41 min

Green Bay Packers lose NFC Championship

Game played on Sun, Jan 18, 2015. Seattle defeated Green Bay 28-22 in overtime.

The Packers made several bad plays in the game that contributed to one of the "greatest" playoff collapses in NFL history.

Even when GB was up 19-7, it was no more than two scores, so anything is possible in the NFL, which is why I stayed with the game. Incredibly, some Seahawk fans left the game early and had to watch the comeback and the overtime win outside the stadium because of a no-re-entry rule.

When the deficit is no more than two scores, the losing team has a chance. It didn't seem like Seattle had a chance, since they were down 12, and they had only scored 7 points.

But Green Bay's offense failed to put the game away in the first quarter and in the fourth quarter. Too many blown chances.

Aaron Rodgers claimed that the best team lost that game, which is false, because the best team would not settle for so many field goals. The best team would kill the clock at the end of the game when having the lead.

Seattle was the best team because they played all 60 minutes of regulation. The Packer defense surrendered three touchdowns in a matter of minutes of football time.

The Packer defense played a fantastic game until the final moments of regulation and in overtime. Until the end of the fourth quarter, the only Seattle score occurred against the GB special teams when Seattle perfectly executed a fake field goal.

Despite playing well at times or much of the game, the Packers special teams, defense, and offense contributed to their loss. And the Packers coaching stuff also contributed to the loss.

Box Score

In the first quarter, GB kicked two field goals that were shorter than an extra point after Seattle basically gave GB two gift turnovers, allowing GB to start drives deep in Seattle territory. Credit Seattle's defense for keeping GB out of the end zone, unlike GB's defense at the end of the game and in overtime.

Green Bay got the opening kickoff and drove to the Seattle 29. On third and 10, Rodgers threw a pass to the end zone, and Seattle DB R. Sherman intercepted for a touchback.

On Seattle's first offensive series, Wilson's pass was intercepted on 3rd and 7. The pass should have been caught, but it clanged off the receiver's hands and popped up into the air, and it was easily intercepted by a GB DB who returned the ball to the Seattle 4 yard line.

But instead of 1st and goal at the 4, a bonehead GB defensive lineman got into an opponent's face after the intercepted play ended, and the GB lineman was flagged for taunting. That's a 15-yard penalty. So GB started at the Seattle 19. That's still amazing field position, but what a moronic penalty.

The Packers gained 12 yards on first down, giving GB first and goal at the Seattle 7. On first down, RB Lacy ran for 6 yards up the middle.

So now it's second and goal at the Seattle 1.

J.Kuhn up the middle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN. The Replay Official challenged the runner broke the plane ruling, and the play was REVERSED.

Kuhn's elbow was ruled down at about the half-yard line. GB was definitely inside the Seattle 1-yard-line.

Now it's third and goal from the half-yard line or closer, maybe the one-foot line. Lacy ran for no gain. I thought that because GB was so close to the goal line, Rodgers, who was under center, would sneak it. Lacy seemed to run too tentatively on that third down play.

It seemed that Lacy was looking for a hole to run through instead of just slamming into the line of scrimmage as fast and as hard as possible, especially when the line of scrimmage was only 12 to 18 inches from the goal line.

On the 2nd down and 3rd down rushing attempts, neither Kuhn nor Lacy tried to stretch the ball out to break the plane. Credit the Seattle defense for stopping those two rushing attempts from inside the 1-yard-line, but some fault goes to Lacy's lackluster rush on 3rd down.

On 4th and goal from the 12- to 18-inch line, surprisingly, Packer head coach Mike McCarthy elected to kick a field goal.

When a team cannot score a TD in the conference championship game when it's 2nd and goal from the 1, that's not the best team, like Rodgers said. The best team had the defense to prevent the TD. The best team would be aggressive and go for it, like Seattle did with its fake field goal TD.

GB kicked the puny field goal and led 3-0 with over 8 minutes left in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Seattle player returned the kick and fumbled around the Seattle 28, and Green Bay covered the fumble at the Seattle 23.

The Seattle kick returner returned the ball to his left, and he was near the sideline, but he carried the ball in his right arm, and he carried it too loosely, so the ball was somewhat easy to dislodge.

Credit goes to the GB kick team for poking the ball free and covering the fumble, but that fumble could have been prevented by the Seattle kick returner by holding the ball in his left hand and securing it more.

Hence, two early gifts by Seattle to Green Bay. The interception that should have been a catch and the bad kick return fumble.

GB started its previous drive at the Seattle 19, and now this drive started at the Seattle 23.

