Beat-Up Packers Streaking into Bye

Neal sacks Skelton (Jeff Hanisch/USP)

Green Bay, which lost Bryan Bulaga, Clay Matthews and Jordy Nelson again, beat the Cardinals for their fourth consecutive win. The big play was Aaron Rodgers' touchdown pass to Tom Crabtree on the final play of the third quarter.

Aaron Rodgers was everywhere on a day when the Green Bay Packers needed their MVP quarterback most.

And when it wasn't Rodgers, it was Tom Crabtree.

The Packers, with the start of a great team sitting on the sideline because of injuries and in the process of frittering away a 24-7 lead, got a 72-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree on the final play of the third quarter. That put the Packers ahead 31-17 and on their way to a 31-17 victory – their fourth in a row, putting them at 6-3 and into a desperately needed bye week.

Green Bay led 21-7 at halftime but allowed the Cardinals to hang around far too long. Its first three possessions of the second half started at its 48-yard line on Randall Cobb's kickoff return, Arizona's 17 on Erik Walden's interception and midfield on a bad punt. The Packers got no first downs and just three points to show for it, a chip-shot field goal after the turnover.

The allowed the Cardinals to rally. Larry Fitzgerald turned a short third-down conversion into a 31-yard touchdown when he ran through Dezman Moses, Tramon Williams and M.D. Jennings. A third-and-1 stop from the 2-yard line helped the Packers escape with just a field goal at the end of a 74-yard drive, but that made it 24-17 with 50 seconds to go in the quarter.

That set the stage for the Rodgers-to-Crabtree connection. On second-and-4, Crabtree lined up at fullback, ran a circle route against linebacker Paris Lenon and beat William Gay to the end zone for the longest catch by a Packers tight end since Paul Coffman in 1979.

With Greg Jennings out for a fifth consecutive game, Jordy Nelson returning after a one-week absence only to exit on the second series, Bryan Bulaga taken to the locker room with a hip injury and Cobb temporarily sidelined after getting drilled on a punt return, Rodgers had limited options.

Rodgers finished 14-of-30 – his first sub-50 percent game since losing at Kansas City last season. He was brilliant during the first half, however, as the Packers took a 21-7 lead. He completed 11-of-19 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns, and added 36 yards on scrambles.

Rodgers had runs of 25 and 9 yards on the opening touchdown drive, which he punctuated with a 13-yard, quick-hitting touchdown pass to Cobb, who followed blocks by Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley on the third-and-goal play.

On the second touchdown drive, drops by Crabtree and Driver made it third-and-10. Driver converted with a bobbling, 10-yard catch, and Rodgers hit Cobb for a 21-yard touchdown that put Green Bay in front 14-7.

On the third touchdown drive, James Starks fumbled but Rodgers saved the day with a hustling, diving fumble recovery. On the first play after the two-minute warning, Rodgers went deep to James Jones, who made a sensational, 28-yard touchdown catch over rookie corner Jamell Fleming.

The only blemish on Rodgers' first-half record was an interception in which William Gay stole the ball from Cobb after it appeared Cobb had made a tumbling catch. John Skelton hit Andre Robert for 40 yards and LaRod Stephens-Howling ran around right end for the 1-yard score.

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