GREEN BAY, Wis. - Dennis Green’s first game as an NFL head coach came at Lambeau Field in 1992, a 23-20 win for the Minnesota Vikings. It’s possible his last game will have also been at Lambeau after Sunday’s 31-14 loss to the Packers.
Perhaps knowing Green’s tenure in Arizona is perilously close to being over, the Cardinals were listless much of the day in losing their seventh straight. The only ones who know for sure what Green’s fate is are Bill and Michael Bidwill, neither of whom were available for comment after the game.
But Green might be safe for now. Vice president of football operations Rod Graves said he did not anticipate a coaching change.
Green himself said “I’ll be at work” today, although he sounded oddly detached when he said, “the Cardinals should work on the Cardinals” during the upcoming bye week.
Most players tried to downplay Green’s situation in terms of its effect in the locker room, but something helped suck the life out of the Cards (1-7) as they fell behind 21-0.
“Of course it does (affect the team),” safety Adrian Wilson said. “He’s our coach. Why wouldn’t it? But it is something we have to play through.”
Said linebacker Calvin Pace, “As long as Coach Green is here, we are going to play hard. No one is going to quit. He’s been getting a lot of grief, but we need it on our shoulders because we’re not making plays. He’s not going out and playing.”
On a brisk fall day with temperatures hovering below 50 degrees, it was the Packers (3-4) who turned the stereotypical football afternoon into an old-school football beating.
Green Bay, which hadn’t won in three previous home games, gained 383 yards of offense and rushed for 203 yards. Both Ahman Green (21 carries, 106 yards, two touchdowns) and backup Vernand Morency (11 carries, 101 yards) reached triple digits.
“It reminds me of the days I was (in college) at Nebraska,” Green quipped.
Packers quarterback Brett Favre even attempted the first “Lambeau Leap” of his career into the stands after rushing for a touchdown.
It was a good day to be a Packer or one of the 70,809 in attendance, the second-largest crowd ever at Lambeau.
It wasn’t so good to be a Cardinal.
While the defense got pushed around for touchdown drives of 88, 70 and 87 yards in the first half, Arizona’s offense failed to get a passing yard on the NFL’s worst pass defense until 12 minutes remained in the second quarter.
“That was my fault,” said quarterback Matt Leinart, who was just 14-of-35 passing for 157 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “I couldn’t have hit a wall if you told me to.”
Green said he didn’t think his team came out flat, but it was difficult to feel otherwise.
“Coming into this stadium with the fan base they have and the tradition and the pride they have playing at home, you can’t come out slow like that,” cornerback Eric Green said. “We did and it showed.
“For a second, I thought it was going to get ugly.”
The Cardinals rallied a bit, with running back Edgerrin James (84 yards rushing and a touchdown) having his best game in more than a month. But it was much too little, much too late.
The players aren’t sure what to say anymore. Some just declined to be interviewed, like James and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett.
Dennis Green insisted his team is still playing hard. But the pluck that was evident in close losses against Kansas City and Chicago has all but disappeared the past two weeks.
The Cards’ massive road troubles — they have lost 30 of their past 33 road games and have a 3-17 road mark under Green — also haven’t gone anywhere.
Asked if there was enough fight remaining in the team, Wilson said, “I think there is in a few players and I think a few players are just here. That’s the nature of how teams go.”
Whether it includes a coaching change or not, the Cardinals have two weeks to adjust themselves before the second half of the season.
It’s hard to believe it could be any worse than the first half.
“We have a good team. We are just underperforming, point blank,” said receiver Anquan Boldin, who had just four catches and lamented the Cards’ lack of intensity. “Guys have to make up their mind to come out and play.
“It ain’t hard.”
TURNING POINT: After stuffing a fake field goal attempt, the Cardinals went three-and-out before the Packers embarked on an 88-yard touchdown drive to start the scoring. It was clear the Cards wouldn’t stop the Packers’ run game after that.
STAT OF THE DAY: Underscoring how the Packers ran over the Cardinals via the ground game, Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre scored his first rushing touchdown since Dec. 3, 2001 — and capped it with his first “Lambeau Leap.”
UNSUNG HEROES: The Packers’ offensive line — Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Scott Wells, Jason Spitz and Mark Tauscher — cleared holes for Green Bay’s 203-yard rushing day.