NFL: Rodgers shreds Cardinals backups in 33-7 rout
AP Sports Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers knew well before kickoff that they would be playing each other again on the same field in a few days.
The Cardinals can only hope this wasn't a preview of that first-round playoff matchup.
Aaron Rodgers, playing mostly against the Arizona reserves, shredded the Cardinals in a 33-7 Packers rout on Sunday.
Rodgers played three quarters, completing 21 of 26 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown.
Charles Woodson returned an interception 45 yards for another score as the Packers (11-5) won for the seventh time in eight games.
It was the most one-sided home loss for Arizona in coach Ken Whisenhunt's three seasons with the Cardinals.
Arizona (10-6) sat quarterback Kurt Warner after one quarter. Backup Matt Leinart completed 13 of 21 passes for 96 yards and was intercepted twice.
Most of Arizona's first-team defense played only one possession.
Whisenhunt took a cautious approach in terms of a game plan, not showing much of what he would use next week, while Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy chose to play the Packers' usual high-powered game.
Woodson left the game with a shoulder injury late in the first half. Arizona cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (bruised left knee) and wide receiver Anquan Boldin (right ankle) also were injured in the game.
On the possession before he left, Woodson picked off Leinart's errant pass and raced down the left sideline, diving in for the touchdown to make it 26-0 with 4½ minutes left in the half.
It was his third interception return for a TD this 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.
Ralph Brown intercepted Matt Flynn's pass and returned it 80 yards to Cardinals 8. Brian St. Pierre threw his first NFL touchdown pass on the next play, an 3-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald, with 2:59 to play.
Arizona's hopes for a No. 2 seed ended with Minnesota's victory over the New York Giants earlier in the day. That assured a Cardinals-Packers first-round playoff matchup. The only question was seeding. Arizona is No. 4, Green Bay No. 5.
Rodgers directed touchdown drives on Green Bay's first two possessions.
Rodgers-Cromartie, selected to the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season, was carted off the field with a left knee injury less than two minutes into the game. It turned out to be a bruise, but Rodgers-Cromartie did not play again.
His replacement, Michael Adams, figured prominently in Green Bay's first two TDs.
A 28-yard pass interference penalty against Adams moved the ball to the Cardinals 1, where Ryan Grant scored. The next time the Packers had the ball, Adams was the defender on a 51-yard pass to Jordy Nelson, again to the 1. Rodgers sneaked over from there to make it 14-0 with 2:41 still left to play in the first quarter.
After Steve Breaston unadvisedly fielded a punt at the Cardinals 2, guard Reggie Wells was called for holding in the end zone for a safety. The play negated another interception thrown by Leinart, who had just entered the game.
The Packers went 94 yards in 14 plays for their third touchdown, Rodgers throwing five yards to Finley for the score.