GB drove and had first and goal at the 7. Lacy rushed for 1 yard on first down. Rodgers threw an incomplete pass.

On third and goal at the 6, Rodgers threw a short out pass to the right that was completed to Cobb around the 1- or 2-yard line, but Cobb was tackled immediately. Good defense.

This made it 4th and goal at the Seattle 1-yard-line, and McCarthy chose to kick a field goal that was once again, shorter than an extra point.

I could understand kicking the field goal on this drive if GB had scored a TD on the previous gift drive.

Two Seattle turnovers deep in their own territory, and GB managed to score only 6 points. That's not winning football, and unsurprisingly, it proved costly to GB.

Seattle went 3-and-out on its next possession. After a short punt, GB started its drive on its own 44 and drove 56 yards for a touchdown and led 13-0 at then end of the first quarter. It could have easily been 21-0, and at the least, it should have been 17-0.

Seattle went 3-and-out again and punted. GB had a fine punt return. The Packers started at the Seattle 33 yard line. Stunning starting field position for the Packers in the first half. But the Packers gained only 11 yards and settled for a 40-yard field goal to lead 16-0 with 9:37 left in the 2nd quarter.

GB's offense starting field possessions and points scored from those drives:

  • Seattle 19 - 3 points
  • Seattle 23 - 3 points
  • Green Bay 44 - 7 points
  • Seattle 33 - 3 points

Here's the play-by-play for the GB drive that started at the Seattle 33.

1st and 10 at SEA 33 (13:18) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short middle to E.Lacy. 13 0
2nd and 10 at SEA 33 (13:11) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep right to D.Adams. PENALTY on SEA-T.McDaniel, Defensive Offside, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 33 - No Play.
2nd and 5 at SEA 28 (13:05) (Shotgun) E.Lacy up the middle to SEA 31 for -3 yards (M.Bennett).
3rd and 8 at SEA 31 (12:19) (Shotgun) PENALTY on GB-B.Bulaga, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 31 - No Play.
3rd and 13 at SEA 36 (11:58) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep middle to R.Cobb. PENALTY on SEA-C.Avril, Illegal Use of Hands, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 36 - No Play.
1st and 10 at SEA 31 (11:51) (Shotgun) E.Lacy up the middle to SEA 27 for 4 yards (K.Wright).
2nd and 6 at SEA 27 (11:09) (Shotgun) R.Cobb left tackle to SEA 24 for 3 yards (E.Thomas).
3rd and 3 at SEA 24 (10:26) (Shotgun) E.Lacy left guard to SEA 22 for 2 yards (O.Schofield; B.Wagner).
4th and 1 at SEA 22 (9:42) M.Crosby 40 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-B.Goode, Holder-T.Masthay. 16 0
GB DRIVE TOTALS: 6 plays, 11 yards, 3:41


Seattle's offense did not get its first first down of the game until about half-way through the second quarter.

Near the end of the 2nd quarter, Seattle drove to the GB 18. On 3rd and 8, Wilson threw a pass to the end zone that was intercepted.

The half eventually ended with GB leading 16-0.

On Seattle's 2nd possession of the 2nd half, the Seahawks drove to the GB 19. On 4th and 10, trailing 16-0 with about 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Seahawks executed the fake field goal for a touchdown.

The holder took the snap and rolled to his right and lobbed a pass to a wide open offensive tackle who was an eligible receiver. He scored easily. The GB special teams got punked.

http://mmqb.si.com/2015/01/19/nfc-championship-game-seahawks-special-teams-onside-kick-fake-field-goal/

Now for the bigger and bolder decision, the play that ignited Seattle’s comeback, punter Jon Ryan’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Garry Gilliam on a fake field goal. Ryan had been lobbying for the call during the week of practice, after special teams coach Brian Schneider’s staff identified the weak link in the Packers field goal block team.

Reserve linebacker Brad Jones was recklessly aggressive coming off the edge on film. He consistently darted hard to the inside in an effort to get the block, and often went to unnecessary lengths to do so. Against Dallas in their divisional game, he lined up on the left side three times and on the right once, and on one attempt he tried to leap over a blocker only to get stonewalled.

So with five minutes left in the third quarter and Seattle still trailing 16-0, Carroll gave Ryan the go-ahead to execute a fake specifically designed for this game. Ryan had two options:

1. Take the snap and roll out to Jones’ side with either Garry Gilliam (left side) or Luke Willson (right) as a receiving option. If the linebacker covers the receiver, Ryan should run. If not, throw it.

