Packers sending a message

The Packer's starting defense is using this preseason campaign to give future opponents fair warning. After serving as the bright spot last week, the defense continued to impress in the Pack's 29-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals on a hot Saturday night in Sun Devil Stadium.<P>

Arizona had eight first-half possessions against most of the starters. Of those campaigns, five resulted in punts, two ended in Packer take-aways, while just one resulted in a TD after Ahman Green's fumbled the ball to the Cards on the doorstep of the red zone.

"I was pleased with our defensive effort. I thought they did a fine job. I was disappointed on the sudden change on the turnover on our 20 that we allowed them to score that touchdown, but other than that I thought they played very well," coach Mike Sherman said.

One of the most impressive stats of the night was Arizona's first-half rushing, or lack of it. Green Bay's starting defense limited Arizona to one yard rushing in the first half. The Cards could only must 102 total yards and were held to 1-of-5 on third-down conversions before halftime.

The pass rush continued to send a formidable message. The parade of seven sacks included Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Billy Lyon, Steve Warren, Jared Tomich, Hardy Nickerson, Vonnie Holliday, and Aaron Kampman. Last week Cletidus Hunt netted the first sack of the game for the Packers. Saturday he earned the first tackle-for-loss, wrapping up Thomas Jones for a loss of three yards. More first-half highlights: Na'il Diggs escaped a block to wrap-up Jones for a loss. While on his back, Diggs stripped the ball from Jones – who had yet to touch the ground – and Vonnie Holliday recovered the fumble (1:28, 1st quarter). Arizona challenged the ruling, but instant replay confirmed the call on the field resulting in possession to Green Bay at the Cardinals 24-yard-line. Donald Driver scored a TD on the ensuing drive. After another Diggs' tackle for loss, Nickerson and Gbaja-Biamila dropped Arizona quarterback Jake Plummer on successive plays for a pair of sacks to start the second quarter and force a Cardinal punt.

"I'm really proud of our defense," Sherman said. "I thought we continued to put pressure on the quarterback. We forced five turnovers and were able to pressure the quarterback with a four-man rush, as well as we also had a six-man now and then.

On top of the seven sacks, Green Bay came up with three interceptions to complete their domination of the Cards' passing game.

"We feel our defense is coming along," safety Darren Sharper said. "I don't think a lot of people know how strong our defense can be -- we might not even know how strong our defense can be. We're going to keep playing, keep flying around. We've got some guys that have the energy, and that's what we need to continue to play at a high level.

"I tell you what, you look all around, we have experience in the secondary, we've got Hardy in the middle, the two guys outside of him have a lot of experience and then you look at the guys up front," Sharper said. "I think our front four is really going to take over a lot of games."

Defensive back Erwin Swiney led tackling with four, but unfortunately made more of a splash with an egregious error. Early in the fourth quarter, backup wide receiver Jason McAddley caught a Preston Parsons pass near midfield, sliding to the ground in the process. However, while Swiney and George White stood by, McAddley jumped to his feet before he was touched down. The play turned from a garden-variety reception into a 74-yard touchdown reception that brought the Cardinals to within 29-21.

Sherman commented on whether he was pleased with the backup defense's performance:

"Not really, not at the end of the game," Sherman said. "We lost the fourth quarter there and gave up some big plays, so no, not really. That screen play it looked like no one was even there and then the pass for the touchdown, he went down to the ground and we went right by and didn't down him, that's really frustrating."

Torrance Marshall had an interception, three tackles and two special teams tackles. Another bright spot among the backups was cornerback Hurley Tarver. The former NFL Europe and XFL standout intercepted two passes in the third quarter. After the second, Tarver fended off the referee to retrieve the ball to take home as a souvenir.

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