Glendale, Ariz. — Arizona’s overtime win over the Green Bay Saturday night featured much more than Aaron Rodgers’ latest “Hail Mary” and the Cardinals’ “Hail Larry.”
There was Patrick Peterson’s 100-yard interception return that didn’t count, Randall Cobb’s one-handed 51-yard catch called back by offsetting penalties and much, much more.
It was a bizarre night in the desert when the Cardinals escaped with a 26-20 overtime victory Saturday night.
And that’s not even counting Rodgers’ jaw-dropping finish to regulation or Larry Fitzgerald’s 75-yard catch and run to set up his winning score.
Just to get the game to that point, Rodgers managed to pass for 101 yards — on two completions — in the final 55 seconds of the fourth quarter.
Even more astounding, it was fourth-and-20 from the Packers 4 when Rodgers took the snap and retreated into his end zone, scrambling to his left and finally letting the pass fly.
Jeff Janis, a former Saginaw Valley State standout who stands 6-foot-3, pulled it down at the Arizona 36, a 60-yard gain.
The Packers were out of timeouts, and they weren’t set on the next snap. With 21 seconds to go, the ball was pushed back to the Cardinals 41. A short pass attempt fell incomplete and there were just 5 seconds left.
It was enough time for a final heave to the end zone, where Janis outjumped All-Pro cornerback Peterson and safety Rashad Johnson to bring the ball down as the Packers fans went crazy and the Cardinals faithful fell silent.
Janis hadn’t had a TD catch in his career until he had two Saturday night.
He was seeing extensive action because Davante Adams was out because of a knee injury and Cobb was knocked out of the game because of a chest injury sustained on a spectacular one-handed grab of Rodgers’ 51-yard pass in the first quarter, a play that was negated by offsetting penalties.
Arizona coach Bruce Arians provided Rodgers enough time for the “Hail Mary” finish to regulation by, with his team leading 17-13, choosing to have Carson Palmer throw a pass on second-and-8 from the Green Bay 22 with 2:34 to play, rather than running the ball to run out more time.
Did he regret it?
“Oh, hell no,” Arians said. “I never regret a call. … I play to win. Ten-point game, it’s over.”
On the first play of overtime, Palmer rolled to his right to evade tacklers, then spotted Fitzgerald alone on the far side of the field.
Fitzgerald, who set a franchise record with 109 catches this season, broke a handful of tackles as he made his way 75 yards downfield to the Green Bay 5.
Two plays later, he lined up in the backfield and took a shovel pass for the winning score.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run that shovel in practice and just waiting for my opportunity,” Fitzgerald said.
Arizona caught a break to take the lead in the first place.
In the fourth quarter, with the ball at the Packers 9, Palmer threw toward Fitzgerald at about the 2. But defender Damarious Randall deflected it. The ball sailed into the end zone — and right into the hands of Arizona’s Michael Floyd.
In the second quarter, Peterson’s 100-yard interception return was negated by a penalty.
“It was nuts,” Fitzgerald said. “It was nuts.”
Coin flip explained
While there’s no NFL rule specifying the need for another coin flip, referee Clete Blakeman used his judgment to determine “basic fairness” dictated the coin should be re-tossed before the start of overtime Saturday night, according to league spokesman Michael Signora.
When Blakeman tossed the coin, it never actually flipped after the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers called “tails.”
The coin landed on the ground on “heads.” Blakeman picked up the coin and re-flipped it, but Rodgers said after Green Bay’s 26-20 loss that he would have called “heads” on the second toss.
Signora says in an email to The Associated Press on Sunday a team “gets only one choice to declare heads or tails.”
Packers receiver Randall Cobb has been released from the hospital after suffering a chest injury.
... Chiefs coach Andy Reid says his team experienced problems with their headsets during Saturday’s playoff loss in New England, though they worked fine in the crucial final minutes of the game.
Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, a former Lion, suffered a neck injury.
Seahawks offensive tackle Russell Okung dislocated his left shoulder.