2. If Jones isn’t on the field, take a delay of game penalty and then kick the field goal.

“Kickers are head-jobs anyway,” Ryan said within earshot of Hauschka, “so you don’t want to screw them around.”

Jones showed up on the left side, which meant undrafted rookie tackle Garry Gilliam would get the throw if necessary. Gilliam, a converted tight end out of Penn State, hadn’t caught a touchdown since high school.

“I broke the huddle like, Please be on my side, please be on my side,” Gilliam says. “And then [Jones] was.”

Linebacker A.J. Hawk committed to stopping Ryan’s run, so Ryan lofted the ball over Hawk and into Gilliam’s mitts, becoming the second Canadian to throw a touchdown in the NFL playoffs (the first was Mark Rypien).

Early in the 4th quarter, GB drove 57 yards to the Seattle 30, and M. Crosby made a 48-yard field goal. GB led 19-7 with about 11 minutes left in the game.

Seattle's next possession chewed up clock, but the Seahawks only made it to mid-field. I thought that Seattle might go for it on 4th down, but it was 4th and long, so Seattle chose the safe play and punted with the hope that the Seahawks could force a quick GB 3-and-out, which is what happened.

First, here's the Seattle play-by-play that stalled at midfield.

M.Crosby kicks 68 yards from GB 35 to SEA -3. D.Baldwin to SEA 13 for 16 yards (J.Bush). 19 7
1st and 10 at SEA 13 (10:46) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete short middle to L.Willson.
2nd and 10 at SEA 13 (10:41) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short left to L.Willson pushed ob at SEA 16 for 3 yards (S.Barrington).
3rd and 7 at SEA 16 (10:07) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to R.Lockette to SEA 27 for 11 yards (M.Burnett).
1st and 10 at SEA 27 (9:34) (Shotgun) M.Lynch right tackle to SEA 40 for 13 yards (S.Barrington).
1st and 10 at SEA 40 (9:08) (Shotgun) R.Wilson scrambles right end to SEA 44 for 4 yards (C.Matthews).
2nd and 6 at SEA 44 (8:28) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete short left to D.Baldwin.
3rd and 6 at SEA 44 (8:22) (Shotgun) M.Lynch up the middle to GB 45 for 11 yards (S.Barrington; H.Clinton-Dix).
1st and 10 at GB 45 (7:52) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Wilson sacked at 50 for -5 yards (M.Burnett).
2nd and 15 at 50 (7:11) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete short middle to K.Norwood (H.Clinton-Dix).
3rd and 15 at 50 (7:07) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete deep middle to D.Baldwin (C.Hayward) [D.Jones].
4th and 15 at 50 (7:01) J.Ryan punts 37 yards to GB 13, Center-C.Gresham, fair catch by M.Hyde.


So now Green Bay has the ball on its own 13-yard line, leading 19-7 with only 6:53 left in the game. The best team would kill some clock here by at least gaining one first down before punting but not GB.

Two rushing plays and then an incomplete pass, netted GB only 6 yards.

Green Bay at 6:53 GNB SEA
1st and 10 at GB 13 (6:53) (Shotgun) J.Starks right end to GB 14 for 1 yard (K.Wright).
2nd and 9 at GB 14 (6:09) (Shotgun) J.Starks up the middle to GB 19 for 5 yards (K.Wright).
3rd and 4 at GB 19 (5:26) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to A.Quarless (K.Wright).
4th and 4 at GB 19 (5:22) T.Masthay punts 37 yards to SEA 44, Center-B.Goode. B.Walters to SEA 46 for 2 yards (D.House; B.Bostick).
GB DRIVE TOTALS: 3 plays, 6 yards, 1:40


Seattle started on its own 46 with 5:13 left. If GB had made one first down on its previous possession and then punted, Seattle would have started this driver further back and probably with only around 3:30 left in the game and down two scores.

GB's defense played great for about 55 minutes, good enough to have given GB the win, provided that the McCarthy-Rodgers offense had done a little more.

Since the GB offense failed to secure the win in the first quarter and late in the fourth quarter, it was up to the GB defense to make another stop, and it did.

On the first play from its own 46, Wilson threw an interception.

Seattle at 5:13
1st and 10 at SEA 46 (5:13) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short middle intended for J.Kearse INTERCEPTED by M.Burnett at GB 39. M.Burnett to GB 43 for 4 yards. Went down on his own.
SEA DRIVE TOTALS: 1 play, 0 yards, 0:09

I did not see the interception. We visited our parents, and I was packing up while following the play-by-play on my iPhone at the ESPN website. I rejoined the TV broadcast when Seattle got the ball back next.

