards on third-and-1 and lofted a pinpoint pass to James Jones on third-and-2 for a gain of 50 to the 6-yard line.

A first-down run by James Starks moved the ball the 2, but the drive died when Rodgers missed Jones on a pick play and Jermichael Finley couldn't haul in a pass against tight coverage from safety Rashad Johnson. On fourth-and-goal, it appeared Starks stuck the ball over the goal line before being taken down but he was deemed short of the end zone and a replay challenge confirmed the ruling on the field.

"I thought we moved the ball pretty well," Rodgers said. "We would have liked to get that last one in. It looked like James might have been able to stick it over the line there with his knee up. We moved the ball, converted a third down, but wish we could have had some points there."

That would be it for Rodgers, with Graham Harrell and the No. 2 offensive line (with the exception of left tackle David Bakhtiari) entering for the second series. After a third-and-7 completion to D.J. Williams gained a first down, Harrell was intercepted by Patrick Peterson. Ross ran his route to the sideline and Harrell threw the ball inside, where it went right to Peterson.

That gave the Cardinals the ball on the Packers' 38, and Carson Palmer hit Andre Roberts for a touchdown over Davon House on the next play.

Harrell put together a nice drive on the ensuing possession but he was sacked by veteran John Abraham, who blew past right tackle Marshall Newhouse, and fumbled. The Cardinals capitalized with a 52-yard touchdown drive, with Drew Stanton lobbing the ball over Micah Hyde and to Jaron Bown for a 1-yard score on third-and-goal.

Backup quarterback Graham Harrell went 12-of-19 for 76 yards. He picked up five first downs on six possessions. Rodgers led the offense to 86 yards on his first possession; the Packers had 107 more yards through three quarters.

Vince Young was the third quarterback in the game. He moved the team to two first downs on his opening possession but none on the other. He finished 1-of-3 for 7 yards, rushed twice for 12 yards and was sacked. B.J. Coleman entered with about 5 minutes left. He went 2-for-6 for 15 yards on his two possessions.

The Cardinals tacked on a late field goal.

The Packers were without 17 players, including Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, Casey Hayward, Tramon Williams, Bryan Bulaga, Jordy Nelson and Mike Neal. First-round pick Datone Jones joined them on the sideline with an apparent ankle injury. He played just one snap.

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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