After more than seven months of waiting, the denizens of Green Bay were back at Lambeau Field on Friday evening, shoulder to shoulder, ready to ring in another year of Packers football.
Over the ensuing three hours, however, the weather proved to be the one constant in providing the capacity crowd a reason to cheer.
Courtesy of the visiting Arizona Cardinals, the two-time NFC North champions were upended, 17-0, in their 2013 preseason lid lifter, marking the first time that the green and gold have been shut out since a 35-0 pasting at the hands of the New England Patriots on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006.
Aaron Rodgers, the 2011 NFL MVP, played one series for Green Bay, driving the Packers from their 13-yard line to the Arizona goal line in a shade over four minutes. On the heels of a 50-yard Rodgers-to-James Jones connection down the left sideline, the Packers found themselves on the Cardinals six-yard line, poised to break into the scoring column on their opening drive.
Following a four-yard scamper by fourth-year running back James Starks and a pair of incompletions by Rodgers (who amassed 62 yards on 3-of-5 passing on the games), the Packers, ultimately, were stopped at the Arizona one-yard line on fourth down.
That would be as close as Green Bay would come to finding the end zone.
Arizona, entering its first season of the Bruce Arians regime, limited Green Bay to 223 yards of total offense while producing 355 yards of its own.
Additionally, the Cardinals, who dropped 11 of their final 12 regular season outings a year ago, forced a pair of Green Bay turnovers on the evening, including a Patrick Peterson interception of Graham Harrell late in the first quarter, resulting in a 38-yard strike from Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer to Andre Roberts into the end zone on the ensuing play.
Arizona, who returns to action on Aug. 17 as they play host to the Dallas Cowboys, scored again with 11:42 remaining in the first half as Drew Stanton tossed a one-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown, upping the lead to 14-0.
Heading into intermission, the Packers, following the turnover on downs during their first possession, accounted for 186 yards of offense, 37 of which came during the second quarter.
With Harrell under center during the Packers’ opening two drives of the second half, Green Bay ran nine plays—six of which were of the former Texas Tech Red Raider lining up in the shotgun formation—while netting a grand total of eight yards.
Spelling Harrell (who finished 12-of-19 for 76 yards amid a chorus of boos) in the captain’s chair of the Green Bay offense was the newly signed Vince Young, who amassed seven yards through the air and a dozen on the ground.
While the Packers failed to impress during their preseason opening, the Cardinals, meanwhile, had a strong showing from a pair of first-year players.
Stephan Taylor, Stanford’s career rushing leader, rushed for 64 yards on 20 carries in his NFL debut, while Tyrann Mathieu, the vastly talent and much maligned safety formerly of LSU, recorded two tackles, one sack and returned two punts for 26 yards.
In the fourth quarter, the Green Bay offense continued to sputter as it was able to only muster 25 yards, before giving way to punter Tim Mastay (who had eight punts to his name on the evening) to culminate each of their three possessions in the final frame.
Defensively, rookie Micah Boyd and Josh Boyd led the Packers with five tackles apiece, while Rob Francois registered the lone sack for Green Bay, courtesy of takedown of Stanton in the second quarter.
Green Bay, who is 5-4 in preseason play since 2011, returns to the gridiron on Saturday when they travel to St. Louis to face off against Jeff Fisher’s Rams.