If you missed the Packers' first-half spanking of the defending NFC Champions at Arizona, you missed an impressive showing by quarterback Aaron Rodgers & Company. With the team's 44-37 win over the Arizona CardinalsArizona Cardinals, the Packers are 3-0 heading into the final week of the NFL preseason.
The fifth-year veteran quarterback, who is beginning only his second season as a full-time starter, confounded and frustrated the Cardinals defense during the first 30 minutes of game time. In addition to completing 14 of 19 pass attempts for 258 yards and three touchdowns, Rodgers added insult to injury with a 34-yard scamper during a rare occasion when his pocket began to collapse around him. And the Packers offense showed just how formidable they can be on a play when Rodgers avoided a potential sack by Chike Okeafor, who even had the benefit of jumping offsides, and then completed a terrific in-stride long ball to Donald Driver--who pulled in the catch despite pass interference by Antrel Rolle.
Rodgers also threaded a pass into double-coverage on a short throw, showed great patience on a 2nd-and-goal at the Cardinals' 3-yard line--looking right, left, and then right again before delivering a strike to Jermichael Finley for a score. And his play-action work was smooth and deceptive, which helped him connect on a long pass up the middle that resulted in a 76-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.
Quite simply, the Packers were unstoppable in the first half while the starters were on the field. They scored on five out of six possessions, and their only missed opportunity was due to missing a 29-yard field goal after stalling at the Cardinals' 11-yard line. Green Bay held a commanding 38-10 lead by halftime, despite a mere 27 seconds difference in time of possession between the two clubs.
While Rodgers was the star of the show, the offense as a whole rolled for 357 yards, the defense forced three turnovers, and the team drew just two penalties during the first half.
Green Bay is obviously poised for a strong start. It's a shame they have to interrupt their momentum with a fourth preseason game that the starters will mostly watch from the sidelines. They were really fun to watch.
Point 2: If he can stay healthy, Chris "Beanie" Wells could be the most exciting Cardinals rookie running back to watch since Ottis Anderson.
Beanie Wells showed veteran-level rushing skills against the Packers.
AP Photo/Ross Franklin
In the history of the Cardinals franchise, only two rookies have rushed for 1,000 yards in their debut NFL season.
Back in 1979, Ottis Anderson not only set a rookie record, but a single-season club record when he ran for 1,605 yards. And in 1993, Ronald Moore rushed for 1,018 yards. But if former Ohio State running back Beanie Wells can consistently show the skill he flashed against the Packers defense on Friday night--and stay healthy for a full 16 regular-season games--he should become the third Cardinals rookie to eclipse the 1,000-yard threshold.
Although Wells got off to a shaky start with the Cardinals, sustaining an injury on his first play in training camp, he showed a veteran-level sense of field vision and great reaction to what he was seeing as plays developed. Wells was patient as his blockers engaged attacking defenders, and then showed a well-timed burst and smooth cutting ability that is going to give NFL defenses a real challenge.
During the first half, he ran the ball just four times, but rolled up 38 yards, which included a 20-yard touchdown run. By the time he left the game, he had averaged 6.6 yards per carry for a total of 46 yards and had scored twice on just seven carries.
Point 3: Although Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell showed signs of life against the Patriots, he still has plenty to prove.
During a 27-24 loss against the Patriots on Friday night, quarterback Jason Campbell completed 13 of 22 throws (59.1 percent) for 209 yards. But Redskins fans know better than to get too excited by those statistics, since Campbell has completed just 48.6 percent of his throws over the course of his first three outings and has yet to throw a touchdown pass in the preseason.
Jason Campbell celebrates after running for a 4-yard touchdown.
AP Photo/Pablo Monsivais
To his credit, Campbell was throwing the ball with authority when he spotted an open man. He looked confident on Friday night and zipped the ball to receivers, particularly on a couple of sideline throws and on a few underneath patterns. And he used some nice scrambling ability out of the pocket to rush for a score on a 3rd-and-goal at the New England 4-yard line.
But on a couple of throws, he put his wide receivers in jeopardy, forcing them to make awkward catches that exposed them to big hits. And the Redskins don't have enough talent depth at that position to have the luxury of losing any of their top players to injury.
Campbell's showing was encouraging, but it's too early to tell whether he's getting on track or if it was yet another single-game spike in his inconsistent career.
Quick Count: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was back in a groove with wide receiver Randy Moss against the Patriots. With better pass protection overall than he enjoyed against the Bengals, Brady looked sharp, threading the ball into tight coverage and hitting receivers in stride, completing 63 percent of his throws for 150 yards and two touchdowns. After being dropped to the turf hard by Albert Haynesworth late in the second quarter, Brady didn't return to the game and appears to have a minor injury to his throwing shoulder that was downplayed by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as typical "bumps and bruises" ... Randy Moss pulled in both of Brady's touchdown throws, catching six passes on the night for 90 yards ... Third-year defensive tackle Steve Williams logged a pair of sacks against the Redskins while trying to earn a roster spot in New England ... The Redskins defense only allowed the Patriots to convert 27 percent of their third-down opportunities (3-11) ... Washington was flagged for 15 penalties for 113 yards, didn't record a single sack, but also didn't give up any turnovers ... Redskins tight end Chris Cooley rumbled 73 yards, including roughly 40 yards after the catch on one of this two receptions.
Click here for more coverage of your favorite NFL team.