GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Aaron Rodgers dropped back and cocked his arm, ready to throw the ball downfield.
Instead of flinging to his intended target, the Green Bay quarterback was flung to the ground, causing the ball to break loose from his grip.
Arizona defensive lineman Cory Redding scooped it up, tossed Packers running back Eddie Lacy to the ground and rumbled 36 yards for a touchdown.
Another big game, another big letdown for the Packers.
Rodgers was sacked eight teams, had two fumbles returned for touchdowns and threw an interception in the end zone, sending the Packers to a disheartening 38-8 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.
"We are professionals. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard and play better. Everybody has to play better," said Rodgers, who threw for 151 yards and a touchdown on 15-of-28 passing.
The Packers (10-5) had seemed to gather themselves over the past month, winning three straight after a stretch of four losses in five games that started with a blowout by Denver on Nov. 1.
Green Bay came into Sunday's game with a slight hope of earning a first-round bye in the playoffs, but it would have to start with a win over the Cardinals.
The Packers never really had a chance, unable to protect their quarterbacks behind an injury-riddled offensive line.
Taking advantage of Green Bay's shoddy O-line, Arizona (13-2) had nine sacks, its most since 1986 and third-most in team history. Three of those were by resurgent veteran Dwight Freeney and Calais Campbell had 2 1/2.
Instead of the Packers surging toward the playoffs, it's the Cardinals with the momentum after their ninth straight win clinched a first-round playoff bye.
"Our guys were just causing havoc," said cornerback Jerraud Powers, who had Arizona's second defensive touchdown.
The Packers had a hard time stopping it, right from the start.
Without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle) to protect him, Rodgers was sacked three times in the first half and threw for 58 yards while under constant pressure.
Green Bay's ground game did little to take the pressure off, its longest gain a 7-yard run by punter Tim Masthay on a fake.
Despite everything that went wrong, the Packers appeared to gain a spark just before halftime, when defensive tackle Mike Daniels intercepted Carson Palmer's screen pass and rumbled to the Arizona 15-yard line.
Instead of capitalizing on the Cardinals' first turnover in five games, Green Bay gave it right back when Rodgers threw a ball into the end zone that Justin Bethel intercepted.
The Packers compounded Rodgers' seventh interception of the season by allowing Michael Floyd to break free for a 47-yard reception on the next play. Palmer followed with a 7-yard touchdown pass to John Brown that put the Cardinals up 17-0 at halftime.
"That was a huge swing," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
It got worse quickly for the Packers in the second half.
James Starks fumbled on Green Bay's first play, Arizona recovered at the Packers 28-yard line and David Johnson ran in for a 14-yard touchdown two plays later.
The Packers continued to have trouble protecting Rodgers and he started losing the ball.
The first fumble came on Kareem Martin's arm-flinging sack that led to Redding's touchdown.
After a 28-yard touchdown pass to Lacy, Rodgers found himself on the ground again, this time in the hands of Freeney. He lost the ball again, Powers grabbed it out of midair and scored on a 7-yard touchdown to put the Cardinals up 38-8.
Green Bay pulled Rodgers with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, its disaster in the desert complete.
"We have a standard we have set around here for a long time and we just haven't lived up to it consistently," Rodgers said.
Notes: Cardinals S Rashad Johnson missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. Arizona also was without its other starting safety, Tyrann Mathieu, after he tore an ACL last week. ... Green Bay DT B.J. Raji went out in the first half because of a concussion and did not return. ... Arizona has had 19 different players to score a touchdown this season, most in the NFL. ... Starks has four fumbles the past four games.
Aaron Rodgers is out of the game after having a 15-28, 151 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, eight sack, two fumble-recovered-for-a-touchdown day.
Arizona 38, Green Bay 8
Powers 8 yd fumble return TD
Arizona 31, Green Bay 8
Rodgers-Lacy 28 yd TD pass
Arizona 31, Green Bay 0
Redding 36 yd fumble return TD
Arizona 24, Green Bay 0
Johnson 14 yd TD run
Bryan Bulaga has an ankle injury. The Packers say his return is questionable.
Arizona 17, Green Bay 0
Palmer-Brown 7 yd TD pass
Arizona 10, Green Bay 0
Catanzaro 19 yd FG
Arizona 7, Green Bay 0
Palmer-Fitzgerald 3 yd TD pass
The Packers confirm that B.J. Raji is being evaluated for a concussion, and he will not play today's the rest of today's game.
B.J. Raji left the game with an apparent injury with :30 left in the 1st Quarter. He may be placed in the concussion protocol after a friendly-fire collision with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
On the third day of Christmas, the Green Bay Packers have been given...a test.
Today's contest may be the biggest test the Packers may have all regular season.
The reason? It comes against an Arizona team that may be the most balanced in football, with few weaknesses.
The Packers offense won't face Tyrann Mathieu, the "Honey Badger," who may be the game's best safety. But they will battle a secondary that still will bring huge challenges to a Packers receiving corps that still has a lot to prove.
The Cardinals have one of the NFL's top rushing defense, which will challenge Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
The Packers defense has a massive task in front of them - the No. 1 ranked offense in the NFL. Carson Palmer, the Cardinals' quarterback, is having an NFL-caliber season, while David Johnson continues to run the ball at a pace that draw Green Bay's defense in enough to keep passing lanes open all day.
This game will also mean a lot when it comes to playoff positioning. Green Bay must win today and then next week against Minnesota, plus have Seattle defeat Arizona in seven days, to get a first round bye in the NFC playoffs.
Additionally, this game may be the first of two straight against opponents whom the Packers may face in the first round of those playoffs.
A win today sends a message that Green Bay is for real. Maybe the ones to need to hear it the most...are the Packers themselves.