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Tom Oates: Grading Packers’ performance in 20-17 loss to Cardinals

December 3, 2018

Green Bay outside linebacker Clay Matthews and nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) tackle Arizona running back David Johnson in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals' 20-17 win over the Packers on Sunday Dec. 2, 2018, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Wisconsin State Journal columnist Tom Oates grades the Green Bay Packers’ performance in their 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Offense: D-minus

Aaron Rodgers can direct traffic and complete passes at the same time, but he had too many off-target throws. Aaron Jones had only 3.3 yards per carry and was replaced by Jamaal Williams in the second half. Green Bay converted its first two third-down plays, missed on the next 11 and finished 3-for-14. That doesn’t cut it.

Defense: D-plus

The Packers gave up 182 yards rushing to a poor rushing team. The defense had no takeaways for the second consecutive game. Had Eddie Pleasant held onto a Josh Rosen airball for a late interception, the Packers likely would have won. Dean Lowry and Josh Jones had sacks but the Packers had only one other quarterback hit.

Special teams: F-plus

Yes, there were swirling winds, but Mason Crosby is paid to make clutch kicks. Josh Jones could have downed a punt inside the 10 but couldn’t locate the ball. Jaire Alexander’s 24-yard punt return and Jamaal Williams’ 30-yard kickoff return were season highs for the Packers, which illustrates how bad the returns have been.

Coaching: F-plus

A draw play on third-and-10 from the 50? Whether it was called by Mike McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers, it was wrong. Going for it on fourth-and-4 from the 13 in a 0-0 bad-weather game was a poor call − right up until Rodgers threw a touchdown pass. Mike Pettine has given rookie quarterbacks fits, but he couldn’t faze Josh Rosen.

Overall: D-minus

Arizona was a warm-weather, dome team with a 2-9 record and a rookie quarterback. Green Bay had the home-field advantage, a cold, snowy, windy day and had to win to retain any hope of making the playoffs. Many thought the Packers would dominate. Instead, they couldn’t even win. The season − and, with McCarthy’s firing after the game, an era − are over.

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