GREEN BAY, Wis. – Tom Crabtree caught the ball at the Green Bay 45 and chugged up field, looking over one shoulder and then the other to be sure the two Arizona Cardinals who were giving chase were still behind him.
They were. Barely.
Crabtree had just enough gas to “outrace” the Cardinals, tumbling into the end zone for a 72-yard touchdown at the end of the third quarter that sealed Green Bay’s 31-17 win Sunday. Arizona had pulled within a touchdown before Crabtree’s score, but could manage only one more first down the rest of the game.
The touchdown was Green Bay’s longest play of the season, and Crabtree’s longest TD catch since “probably high school.”
“Honestly, I’m still really tired,” Crabtree said. “I need to spend this bye week doing some gassers or something.”
The Packers (6-3) take a four-game winning streak into their bye week, which they badly need after losing three more players – Clay Matthews (hamstring), Jordy Nelson (ankle) and Bryan Bulaga (hip) – to injuries during the game.
“We need to get healthy, that’s what bye weeks are for,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’re 6-3 and we’ve got time to evaluate, step back, clean some things up and get ready for ... the grind.”
Arizona (4-5) is off next weekend, too, and the Cardinals need to find a way to regroup after dropping their fifth straight. John Skelton threw for more than 300 yards, and he was able to find enough holes in the Green Bay defense for big gains time and again. But the Packers did a good job bottling up Larry Fitzgerald, and Arizona’s other receivers had too many drops.
Fitzgerald finished with six catches for 74 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown.
“That’s like a broken record. If you look at our five games that we’ve lost – which is extremely disappointing – the one thing that’s consistent is that we’ve had opportunities to make plays and we haven’t done it,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Green Bay’s a good football team. But today, in my opinion, was as much about what we didn’t do as what they did do.”
Randall Cobb had a pair of touchdown catches for the Packers, and James Jones had his eighth of the season, a career high. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have his best game, throwing for 218 yards and four touchdowns but going 14 of 30. Rodgers did break off a 25-yard run to help set up Green Bay’s first score, and jumped on a fumble to keep alive another scoring drive.
Perhaps most promising for the Packers was that their running game finally showed up. Green Bay finished with a season-high 176 yards rushing on 39 carries, its most since Oct. 25, 2009.