Steve Wilks talked about the “noise” heading into the Cardinals’ game Sunday in Green Bay, and there was plenty of it. Talk about his job status, the team’s struggles after a 35-point blowout loss to the Chargers, the crappy weather the Cards were sure to see in Green Bay. (And oh yes, it was crappy. Especially in the first half).
If the Cardinals were going to quit, this would’ve been the game. But they didn’t. They haven’t. It’s ugly at times, and the rash of rookies and backups (in some cases, both) that are having to play makes it difficult on the win-loss ledger. Sometimes it feels like Larry Fitzgerald has been marginalized.
And that’s why that catch Sunday – Josh Rosen to Fitz, 32 yards to the Cardinals 44 on your play-by-play, but number one in your heart – meant so much. It meant Fitzgerald was still the guy to come up big in the big moments. It meant Rosen, sitting back at his own 12 with third-and-forever, is the kind of kid to make something happen and more importantly, believe he will make something happen.
I mean, the Lambeau Field crowd was waiting for the fold, after a first-down sack, a mishandled snap that led to an incompletion, and a delay of game on the Cardinals. Aaron Rodgers, who just took his own dormant offense on a quick TD drive to tie the game, was going to get the ball back soon and go down for the winning points.
Yet the Cardinals didn’t let him. (Ultimately costing Mike McCarthy his job.)
Yes, this jacks up the Cardinals’ chances at the No. 1 overall draft pick. I’m sure I’ll hear from some on that. But this was an impressive get, given the circumstances, regardless of where the Packers are. Because the Cards were where they were, and they are flying home with the victory.
-- Chase Edmonds was excellent. Nothing was wrong with David Johnson, as everyone saw on the final drive when the Cardinals fed him. But this coaching staff loves Edmonds. They have from the moment he stepped on the field in OTAs. What he did Sunday – not just with the touchdowns but the way he ran, powerfully, driving the pile even at his size – is why.
-- Edmonds was the first Fordham player to score a touchdown in the NFL since 1988. John Skelton threw a bunch for the Cardinals, but he never actually got into the end zone himself.
-- On a day in which the weather conditions dictated the need for a good running game by both teams, the Cardinals’ much-maligned run defense gave up less than 100 yards. The Cardinals rushed for 182 themselves.
-- That offensive line. The Cards won, and they were happy, but the starting tackles were already talking about getting better – Korey Cunningham lamented a couple of holding calls he got, and Will Holden was just trying to get over the “whirlwind” of signing Thursday and starting Sunday. When you start looking up and down the inexperience of the offensive unit right now, 20 points feels kind of remarkable.
-- The O-line may stay in flux. Mike Iupati looked to be in some pain, rolling around, when he first went down. Hopefully there is more clarity on the injury Monday. Wide receiver Christian Kirk limping off the field near the end of the game isn't great either.
-- People like to use the word “moxie” with quarterbacks, and I get that kind of intangible you want in a QB – although it usually feels like something attached to a lesser player. Still, Josh Rosen had some moxie Sunday. Consistency, not so much. But nothing fazes him.
“He understands and knows how to hit the reset button,” Wilks said.
-- Rosen’s 33-yard scramble – it looked good before he got over his skis a bit and nearly fell down face-first and did fumble the ball, albeit out of bounds – was the longest run by a Cardinals’ QB since Jake Plummer hustled 34 yards back in 2002.
-- Rodgers didn’t throw an interception, but he should have. Both Antoine Bethea and David Amerson dropped balls it looked like they could’ve (should’ve) had. Instead, Rodgers has had 336 straight passes without a pick. If you would’ve told me the Cardinals would win without forcing a turnover, I’d have said no chance.
-- Rosen should've thrown an interception too. It was dropped by Packers safety Eddie Pleasant -- who, if he doesn't sound familiar he should, because he was Rosen's teammates for a few weeks earlier this season.
-- Zane Gonzalez could be a great story for this team, and kicking a game-winner from a decent distance in those conditions is part of that story. Talking to former Cardinal Jay Feely the other day for a Gonzalez story, Feely said he really thinks Gonzalez could end up being one of those 10-plus year kickers for the Cardinals. I’m guessing Zane and the Cards wouldn’t mind that.
-- As the players and the rest of the travel party climbed on the plane tonight, it was pitch black at 5:15 p.m., the wind was whipping, the snow was smacking people in the face and it was cold. Very cold. But there were plenty of smiles. The plane ride home will be an easy one.