The NFC Divisional Game between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals should go down as the greatest game in NFL history. I don’t care that both teams were rather sluggish in the first half. I don’t care that Bruce Arians‘ time mismanagement allowed it to happen. All I care about is that I couldn’t catch my breath from the fourth quarter on as every play was absolutely insane.
With the Packers up 13-10, Carson Palmer attempted to hit Larry Fitzgerald on a slant just short of the goal line. The ball ended up being deflected over his head, but landed in the waiting arms of Michael Floyd to put the Cardinals ahead 17-13. Sure that play was mostly luck, but it was the start of the craziest finish we’ll ever witness.
With 2:42 left in the game, Mike McCarthy decides to go for it on 4th-and-10 from his own 25-yard-line and when the pass falls incomplete, it seemed as if the game was over. Instead, Arians made a shocking decision to throw a pass on second down which eventually allowed the Packers to get the ball back down 20-13 with 1:50 left on the clock instead of around a minute had he called a run.
Giving Aaron Rodgers extra time to work with is never a good idea as the Packers’ quarterback hit Jeff Janis on a 4th-and-20 play for 60 yards with 21 seconds remaining on the clock. Following an illegal shift penalty, the Packers had one play left. With that one play, Rodgers escaped pressure and threw up a Hail Mary right before getting hit hard. Somehow, Janis outfought two Cardinals’ defenders for the ball to tie the game at the end of regulation.
As both teams headed out for the coin flip, the Packers called tails and the coin landed tails, but referee Clete Blakeman said that the coin never flipped. On the second flip, the coin landed on heads which gave the ball to the Cardinals to start overtime.
Most teams would be in a state of shock following the events that just transpired, but most teams aren’t the Cardinals. On the first play of overtime, Palmer scrambled to his right and threw back across his body to a wide-open Fitzgerald who took the ball 75 yards to the 5-yard-line. Two plays later, the two would hook up again for the game-winning shovel pass.
This game showed the true beauty of sports and why they dominate our lives as much as they do. No one could’ve ever predicted that the game would turn out like it did and there’s nothing that could’ve given us the pure joy and excitement of that last half-hour of the game.
Thank you to the Cardinals and Packers for making this night a memorable one for this NFL fan.