But I heard that M.Burnett could have returned the interception for more yardage. I guess GB assumed that would be the game, since it was two scores. When I saw the interception play mentioned on my phone, I thought that might do it.

So GB has the ball at its own 43-yard-line with 5:04 left and leading 19-7. The key was the amount of time left. It was not 2:04 left.

With the starting field position near midfield, I thought that GB would be a bit more aggressive with trying to get at least one first down. But GB rushed the ball all three times and netted a minus-4 yards. Incredibly horrible play-calling, especially when GB has one of the best QBs in the game.

So on back-to-back possessions with the score 19-7, GB went three-and-out by rushing 5 times and passing only once with Aaron Rodgers as the QB.

McCarthy must have coached scared on those two possessions. He must have been afraid of the incomplete pass stopping the clock. But too much time remained anyway and Seattle still had timeouts plus the two-minute warning.

Here's the GB play-by-play after the Wilson interception:

Green Bay at 5:04
1st and 10 at GB 43 (5:04) (Shotgun) E.Lacy left tackle to GB 39 for -4 yards (K.Williams).
Timeout #1 by SEA at 04:57.
2nd and 14 at GB 39 (4:57) (Shotgun) E.Lacy left tackle to GB 37 for -2 yards (M.Bennett).
Timeout #2 by SEA at 04:50.
3rd and 16 at GB 37 (4:50) (Shotgun) E.Lacy up the middle to GB 39 for 2 yards (B.Wagner; M.Bennett).
4th and 14 at GB 39 (4:00) T.Masthay punts 30 yards to SEA 31, Center-B.Goode, out of bounds.
GB DRIVE TOTALS: 3 plays, -4 yards, 1:12


After the GB punt, Seattle started on its own 31 yard line. The GB defense had nothing left now.

Seattle easily and quickly drove for a TD score.

Seattle at 3:52
1st and 10 at SEA 31 (3:52) (Shotgun) M.Lynch up the middle to SEA 45 for 14 yards (C.Hayward).
1st and 10 at SEA 45 (3:30) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to D.Baldwin to GB 35 for 20 yards (T.Williams).
1st and 10 at GB 35 (3:07) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete deep right to J.Kearse.
2nd and 10 at GB 35 (3:02) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep right to M.Lynch for 35 yards, TOUCHDOWN. The Replay Official challenged the runner was in bounds ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep right to M.Lynch ran ob at GB 9 for 26 yards.
1st and 9 at GB 9 (2:57) (Shotgun) M.Lynch up the middle to GB 5 for 4 yards (J.Peppers; M.Neal).
2nd and 5 at GB 5 (2:36) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Wilson scrambles left tackle to GB 1 for 4 yards (H.Clinton-Dix).
3rd and 1 at GB 1 (2:13) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Wilson left tackle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN. S.Hauschka extra point is GOOD, Center-C.Gresham, Holder-J.Ryan. 19 14
SEA DRIVE TOTALS: 7 plays, 69 yards, 1:43


With only a little over 2 minutes left, it came down to the onside kick that is rarely successful, and this one should have failed too for the kick team. The onside kick was popped up into the air. The GB tight end mistimed his jump, and he was coming down when the ball was also coming down to him. But the TE made the mistake of trying to catch the ball by cradling it or corralling it against his chest, instead of reaching up and snatching it with his fingers. The ball went through his cradled arms and bounced off his chest and Seattle covered. Unbelievable.

Seattle drove easily for another touchdown.

Seattle at 2:09
(Onside Kick formation) S.Hauschka kicks onside 15 yards from SEA 35 to 50, impetus ends at SEA 48. RECOVERED by SEA-C.Matthews. 19 14
1st and 10 at 50 (2:07) (No Huddle) R.Wilson right end ran ob at GB 35 for 15 yards.
1st and 10 at GB 35 (2:01) M.Lynch right end to GB 32 for 3 yards (M.Burnett).
Two-Minute Warning
2nd and 7 at GB 32 (1:56) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to L.Willson to GB 24 for 8 yards (A.Hawk; T.Williams).
1st and 10 at GB 24 (1:33) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Lynch left tackle for 24 yards, TOUCHDOWN. TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. R.Wilson pass to L.Willson is complete. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS. 19 22
SEA DRIVE TOTALS: 4 plays, 50 yards, 0:44


In a game with amazing plays and amazing bungles, the two-point conversion on the above touchdown was also stunning. Wilson was under pressure. He scrambled and heaved a hail-Mary type of pass back across field that was caught in the end zone for the two-point conversion. A Packer DB was nearby the receiver, but for some inexplicable reason, he failed to make an attempt at stopping the pass completion.

