Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers ended Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals perfect 7-0 start, beating the previously undefeated Cardinals 24-21 after a thrilling finish on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 8 of the 2021-22 NFL season.

The Cardinals struck first, with a huge 58-yard catch by DeAndre Hopkins on third down sparking a scoring opportunity on Arizona’s second drive of the game. Four plays later, Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds took a direct snap and plowed ahead to the endzone for an 11-yard score to go up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Green Bay answered on the following possession, marching the ball 75 yards down the field over 14 plays, utilizing running back A.J. Dillon as well as some quick passes from Rodgers to methodically move the ball. Aaron Jones rushed the ball up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 early in the second quarter.

On their next drive, the Packers punted but Cardinals rookie punt returner Rondale Moore muffed the catch, allowing Rodgers and Green Bay’s offense to set up at Arizona’s 3-yard line. Rodgers threw the ball three times, with each pass falling incomplete, forcing a 21-yard field goal from Mason Crosby to put the Packers up 10-7. Arizona had another short drive, and the Packers ran out the clock for the first half with Rodgers chucking up a Hail Mary pass from Green Bay’s 48-yard line to end the second quarter.

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Punters wouldn’t be needed in a thrilling second half. The Cardinals offense continued to struggle, with Murray throwing an interception deep in his own territory on Arizona’s first drive of the half. Rodgers found Randall Cobb five plays later to put the Packers up 17-7. Murray and the Cardinals offense finally woke up in response, with Murray, Edmonds, A.J. Green, and Christian Kirk doing the majority of the work on 12-play, 81-yard drive culminating in a 2-yard James Conner touchdown run to cut the score to 17-14.

Both offenses were clicking at this point, with the Packers engineering a season-high 91-yard drive. The highlight of the 12-play drive was a 33-yard strike from Rodgers to tight end Ryan Tonyan, and Cobb caught his second touchdown pass of the evening from six yards out to give the Packers a 24-14 lead right as the fourth quarter began.

Murray and the Cardinals answered with a second straight long touchdown drive of their own, with Zach Ertz hauling in a huge fourth down reception and Conner scoring his second rushing touchdown of the night from nine yards out to narrow the score to 24-21.

But Green Bay roared right back, getting the ball to Arizona’s 3-yard line in ten plays. Jones appeared to score on 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but the replay booth overturned the call: seemingly hurting the Cardinals comeback chances, as Green Bay could now run some more clock. However, the Cardinals defense held strong, aided by a delay of game penalty the Packers took on third down. Rather than kicking a field goal to go up seven points, Matt LaFleutr opted to go for it on fourth down, but Rodgers was unable to connect with Cobb.

The Cardinals nearly a safety on the next play, but Edmonds was able to wriggle his way out of the endzone. On third down from their own 1-yard line, Arizona’s chances looked bleak, but Murray found Green for 23 yards and Kirk for 29 yards on back-to-back plays to keep the Cardinals hopes of winning alive. Murray corralled a high snap in Packers territory for an 8-yard loss, yet still bounced back with a 22-yard catch and run from Edmonds. Holding the ball on the Packers 5-yard line with 15 seconds left, overtime or victory seemed imminent for the Cardinals.

Murray threw towards Green on the right side of the endzone, but the receiver never turned his head, and cornerback Rasul Douglas was able to haul in the ball for a stunning, game-sealing interception. Arizona looked to poise to either kick a field goal to send the game to overtime or score a game-winning touchdown, but just like that, their undefeated record was ruined in one crushing play.

Rodgers finished the game 22-of-37 passing for 184 yards and two scores, with Dillon carrying the ball 16 times for 78 yards and Jones rushing 15 times for 59 yards and a score in a balanced offensive attack. Jones was the Packers leading receiver with seven catches for 51 yards. Cobb caught three passes for just 15 yards, but made the most of them with two touchdowns.

Murray completed 22-of-33 passes for 274 yards, but threw two interceptions and failed to throw a touchdown pass. The Cardinals rushing attack was mostly stuffed but handled the scoring for Arizona, with Edmonds carrying the ball seven times for 30 yards and a touchdown, and Conner rushing five times for 22 yards and a pair of scores.

The Packers improved to 7-1 and will hold at least a share of the best record in the NFC through Week 8. The next six games are a gauntlet for Green Bay, facing the Chiefs, Seahawks, Vikings, Rams, Bears, and Ravens over the next seven weeks. The schedule may be tough, but this win puts the Packers in the driver’s seat to potentially win the top seed in the NFC.

Arizona loses their first game to fall to 7-1, but will still have every chance to earn a top seed in the NFC as well. The Cardinals biggest concern is keeping pace with the 6-1 Los Angeles Rams, though they do have a head-to-head victory over their NFC West rival. The Cardinals play the 49ers, Panthers, and Seahawks before an early December bye week, followed by matchups with the Rams and Lions.

Rodgers reportedly told Murray after the game “we’ll see you in the playoffs,” and this matchup certainly deserves a high-stakes rematch.

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Header Photo: RICK SCUTERI/AP

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