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Packers pound Cardinals 33-7 in playoff preview

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BOB BAUM
January 3, 2010
— For the second time this year, the Green Bay Packers handled the Arizona Cardinals easily in a game where not much was at stake.

Now comes the real thing, a first-round playoff game.


Just how much the Packers' 33-7 rout of the Cardinals on Sunday meant depended on who was asked.


"It's definitely important," Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "We definitely feel like we have momentum, to come here to win in this fashion. I forget what the score was it was a lot to a little."


Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, however, said the game "kind of really didn't mean anything."


"I guess if they want to celebrate it they can go ahead," Dockett said. "But us personally, we know we've got some work to do and our main focus is next weekend."


The Packers (11-5) roll into next Sunday's playoff game at Arizona winners of seven of their last eight after a 4-4 start. They have scored 36, 48 and 33 in their last three games.


Aaron Rodgers played three quarters, largely against the Arizona reserves, completing 21 of 26 passes for 235 yards and his 30th touchdown of the season.


"Aaron Rodgers has an arm as good as anybody's," Cardinals cornerback Ralph Brown said, "maybe as good or better than Brett Favre when he was in his prime."


Rodgers said he didn't think about the risk of injury.


"Injuries happen at random times, it doesn't matter what week," he said. "Could be Week 1 or Week 17. ... I think you've got to play to win every week. From a momentum standpoint, that's what we wanted to do."


Green Bay won at Arizona in the preseason 44-37, leading that one 38-10 at halftime.


"We put together five quarters with our first offense of very good play," Rodgers said of those two games.


The coaches took vastly different approaches to Sunday's game.


Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was cautious, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy kept the Packers at full bore most of the day.


"I'm not going to stand here and act like I have all the answers," McCarthy said. "But I have the pulse of my football team. Our football team needed to stay on course. ... I thought it was important to take this last opportunity to make sure that we were playing the best we possibly could coming out of the regular season."


Whisenhunt said he had two game plans ready. The one he would use was determined by the outcome of the Minnesota-New York Giants game. When the Vikings won, ending any chance for Arizona to get a No. 2 seed, Whisenhunt opted for the bland option.


"I can't speak to what they were doing," Whisenhunt said of the Packers. "I know we had a plan going in about what we were going to do if the situation was the way it ended up being. It was very difficult to stick to that plan. All I can say is hopefully it will pay off for us next week."


Arizona lost standout cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a bruised left kneecap on the third play of the game. He insisted he would play next weekend.


"It's feeling a whole lot better than when it first happened," he said. "It's just real sore."


Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (ankle) and defensive end Calais Campbell (thumb) also were injured for the Cardinals.


Charles Woodson, who later left with a shoulder injury that McCarthy said wasn't serious, returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.


"Just when he was walking off the field he told me right then 'I'll be fine,'" McCarthy said. "So I wasn't concerned after that."


Woodson's interception return for a TD was his third of the season, a franchise record.


He also broke the Packers' record with his eighth career defensive touchdown since joining the team in 2006 seven interceptions and one fumble return. He had shared the mark with Herb Adderly (1961-69) and Darren Sharper (1997-2004).


Woodson set a career best with his ninth pick of the season. He has 45 in his career.


Arizona barely avoided its first shutout loss since the second week of the 2003 season.


Brown intercepted Matt Flynn's pass and returned it 80 yards to Packers 6. After a penalty, Brian St. Pierre threw his first NFL touchdown pass on the next play, a 3-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald with 2:59 to play.


Notes: Rodgers fell 26 yards shy of the Packers' single-season record for yards passing. ... Boldin passed 1,000 yards receiving for a franchise record fifth time. ... The Cardinals' Ben Graham had three punts inside the 20, tying the record of 42 for a season set by San Francisco's Andy Lee in 2007. ... Fitzgerald, who played the entire game, set a career high with his 13th TD catch of the season.



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