On Wednesday, however, the Green Bay Packers' pedal-to-the-metal approach to the first three quarters of a meaningless game appeared to be much adieu about nothing.
"No, the only thing I was chafing about was the approach of my football team and how we handled it," Whisenhunt said during a conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday. "I was disappointed with some of the things we did in the ballgame as far as how we played. It was obvious to me that Green Bay was more physical than us. That's what was very disappointing to me. I could see where he would think that I was irritated, and I was, but it certainly wasn't at Coach McCarthy or at the Packers. It was more about how we performed."
Coming out of halftime, McCarthy wanted the starters to play one more series. So, with Aaron Rodgers throwing 10 passes, the Packers marched 94 yards in 14 plays to score a touchdown to bump the advantage to 33-0.
"I thought he actually ran the ball quite a bit in the second half, trying to take time off the clock," Whisenhunt said. "I didn't think anything out of the ordinary with that. He was, I'm sure, working on things for his game plan and his preparation for this week. There's not a lot to complain about from his perspective I would think about what they did. They accomplished what they wanted to get done and they played well. I think it speaks to their season and how well they played, especially in the second half."
Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner played sparingly on Sunday and the Packers' defense played it mostly vanilla, but Warner was subjected to a lot of blitzing in the preseason game. When it was starters vs. starters, the Packers led 38-10 and Warner was sacked twice. The Cardinals, like most teams, don't game plan for preseason games.
Warner, however, said he was fine with the Packers' approach in both games.
"This is a new defense, a new scheme, and I think you have to use preseason to figure out what you have, what you can do well," he said during his conference call. "Sometimes, you use it just to throw a bunch of things at the teams that you're going to be playing against. So, I don't read too much into that. Preseason is preseason. If somebody wants to game plan for preseason, great, then whatever. I think there's just different approaches to a lot of different things, and I'm just not one to get hung up with all of those things. I'm not going to get mad at another team because they blitzed me a lot in preseason or because, like last week, they come out and play their starters when we (didn't). That's their prerogative, and they're doing what they think is best to make them a great football team, and I respect that. They've played really well, especially down the stretch, they've played some great football, and nobody can say that it's not because of how they came out and played and prepared in some of those games."
Before Warner was a Super Bowl champion — before Warner was stocking shelves at a grocery store or slinging passes in the Arena League — Warner was an undrafted rookie quarterback out of Northern Iowa who was toiling away in the Packers' training camp in 1994.
"You know, I did, and a lot of people kind of think I'm crazy when I say that, but I probably left with more confidence in regards to I had the ability to play at that level than I did when I went in there," Warner said. "Mentally, I probably left a little more discouraged because not knowing if I would get another opportunity and even though I felt like I was talented enough, getting cut in that situation, I think there was some discouragement from a mental standpoint, just would I get another chance?
"But, from the physical aspect and me believing that I had what it took to play at this level, yeah, I think there's no question that I left there with more confidence because of watching Brett and competing against him and also Mark and Ty and knowing what they had accomplished in their careers and the kind of quarterbacks they were, that I felt like I measured up well with those guys. Not saying that I was better by any means or could do anything better, but that I was in the same ballpark. So when I left, I really felt good with the fact that if I got the right opportunity and somebody gave me a chance, that I really believed that I had what it took to make it."
Packers injury report
Full — LB Brandon Chillar (back); FB Korey Hall (elbow). Limited participation — T Chad Clifton (knee); DE Johnny Jolly (foot); DE Michael Montgomery (ankle); NT Ryan Pickett (hamstring); CB Charles Woodson (shoulder). Did not participate — S Derrick Martin.
McCarthy said Woodson's shoulder won't be an issue on Sunday and his workweek will be the same as it's been for the second half of the season, meaning he should be a full participant on Thursday. Pickett had a "solid day's work, without seeing him on film," McCarthy said. The only player who didn't practice is Martin, but McCarthy hasn't ruled him out.
Cardinals injury report
Full participation — RB Tim Hightower (knee); DE Kenny Iwebema (head); FB Dan Kreider (neck); WR Sean Morey (head); K Neil Rackers (groin). Limited participation — DE Calais Campbell (thumb); G Deuce Lutui (back); TE Ben Patrick (head); QB Brian St. Pierre (back). Did not participate — WR Anquan Boldin (ankle); CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe/knee); S Antrel Rolle (thigh).
Neither Bolden nor Rodgers-Cromartie practiced. Bolden said he's "progressing" while Rodgers-Cromartie said he'd have to practice on Thursday to play on Sunday.
"I've seen him come back from so much, how tough he is and how competitive he is, and I've also seen different injuries that have nagged him for awhile," Warner said of Boldin, who missed only two games after requring surgery to put his face back together last year at the Jets. "Not that he can't play or doesn't play through them, but he hasn't been as effective because he hasn't been healthy. I think that's going to be the biggest question, not his heart or his toughness or whether he could play with the injury. I think it's going to be how far has it come and how successful can he be, how much of what Q is can he bring to the table this week? That's the bigger question. There's no doubt in my mind, mentally and from a toughness standpoint that he'll be out there. It's just a matter of what he's going to be able to do. I don't really know at this point."
— The first practice of the playoff season went well, McCarthy said. "I thought there was a lot of energy in the building yesterday and today in the meetings. But I thought the practice was very blue-collar like. We were 11 minutes ahead of schedule, so that's the pace and tempo we wanted to practice at today when I addressed the team this morning as far as what we needed to get done today. I have not viewed the film, but walking off the field, I thought it was a good day of work."
— The Packers enjoyed a relative homefield advantage last week in Arizona but that probably won't happen this time, with the Cardinals selling tickets for the first 24 hours only to fans with an Arizona mailing address.
"Coming out in pregame was unbelievable," McCarthy said. "There was all green and gold around the railings. Their crowd came a little later. I know our players enjoyed the pregame. It was a very friendly atmosphere. It really wasn't very loud. It was loud probably the first couple series, but after that, you heard 'Go Pack Go' throughout the second, third and fourth quarter. This Sunday will be a totally different environment. It will be a playoff environment. I'm sure their crowd will be in full force, and we anticipate, once again, we're going to practice crowd noise, so we're anticipating a loud environment."
— The Packers' 7-1 record during the second half of the season was topped only by San Diego's 8-0.
— Green Bay and Minnesota are the only teams that rank in the top six in offense and defense. The Packers are No. 2 on defense and No. 6 on offense. Minnesota is No. 5 on offense and No. 6 on defense.
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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.