Several Green Bay Packers fans are still weeping and gnashing their teeth over what have been.
The Packers for the most part thoroughly – and I mean THOROUGHLY – outplayed the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s NFC Championship game. They picked off Russell Wilson FOUR times. They jumped out to an early 16-0 lead. They led 19-7 with five minutes left to go in the game.
And yet they found a way to be outscored 15-3 the rest of regulation before losing in overtime.
So the question is this: who in the hell is to blame for the Packers’ collapse?
Well, the easy scapegoat is Brandon Bostick. He was the boob who not only mishandled the game-changing onside kick, he didn’t do what he was supposed to – block for Jordy Nelson, the designated “hands” on the “hands team”. After all, Packers fans could always say “you only had one job!”
However, I’ll argue that Bostick shouldn’t have been the main object of the fans’ ire. In fact, I’d also argue that things shouldn’t have gotten to that point in the first place.
Let’s engage in a quick review of the game.
The Packers had two 4th and goals from the 1-yard line early in the game. Memo to coaches everywhere: if you are a decided road underdog with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line, you go for it on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line. Period. The Packers should have been up by more than 16-0.
Whenever a team kicks a field goal in those situations, those are not “plus-3s”, they are “minus-4s” (A touchdown, 7 points, minus a field goal, 3 points, is a four-point differential). Green Bay essentially left eight points on the field. Add those eight points, and it would have been a seemingly insurmountable 24-0 lead.
And remember that late interception that Morgan Burnett plucked out of the air with a little over five minutes left in the game? Remember what the subsequent plays the Packers ran? Three straight runs, which the first two losing four and two yards, respectively.
And we won’t go into Julius Peppers making Burnett fall to the ground after the latter made that interception. You see how much room Burnett had in front of him if Peppers (not surprisingly an UNC grad) not gone brain-dead and let him return it? Dude would still be running right now.
(Note: thanks to Twitter for the image)
This is all on the coaching, bad conservative coaching at that. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was NEVER that conservative in any game I watched. It’s as if he forgot that he has arguably the best QB in football right now in Aaron Rodgers.
I mean not going for it on BOTH 4th and goals from the 1-yard line? Not running at least one pass play after that late Morgan interception? REALLY coach???
Oh, and let’s not forget the two special teams gaffes the Packers committed in regulation. First, any pundit would tell you that the Packers had no business being fooled on that fake field goal attempt. Someone should have been at least in the vicinity of the offensive lineman who was inexplicably wide-ass open in the end zone.
And as for that onside kick debacle, Bostick should have been adequately taught to BLOCK instead of go up for the ball in that situation. Sure the player should have known better, but a player should not have frozen at that moment and commit a boneheaded mistake if his job was thoroughly coached.
That’s on the special teams coach.
I’m guessing that the special teams coach will take the fall of the collapse and be canned by week’s end. If McCarthy is truly about accountability, he would also fire himself.
I agree. When you blow a lead like that, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Defense collapsed. Offense didn’t deliver a clock crushing first down. Peppers’ move was totally crazy! Holmes would have made it to field goal range at a minimum.
Not sure I agree with the 4th and ones. It’s important to put points on the board and quiet that Seattle crowd. Probably would have taken the FG the first time and gone for the end zone the second time, since I already had the lead. Oregon went for it against us and our stop was a momentum breaker, so it goes both ways.
Scott – you summed it up perfectly!!! Teams that play not to lose instead of playing to win usually end up losing.