With award season in full effect, tonight’s divisional match-up between Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Arizona’s Carson Palmer was exactly that: award worthy.
A bobbled catch to take the lead, a hail Mary catch as time expired to send the game in to overtime and a 75 yard reception on the second play of overtime to set up a win. The game was an instant classic.
In a week 16 blowout win (38-8) against the Packers, the Cardinals defense sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times; Saturday night the Cardinals failed to sack the MVP quarterback until the final drive of the fourth quarter, a play that should have wrapped up the game for second-seeded Arizona.
But with less than two minutes remaining in the game and with the Packers down by four- Aaron Rodgers put on a minute and thirty second drama that could have earned him a Golden Globe for best male performance.
After being sacked for the first time all game inside of his own ten and time expiring, Rodgers escaped pressure to heave up a 40 yard completion on fourth down to allow the Packers one last shot at the end-zone to keep their season and Super Bowl aspirations alive.
It was only a month ago that Rodgers completed an unbelievable hail Mary throw that resulted in a win against the Detroit Lions and ended up keeping the Packers in the playoff hunt.
Surely, the former MVP couldn’t re-enact that sort of magic twice in one season.
Scrambling to his right with pressure in his face, Rodgers blindly sailed a 50 yard prayer into the end-zone as time expired. Green Bay receiver Jeff Janis, who had all but nine receptions prior to this game, backpedaled and leaped up to snatch Rodgers’ prayer. Touchdown….
The Cardinals, who mismanaged the clock on their last possession enabling Rodgers late-game miracle, found themselves in overtime against a team that had more than just momentum on their side Saturday night.
But with their offense on the field first in the overtime period after a controversial coin-flip, the Cardinals were able to brew up some magic of their own.
Taking a page out of Aaron Rodgers’ book, veteran quarterback Carson Palmer scrambled away from pressure to find a wide open Larry Fitzgerald on a broken play who then took a 10-yard reception and turned it into an iconic 75 yard gain inside Green Bays five yard line.
Two plays later, Fitzgerald scored the game winning touchdown on an inside pitch from Palmer, sending the Cardinals to the next round.
It’s one of those games that you’ll look back on and be able to remember where you were while watching.
The Cardinals, who were favored by Vegas to win this years Super Bowl, now go on to face the winner between tomorrows match-up between the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks.
With the win, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer gets his first playoff victory in his 13 year career.
At 36 years old, Carson Palmer has become the 2nd-oldest QB to earn his 1st career postseason win as a starting QB. pic.twitter.com/V7QtOFXSdg— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 17, 2016
Palmer finished the night with 349 yards along with three touchdowns and two picks.
The game-ball, however, has to be awarded to career-long Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald, who finished the game with one touchdown and 176 yards on eight receptions, none bigger than his final two in over-time that led his Cardinals to victory.
[AP Photo/Rick Scuteri]