GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)– Tom Crabtree’s slow-motion chug up the field was fast enough to beat out two Arizona Cardinals defenders.
Crabtree tumbled into the end zone just ahead of Paris Lenon and William Gay for a 72-yard touchdown that was Green Bay’s longest of the season, and sealed the Packers’ 31-17 victory over the Cardinals.
Randall Cobb added two TD receptions for the Packers, who handed Arizona its fifth straight loss after the Cardinals began the season 4-0.
The Packers (6-3) finally got their running game going, finishing with a season-high 176 yards rushing on 39 carries.
It was the first time in a month they’ve cracked the century mark. James Jones also had a touchdown reception, his career-high eighth of the season, and Green Bay goes into its bye week with a four-game winning streak.
The break comes at a good time for the Packers, who lost Clay Matthews (hamstring), Jordy Nelson (ankle) and Bryan Bulaga (hip) to injuries during the game.
Arizona (4-5) also has next weekend off, and will likely spend it wondering how to regroup. John Skelton threw for more than 300 yards, and he was able to pick apart the Green Bay defense for big gains time and again. But his receivers had too many drops, and the Packers did a good job bottling up Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald finished with six catches for 74 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown.
Green Bay and Arizona last met in the 2010 NFC wild card game, a 51-46 Arizona victory that set playoff records for points, touchdowns (13) and yards (1,024). But this was never going to be a repeat of that shootout, especially since the Packers came out determined to run the ball.
Green Bay’s running game has been much-maligned — and pretty much non-existent — since workhorse running back Cedric Benson was injured last month.
But the Packers insisted they were still committed to running the ball, and proved it by running for 126 yards in the first half, their most first-half rushing yardage in almost four years, on their way to a 21-7 lead.
But all that running must have left them tired, because the Packers came out sluggish in the second half. They failed to pick up a first down on each of their first four drives, and got only a 33-yard field goal from Mason Crosby despite getting the ball at their own 48, Arizona 17 and midfield.
The Cardinals took advantage, catching a break when LaRod Stephens-Howling was tripped up behind the line of scrimmage only to land on a Packer instead of the ground. Stephens-Howling got up and kept going for a 5-yard gain. The Packers challenged the call, but officials upheld it, saying Stephens-Howling wasn’t down because only his wrist had hit the ground.
On the next play, Fitzgerald shook off tackles by Tramon Williams, M.D. Jennings and Dezman House for a 31-yard touchdown catch that cut Green Bay’s lead to 24-14.
Matthews went to the locker room with a hamstring injury, and the Cardinals responded with their best drive of the day.
Skelton threw on seven of the first 10 plays of the drive, completing eight of them to bring the Cardinals to the Green Bay 2. But Mike Daniels and A.J. Hawk stuffed Stephens-Howling on third-and-1, forcing Arizona to settle for a 20-yard field goal that cut the lead to 24-17.
Two plays later, Crabtree ripped off the 72-yard score, the longest play from scrimmage of the season for the Packers.
Catching the ball at his own 45, Crabtree repeatedly looked over his shoulder as he chugged up the field, making sure Paris Lenon and William Gay weren’t going to catch him short of the goal line.
They didn’t, and Crabtree tumbled into the end zone. A giddy Aaron Rodgers jumped on Mike McCarthy’s back, nearly tackling the Packers coach.
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