Packers ground Cardinals, 31-14

Green Bay picked up where it left off in Miami and got Mike McCarthy his first victory as head coach of the Packers in Lambeau Field by whipping the hapless Arizona Cardinals 31-14 Sunday afternoon.

The Packers (3-4) won their second straight game by dominating the Cardinals from start to finish, sending reeling Arizona (1-7) to its seventh straight loss before 70,809 fans, the second largest crowd ever at Lambeau Field.

"I think we have some momentum starting," said McCarthy. "Two in a row where we played well for two weeks. I thought we played a whole football game, the way we played in all three phases."

Green Bay played turnover-free football for the first time since Oct. 23, 2005, and was solid in all three areas – offense, defense and special teams. The Packers had a season-high 203 yards rushing and 383 total yards overall as the offense continues to catch on to McCarthy's offensive scheme. Brett Favre passed for one touchdown and also rushed for a touchdown for the first time in nearly five years. The Packers have finished with no less than 121 yards rushing in each of their last three games.

"One of the things about having success, like we have in the last two weeks, is now you want to set the bar," said offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. "That's something you want to do every week. I mentioned that to them last week that this is what it is supposed to look like in getting that type of production in the run game. It helps everything else."

Ahman Green had his third 100-yard rushing game of the season, finishing with 106 yards on 21 carries, and backup Vernand Morency had a career-high 101 yards on 11 carries. It marked the first time the Packers had two 100-yard rushers in the same game since Dec. 1, 1985 - Eddie Lee Ivery and Gerry Ellis in the "Snow Bowl" against Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field.

Green had missed two games with sore hamstrings, but returned last week to rush for 118 yards in the Packers' 34-24 win over Miami. He showed no signs of slowing down against the Cardinals, which often used a five-man front in an attempt to stem the Packers' ground attack.

"I think it's safe to say he's back," said McCarthy of Green. "That's what we talk about (with the offensive scheme), one cut as a ballcarrier, and he's excellent at it."

Green says he's just starting to shift into a higher gear physically and meshing with the offensive line after spending the entire off-season rehabbing a quadriceps injury that he sustained a year ago this month.

"I'm getting more comfortable with them, my body is getting adjusted now, getting back out there," Green said. "I'm getting hit around and building up my endurance for everything. Once we get into the stretch run toward the end of the season, they're going to need me, my team is going to need me, and everybody else offensively. When we get the running game going here, it's something dangerous with a quarterback like Brett."

The Packers, in their best first half of the season, controlled the Cardinals out of the gate, especially at the line of scrimmage, gaining 15 first downs to Arizona's 3 through the first 22-plus minutes. Arizona never got past Green Bay's 47 yard line on its first four possessions while the Packers scored three touchdowns on drives on 88, 70 and 87 yards to storm to a 21-0 lead.

Arizona closed to 21-7 with 29 seconds left in the first half on running back Edgerrin James' fourth-down, 1-yard plunge into the end zone. The Packers stopped the Cardinals three straight times from the 1 before James snuck across the goal line to cap an 84-yard drive and score his third touchdown of the season.

Green Bay piled up 238 yards of offense in the first half to Arizona's 108.

"Had a good day today," said offensive tackle Chad Clifton, who missed last Sunday's game at Miami with the flu. "I'm sure we'll be able to go back and look at film and find some things that we could have done better. That's what it's all about."

Green scored two of Green Bay's first-half touchdowns on 2- and 4-yard runs to give him 51 for his career, second on Green Bay's all-time rushing list.

Green's 4-yard run early in the second quarter, gave Green Bay a 14-0 lead. Favre ignited the drive with a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Ruvell Martin, who started in place of the injured Greg Jennings (ankle), and a 22-yard pass to tight end David Martin that put the Packers on Arizona's 23. A few plays later, Favre hit wide receiver Donald Driver with a 13-yard completion to the 4, setting up Green's touchdown.

For the third straight game, Favre played in control and didn't throw an interception. He completed 17 of 25 passing attempts for 180 yards and finished with a passer rating of 102.1.

Martin caught his second touchdown pass in as many weeks as the Packers took a 7-0 lead with 5:05 left in the first quarter. The Packers moved 88 yards, and were helped by Favre's 20-yard pass to fullback Brandon Miree and Morency's 23-yard run to the 16. Consecutive pass interference penalties on Cardinals' cornerback Antrel Rolle against receiver Chris Francies gave the Packers a first-and-goal at the 1.

The Packers went 74 yards on 13 plays to open the second half, and Favre stretched Green Bay's lead to 28-7 on a 1-yard run. It was Favre's first rushing touchdown since Dec. 3, 2001 at Jacksonville. He celebrated with a rare Lambeau Leap into the corner of the stands in the south end zone.

Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart was under pressure most of the game. The Packers sacked the rookie four times, including two by defensive end Aaron Kampman, who raised his season total to 8.5 sacks.

Leinart's 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Troy Walters pulled the Cardinals to 28-14 late in the third quarter, but that was as close as Arizona would get.

Kicker Dave Rayner capped Green Bay's scoring by making a 42-yard field goal midway through the final quarter.

"We've won three football games," said McCarthy. "We're a team that's improving every week. We're a team that's getting better. We're a team that's starting to play with some momentum. That's how you win in this league. (Arizona) is a very talented football team. They challenged us schematically. I know they have a rookie quarterback, but that was a dangerous opponent that we played today. We feel very good about the direction we're going as a team."


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