Arizona Cardinals' Benediction: Brought To You By Michael Adams
Michael Adams, the 5'8" reserve defensive back who had been picked on repeatedly in coverage by Aaron Rodgers the past two weeks, initiated the game-winning play by causing a fumble while sacking Rodgers.
It was scooped up and run in for a touchdown by linebacker Karlos Dansby on the fourth play of overtime to bless the Cardinals with a 51-45 victory.
Miracle in the Meadowlands, Immaculate Reception, and how about Cardinals Benediction?
In an instant classic, Rodgers led Green Bay back from a 17-0 deficit with a 21-point fourth quarter to tie the game at an amazing 45. Rodgers passed for a Green Bay postseason record 422 yards with four TDs and one interception for an exceptional 121.3 quarterback rating.
The best QB rating possible is 158.3. Kurt Warner produced a 154.1 rating by completing 29 of his 33 passes for a whopping 379 yards and five touchdowns without a turnover.
With Anquan Boldin being declared inactive for the contest, the entire receiving corps stepped up. Larry Fitzgerald did his usual damage with two TDs on six catches for 82 yards including a dramatic one-handed diving snare.
Wide receivers Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and tight end Ben Patrick had their best games of the year, Breaston with the team-high seven receptions and 125 yards and a TD. He also ran for 28 yards on one carry.
Second-year receiver Doucet spelled Boldin more directly , and played like him too. The second-year pro caught six balls for 77 yards and two TDs. Patrick caught all three of the balls thrown his way for 42 yards.
Forget about the fact that the No.1 ranked rush defense of the Packers gave up 156 ground yards including 91 tough yards by rookie Beanie Wells, and that both teams combined for over 1,000 total yards even though they boast six defensive Pro Bowlers between them: Let's throw stats aside for a moment. You'd almost have to to give an honest assessment of this game.
This was a shootout in a battle of wills. Both teams showed the hearts of champions.
If there is such a thing as a character loss, this is it for the Packers. They battled back in an exciting fashion by having their way with the Arizona defense for a good portion of the game.
But by the same token, this was a character win for the Cardinals. They did not succumb to defeat even after squandering a 24-10 halftime lead. Things were looking almost like a sure defeat when Neil Rackers reverted to his Cincinnati Bengals form and badly shanked a 34-yarder at the end of regulation that would have won it, and then the Packers won the toss to begin overtime.
And then it was Adams. The DB had been much maligned in games and in fan forums for being a hair late or an inch shy. Michael Adams kept bringing the heat and battled through a long string of near-misses. Several times in the contest he had been very close to making many plays and fell short.
On the final play of the game, his persistence and determination paid off in a big way—as he made the biggest play of his life and the game-deciding play of one of the best playoff games in NFL history.
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