Struggling Cardinals upset Packers

AP

The Green Bay Packers have fired coach Mike McCarthy and made offensive coordinator Joe Philbin the interim head coach.

The move announced by team president Mark Murphy came after a stunning 20-17 loss on Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals which left Green Bay 4-7-1.

Murphy, in a statement, said the 2018 season “has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers. As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately.”

Murphy said the process of hiring the next head coach would begin at once.

McCarthy was in his 13th season as coach and left the Packers with a record of 125-77-2. Green Bay won the Super Bowl under McCarthy in the 2010 season.

“Mike has been a terrific head coach and leader of the Packers for 13 seasons, during which time we experienced a great deal of success on and off the field,” Murphy said.

But this is a third straight year in which Green Bay has had extended struggles.

In 2016, the Packers started 4-6, then won eight straight games to get to the NFC title game, losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Green Bay finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs in 2017, when Aaron Rodgers missed extensive time with a broken collarbone.

McCarthy shook up his coaching staff, including bringing Philbin back as offensive coordinator and hiring Mike Pettine to replace Dom Capers as defensive coordinator. But different problems emerged.

This year, Rodgers hurt his left knee in the season opener, though he is feeling better now, and receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison have missed time with injuries. The same issues kept popping up for the offense: most glaringly, empty third downs and a lack of explosive plays.

Rodgers was asked after the game — but before McCarthy’s firing was announced — how much blame offensive players should get if the Packers made a coaching change after the season.

“Yeah, a lot probably. We haven’t played very well,” Rodgers said. “We all take part in the disappointments and the failures that we’ve had this season. We’ve had a number of opportunities. It’s not like we’re getting blown out in a bunch of games. We’re in games.”

In the other locker room after the game, the Cardinals were joking and yelling as if they didn’t believe what had just happened.

“We did that! We did that,” some emotional players yelled.

Zane Gonzalez kicked a 44-yard field goal with 1:41 left and Green Bay’s Mason Crosby missed a 49-yard attempt as time expired as the Cardinals braved wintry conditions to hold on for the win.

“It’s hard to win in this league and it’s been a long time since we won a football game,” coach Steve Wilks said.

It was October 28, to be exact, when the Cardinals (3-9) beat San Francisco at home. Until Sunday, their only other victory this season came on the road against the 49ers.

Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen struggled for much of the afternoon, but hit Larry Fitzgerald for a sliding 32-yard completion on third-and-23 to help set up Gonzalez’s winning kick.

Gonzalez just joined the team this week after Phil Dawson was placed on injured reserve. The Cardinals had a patchwork offensive line, which didn’t bode well for what had been the league’s worst offense coming into the day.

“All the things that were said on the outside, these guys circled the wagons and came together,” Wilks said.

In Other Games

Rams 30, Lions 16

Giants 30, Bears 27, (OT)

Chiefs 40, Raiders 33

Patriots 24, Vikings 10

Seahawks 43, 49ers 16

Titans 26, Jets 22

Jaguars 6, Colts 0

Ravens 16, Falcons 16

Texans 29, Browns 13

Buccaneers 24, Panthers 17

Broncos 24, Bengals 10

Dolphins 21, Bills 17

Chargers 33, Steelers 30