Game Story: Packers 44, Cardinals 37
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers have made their preseason a showcase of possibilities. The Arizona Cardinals hope theirs doesn't mean a thing.
Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers dominated the Cardinals' starters in Green Bay's 44-37 victory over the defending NFC champions on Friday night.
Rodgers threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns as the Packers opened a 38-10 halftime lead.
"That's about as good as we can play on offense," Rodgers said. "Talk about exciting. We've got a defense like that that can stop them and we get the ball back at the end. So many weapons, great play-calling, and it's just us on offense executing."
Arizona fell to 0-3 and coach Ken Whisenhunt was peeved.
The Packers' No. 1 offense had four touchdowns and a field goal in their six first-half possessions as Green Bay (3-0) rolled up 357 yards. That gives the Packers' first-team offense nine TDs and a field goal in 12 possessions. The starters have not been forced to punt.
"I thought we were great tonight," Rodgers said. "Three games, no punts for the first team. Thirty-one points tonight. The line was great. I barely got touched."
The Green Bay defense was almost as dominant as the offense.
Charles Woodson had two sacks and forced three fumbles, one by Kurt Warner that was returned 24 yards by Aaron Kampman for a touchdown.
"I don't know how many days you have like that over the course of the year," Woodson said, "but if I can get a few of those in the regular season and help this team win, I'm happy about that."
The first-team defense has 12 takeaways in the preseason.
Leinart threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as the Cardinals cut the lead to 38-37.
First-round draft pick Beanie Wells rushed for 46 yards in seven carries in his Arizona debut, including TD runs of 20 and 2 yards.
Whisenhunt called the running game "a bright spot on a dismal evening."
Wells' shifty 20-yard run in the second quarter was the first touchdown allowed by Green Bay's starters in the preseason. He missed the first two games with a sprained ankle.
"That was actually my first piece of contact since the first day of training camp," Wells said. "I'm definitely excited to have been in the game. I had a lot of butterflies going."
Rodgers finished 14 of 19 to improve to 28 of 37 in the preseason for 458 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. Green Bay has outscored its opponents 76-10 in the first half of the three preseason contests.
"I'm very pleased with what we were able to accomplish so far," coach Mike McCarthy said.
Packers starting wide receiver Greg Jennings left the game with a blow to the head on Green Bay's game-opening touchdown drive.
Arizona cut the lead to 38-37 on Leinart's 11-yard TD pass to Jason Wright with 38 seconds to play and went for the win. Early Doucet dropped Leinart's 2-point conversion pass, then Green Bay's Ruvell Martin returned the subsequent onside kick attempt for a touchdown.
Rodgers completed a 76-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jordy Nelson. His other two scoring passes went to tight end Jermichael Finley, for 3 and 11 yards.
The only time the Packers stalled in the first half was when Mason Crosby missed a 29-yard field goal with 30 seconds to play.
Warner, who doesn't have a touchdown pass in the preseason, was 10 of 16 for 139 yards with one interception and one lost fumble.
NOTES: Arizona rookie RB LaRod Stephens-Howling left the game with a concussion after being hit by LB Danny Lansanah early in the fourth quarter. ... The Cardinals were without wide receivers Anquan Boldin (hamstring) and Steve Breaston (knee) and backup QB Brian St. Pierre (back). ... The teams meet again in Arizona in their regular-season finale on Jan. 3. ... Green Bay had seven plays of 23 yards or longer in the first half. ... Green Bay players injured in the game included S Atari Bigby (sprained thumb), DE Michael Montgomery (broken hand) and RB Brandon Jackson (bruised shin). ... There were three official reviews in the final 45 seconds.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)