Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis gets behind Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel for a 60-yard completion late in the Cards' Wild Card playoff win.
There was a sigh of relief from Justin Bethel when Larry Fitzgerald scored his game-winning touchdown Saturday night. "Thank you Jesus" might have quietly escaped his lips.
After allowing Packers receiver Jeff Janis to get behind him for a 60-yard catch on fourth-and-20 – the play that allowed Green Bay to eventually score a game-tying touchdown on a Hail Mary – Bethel wasn't happy. There were a couple other moments where the Packers once again picked on the guy opposite All-Pro Patrick Peterson.
Coach Bruce Arians even said he will be watching to see how Bethel responds.
But going into Sunday's NFC Championship in Carolina, Bethel said he has no concerns about how he will react.
"After watching the film, I feel like I played a pretty good game up until that one play," Bethel said. "My biggest thing now after looking at, I have to keep playing until I hear that whistle and if I see the receiver slow down because he thinks the play is over and I slow down, he reacts and then I react to him.
"It's a new game. I'm not down on myself. What happened in the game, I can't do anything about it. I just have to do better and try and help my team win the NFC Championship."
Former teammate and current scout Adrian Wilson quietly talked to Bethel at Bethel's locker after the game. The message? Use the game as a learning experience and as fuel to improve. It wasn't the first time Bethel has felt the reality of playing across from Peterson, but it was the harshest because it was the playoffs – and also because of the situation.
"This is the first time he's had something to get over," Arians said.
Bethel was in good spirits Tuesday, understanding why he was in the media spotlight. The game Sunday is only 45 minutes from where he grew up in South Carolina, giving Bethel one more reason to look forward and not back.
"Everybody has their own opinions," Bethel said. "I actually think it's kind of funny, the things people say or write up. It doesn't bother me. You are going to make mistakes.
"When you make the plays they'll love you and when you don't make the plays, that's just how it goes. My plan next week is just make them love me again."
CAROLINA TURF IS NOT AN ISSUE
Arians shrugged off the idea of bad turf at Bank of America Stadium, saying the Cardinals just needed to be aware of
it and bring the proper shoes. The Cardinals did their research, talking to the Seahawks about what cleats should be used.
The players echoed Arians' feelings Tuesday, emphasizing they would wear the right shoes and not use the field as an excuse.
"Last year when we played them in the playoffs, it was similar," cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "It was wet, a soft field. We had to face the same thing and that was a close game until the end of the fourth quarter as well. So, the conditions aren't going to play a part on who wins or not. It's something we're definitely not even worried about. They've got to play in it just like we do."
THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING IN A ROUTINE
Because of the Saturday game, the Cardinals adjusted the early part of the week just a bit, with the players given Monday off and then coming in Tuesday for meetings and a short walkthrough. But after that, the schedule will remain the same as a regular week. Practices will come Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and because the game won't be until Sunday night, the Cards won't fly to Carolina until Saturday morning.
That's the best way to do things, said Powers, who has experience in a Super Bowl run when he was with the Colts.
"I was just telling some guys in there, some younger guys, 'Man, if you eat Burger King every Tuesday, go do it. Don't change what you do on your routine because whatever you've been doing is the reason we're at this point now,' " Powers said. "If it's anything, I'll say, 'Guys, watch a little bit more film. Do a little bit more preparation-wise, but as far as your routine, do whatever your routine is, because that's why we're at this point.'"