I really don’t like the word “choke” as a rule but sometimes it just fits. Maybe it doesn’t apply to the Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers and maybe it does but what I know for sure is that they had no business losing the NFC Championship Game yesterday.
Hats off to Seattle. They stayed positive and persisted and took advantage of the opportunities provided them by the Packers and they are headed back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year. But let’s be honest here shall we? The Green Bay Packers did all of the things that teams do to lose leads rather than preserve them and that’s why the state of Wisconsin wakes up in a haze today.
Twice in the first half the Packers had to settle for field goals. One of those field goals was shorter than an extra point. When you’re playing on the road against the defending champs, you go for it but Mike McCarthy saw it differently. If I know anything about football, it’s that when you settle for field goals you are ultimately settling for trouble.
At the beginning of the second half, the Packers shut the Seahawks down on their opening drive and then proceeded to run in it into the ground and punt it. When you have the defending champions on the ropes in their own building you go for the throat and the Packers didn’t.
Then, with about four minutes left and the Seahawks poised to use their timeouts, Green Bay again elected the conservative route. Run for a loss on first down – timeout. Run for a loss on second down – timeout. Run for little gain – timeout. Seattle’s defense had done their job. Less than thirty seconds had come off the clock and now the Seahawks were getting the ball back.
When you have the defending champions, or any team for that matter, on the verge of being beaten, you go for the throat. I know, if McCarthy elects to throw the ball and it’s incomplete then I’d be screaming as to why he didn’t try to kill time right? Wrong! You don’t win by trying not to lose and that’s what Green Bay did yesterday.
When you combine the field goals and conservative play-calling you get a loss that will take some time to get over in Green Bay. Dom Capers’ defensive gameplan was more than enough to have earned a victory but even that started to break down as Marshawn Lynch got cranked up in the second half. In all reality though, Capers’ defense forced four interceptions and still lost and that shouldn’t have happened.
In the bitter end, Mike McCarthy has only himself to blame and yes, I realize he didn’t make or not make the plays on the field. There is however a problem that McCarthy failed to solve and that would be discipline. Last week he had an offensive lineman pick up a crucial personal foul that took the team out of a sure chance for a touchdown.
Yesterday, immediately after a turnover that would have given the Packers the ball inside the Seattle ten yard line, a defensive lineman was flagged for taunting. Again, a field goal and not a touchdown. The biggest breakdown in discipline though came on the on-sides kick.
Green Bay tight end Brandon Bostick admitted after the game that his job was not to go after the potential on-sides but rather, his job was to block the first wave of Seahawks. He failed to do his job and when the kick came to him, he went for the ball instead of doing his job and the rest is history.
Ultimately, players have to execute but Mike McCarthy didn’t do his team any favors.