Nothing good comes from Packers' bad loss to Cardinals

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two bad football teams showed up at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

And they played like it.

One of them, the Arizona Cardinals, were supposed to be bad with a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback.

The other, the Green Bay Packers, were 13.5-point favorites, and at one time were considered Super Bowl contenders with a veteran head coach and a two-time NFL MVP quarterback.

Thirteen weeks into the season, there wasn’t much difference between them.

So the fact that the Steve Wilks-coached, Josh Rosen-quarterbacked Cardinals foiled the Mike McCarthy-coached, Aaron Rodgers-quarterbacked Packers 20-17 only cemented both teams in their rightful spots near the bottom of the NFL.

At least the Cardinals (3-9) can say they’re in rebuilding mode.

It was the Packers' third-largest upset loss in the Super Bowl era and the worst since 1967, when they were 20-point favorites and lost to the Vikings.

The Packers (4-7-1) now might have to start that same rebuilding process, and given their uninspired performance with the season on the line, that might include major organizational changes. If McCarthy’s job was on the line going into this week, then where is it after this one?

"We didn’t play well today," McCarthy said. "I’m not going to sit up here and try to sugarcoat it. I’m not going to sit here and go through analytics. I didn’t do a good enough job today. I thought we were ready for the game. I felt coming into it, the meeting structure and so forth, we just were not sharp enough, and you know, you can make a case they made one more play than we did. But we missed a number of opportunities throughout the game."

Rodgers didn’t magically renew missed connections with open receivers. Jimmy Graham didn’t all of a sudden regain his lost athleticism. And McCarthy’s offense didn’t avoid their "unfortunate, typical lull," as Rodgers said a week after the Packers' loss at Minnesota.

On third down, a problem all year, Green Bay failed on nine straight attempts at one point.

You’ll hear all about the difficult weather conditions, but the pregame snow that turned to rain was mostly gone for the bulk of the game. Sure, the winds gusted north of 30 miles per hour. If that was such a factor, then where was running back Aaron Jones? He touched the ball 11 times in the first half and then all but disappeared until midway through the fourth quarter.

Not exactly an afternoon that will galvanize a team.

If the Packers were going to show the NFL they weren’t as bad as their record indicated, Rodgers would have hit Davante Adams in stride for a 59-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. Instead, he overthrew it to the point where a wide-open Adams couldn’t even get a hand on it. At least last Sunday at Minnesota, Rodgers only missed Adams by an inch or two on an overthrown touchdown. But it might as well have been by a mile.

"This was a game that we have won in the past, expected to win," said Rodgers, who threw for 233 yards on 31 completions. The only quarterback to complete 30 passes in a game and throw for less yards this season was Nathan Peterman, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"Teams that want any shot of having some postseason success have got to win these games. Dome team, [34] degrees, snow, wind, it's playing right into our hands and we just came out flat. I feel like the energy was a little bit flat. We got it going in the second quarter, and I don't know if we felt like they were just going to roll over at that point, up 10-7, but obviously we played three series in the third quarter and didn't do anything and then we had couple decent drives in the fourth but we just didn't play very well."

If they were going to change the narrative on their season, a 36-yard pass to Randall Cobb on third-and-11 in the fourth quarter wouldn’t have been wiped out by a holding call on fill-in right tackle Jason Spriggs. That could’ve ended a streak of eight straight failures on third down. Instead, they were backed up, missed a desperation heave down the field and punted the ball back to the Cardinals, whose lead was a touchdown with 13:58 to play.

Sure, Rodgers led a game-tying touchdown drive -- highlighted by a vintage Rodgers play in which he held the ball for 9.5 seconds, stayed alive in the pocket while he directed traffic and threw a 19-yarder to Adams on the sideline to set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Jones with 5:26 left.

But the defense couldn’t hold it, allowing a go-ahead field goal with 1:41 left.

And Rodgers couldn’t win it. And Mason Crosby, with a 49-yard field goal attempt sailing wide right at the gun, couldn’t either.

"Clearly, we knew what we needed to do," Crosby said. "We needed to win these five and have some things happen for us."

Rodgers set a franchise record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception, breaking Bart Starr’s franchise record of 294. And he threw another touchdown to Adams, who caught his 11th of the season (10 of which have come in the red zone), but even good things happen to bad teams.