We knew early on in the year the Arizona Cardinals would only go as far as their defense could take them.
Through four games, it seemed like the defense could take them a long way.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton's group was allowing just 15.25 points per game, and had held both Tom Brady and Michael Vick in check.
They looked good -- real good.
Things have changed, though, as the Cardinals have given up an average of 22.4 points per game in their last five games -- all losses -- and Sunday, against the Green Bay Packers, could be looked at as the reason for the defeat.
"Clearly it's been the defense that has let them down as of late," ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo Thursday. "They make that a one score game in Green Bay, all of a sudden you're there at 24-17 and bang, the Packers just march it right down and put that game away for all intents and purposes."
The Cardinals, who had trailed most of the game, did get within seven points late in the third quarter. However, Aaron Rodgers hit tight end Tom Crabtree for one of the longest-lasting 72-yard touchdown passes you'll ever see just a couple plays later, putting the game out of reach for Arizona.
It was only one big play, but it was the dagger and just another instance where the Cardinals defense could not get the job done Sunday.
"Clearly the strength has been the interior of that defensive line, yet Green Bay ran the football on them," Jaworski said.
The Packers gained a season-best 176 yards rushing on 39 carries, with James Starks, Alex Green, Randall Cobb and Rodgers himself doing significant damage.
It was unfortunate because, as Jaworski said, Arizona's offense was starting to have success against the Packers defense, with quarterback John Skelton playing well.
The quarterback, making his third start in place of Kevin Kolb (and fourth of the season), got off to a slow start but turned things around in the second half.
"I thought he struggled early in the game, and I think you can probably put those struggles on the offensive line," Jaworski said, noting Bobby Massie "whiffed on his first two blocks."
"There was some pressure on John for most of the early part of the game and I know how that impacts a quarterback and I thought he was a little bit erratic early," Jaworski said.
The analyst praised the adjustments Arizona's coaching staff made as the game wore on, saying they were able to open things up as the line started to protect better.
"They were moving the football against the Packers," Jaworski said. "Then you saw some really good throws by Skelton.
"Of course, you saw some really bad drops in the game, which hurt them."