Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson races 100 yards with an interception Saturday night. The play was called back on a penalty.
The Cardinals' dramatic 26-20 overtime win over the Packers was a dream come true for Patrick Peterson, who emerged victorious in the playoffs for the first time.
The All-Pro cornerback had another other dream – this one quite literal – that finished just short of reality.
Peterson picked off Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown,
pulling off the rare feat of a defensive player reaching the end zone – and it was something he saw coming.
"I told the defensive back guys, I had a dream that I was scoring against someone with yellow pants on," Peterson said. "It was a possibility that it was either going to be Washington or Green Bay. I told them before this game even happened."
Unfortunately for Peterson, the play was called back when defensive tackle Frostee Rucker was penalized for illegal hands to the face. The Packers retained possession and Peterson's fulfilled premonition vanished.
"I just wanted to get in the end zone," Peterson said. "I told Frostee, 'You owe me one.'"
The Cardinals would have taken a 14-0 lead on the play, but instead the Packers pulled to within 7-3 after finishing the drive with a field goal. Coach Bruce Arians said the pick-six would have changed the complexion of the game, but "it was a good call. He grazed his face mask."
It was one of three crucial penalties which took away big plays. Rodgers found Randall Cobb for a 51-yard gain late in the first quarter but it was wiped off because of an illegal shift on tackle Bryan Bulaga (to add injury to insult, Cobb hurt his chest on the reception and never returned).
Wide receiver John Brown looked like he scored a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but it was called back because of an illegal blindside block by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
A DOUBLE COIN FLIP TO START OVERTIME
The Cardinals won the overtime coin flip – twice. The Packers called tails when the coin went up and it came down in the Cardinals' favor, but a re-do was called by referee Clete Blakeman because the coin didn't complete even one revolution.
"It left his hand and it didn't flip over even one half of a flip," said long snapper Mike Leach, one of the captains out at midfield. "Straight up, straight down and landed. It stuck on heads, so we assumed it was our ball. They were complaining that it never flipped over, and he said he had to flip it again."
The Cardinals chose to receive after the second toss again landed on heads, and the Packers never saw the ball as Fitzgerald scored a touchdown on the first possession of overtime. Rodgers was hoping to get the benefit of a new call on the second flip but it wasn't granted.
"I think he was just trying to avoid the embarrassment of what just happened and flip it quickly," Rodgers said.
RODGERS UNDER LESS PRESSURE
Rodgers was under considerably less duress than the first meeting, when the Cardinals defense sacked him eight times. The pressure was good late as the Packers were in clear passing situations, but linebacker Dwight Freeney had the lone sack of the day.
Rodgers finished 24-of-44 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, including the game-tying Hail Mary on the last play of regulation. He spent the final drive continually wriggling free from potential sacks.
"He's mobile," linebacker Markus Golden said. "Aaron Rodgers, people think he's like a Tom Brady guy or a Peyton Manning. He can move and he can throw the ball from the pocket. That dude, he's a good player."
CATANZARO CORRECTS KICKS
Second-year kicker Chandler Catanzaro had to stew over a pair of missed kicks – one field goal and one extra point – after the regular season finale, and Arians said afterward that he held his breath during every attempt.
Catanzaro was perfect against the Packers when the Cards needed every point, hitting field goals from 28 and 36 yards while connecting on both of his extra point tries.
"He kicked well," Arians said. "I'd like to see his kickoffs all go out of the back of the end zone where they normally do, though."
CALLING ALL GREEN BAY RECEIVERS
The Packers lost leading receiver Jordy Nelson to a torn ACL in the preseason, and Davante Adams didn't play against the Cardinals after hurting his knee in last week's Wild Card win over Washington.
Once Cobb went down, it seemed like the Green Bay offense would be in dire straits, but a pair of seldom-used receivers stepped in. Jeff Janis had seven catches for 145 yards – including the game-tying Hail Mary reception – and Jeff Abbrederis added four catches for 55 yards.
"The guys still gutted it out," Rodgers said. "You had guys in spots that they hadn't been in all season, running routes they hadn't run all year."