The two-point conversion made the score 22-19 Seattle with around 1:30 left. Aaron Rodgers led the GB offense into Seattle territory. This is why GB should have been more aggressive on its two previous possessions. It's Rodgers.

With only seconds left, Crosby made a 48-yard field goal to tie the game at 22. A big-time clutch kick, outdoors in some weather that saw a mix of rain and sunshine during the game. Wow. The kick was nearly blocked too.

Seattle had one time-out left, but head coach Pete Carroll did not use it to attempt to "ice" the kicker.

Here's the game-tying Packer play-by-play:

Green Bay at 1:25
S.Hauschka kicks 61 yards from SEA 35 to GB 4. M.Hyde to GB 22 for 18 yards (R.Lockette).
1st and 10 at GB 22 (1:19) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short left to J.Nelson to GB 37 for 15 yards (B.Maxwell).
1st and 10 at GB 37 (1:00) (No Huddle, Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short middle to R.Cobb to SEA 48 for 15 yards (E.Thomas).
1st and 10 at SEA 48 (:43) (No Huddle, Shotgun) A.Rodgers scrambles right end ran ob at SEA 36 for 12 yards.
1st and 10 at SEA 36 (:35) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to E.Lacy.
2nd and 10 at SEA 36 (:30) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to R.Rodgers.
3rd and 10 at SEA 36 (:26) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short left to J.Nelson to SEA 30 for 6 yards (R.Sherman) [L.Cohen].
Timeout #1 by GB at 00:19.
4th and 4 at SEA 30 (:19) M.Crosby 48 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-B.Goode, Holder-T.Masthay.


If that goofy, desperation-pass on the two-point play had been defended, that kick would have been the game-winner. GB would have won 22-20.

But too many other would-have, could-have, and should-haves occurred earlier in the game for GB that could have made the game out of reach for Seattle at the end.

After the tying field, Seattle took a knee to go to overtime, so that drive does not count in my book.

Seattle won the toss and took the ball first in overtime and they drove right through the GB offense for the game-winning touchdown. Three straight touchdown drives for Seattle.

Green Bay at 15:00
M.Crosby kicks 66 yards from GB 35 to SEA -1. D.Baldwin to SEA 13 for 14 yards (C.Banjo).
1st and 10 at SEA 13 (14:51) (Shotgun) M.Lynch up the middle to SEA 17 for 4 yards (M.Burnett).
2nd and 6 at SEA 17 (14:20) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to D.Baldwin pushed ob at SEA 27 for 10 yards (C.Matthews).
1st and 10 at SEA 27 (13:50) (Shotgun) M.Lynch left tackle to SEA 31 for 4 yards (M.Daniels; N.Perry).
2nd and 6 at SEA 31 (13:17) (Shotgun) R.Wilson sacked at SEA 30 for -1 yards (sack split by J.Peppers and L.Guion).
3rd and 7 at SEA 30 (12:36) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep right to D.Baldwin to GB 35 for 35 yards (C.Hayward).
1st and 10 at GB 35 Jermaine Kearse 35 Yd pass from Russell Wilson 22 28
END GAME
SEA DRIVE TOTALS: 6 plays, 87 yards, 3:19


87 yards in only 6 plays, including back-to-back 35-yard pass plays to end the game. The Packer defense was non-existent at the end of regulation and in overtime.

Since GB offense did not get a chance, some are whining about the overtime rules. Sorry, but the GB offense had PLENTY of chances in regulation to extend the lead and end the game. GB offense squandered too much great starting field possessions. The GB offense failed to gain a single first down on two consecutive drives when leading 19-7.

The game should have never gone to overtime if the GB offense had played better. And the Packer defense and special teams contributed to the defeat.

Allowing a good team like Seattle to hang around and have a chance was obviously a recipe for disaster.

The fine score could have/should have been 27-7. By blowing that, then no way did the best team lose that game. The best team played great defense to force field goals and execute special teams plays and then make the offensive plays at the end.

Green Bay successfully managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory. And Seattle is a heck of a team to pull off an amazing comeback. Wilson made an amazing pass on the touchdown that ended the game in overtime.

I think Seattle will beat New England in the Super Bowl, but I'm guessing that it will be exciting with the game ending in the final seconds. Maybe it will also go to overtime.

My prediction: Seattle 31 - New England 27.

Photo gallery.
http://mmqb.si.com/2015/01/19/seahawks-packers-nfc-championship-game/

Other stories:

http://q.usatoday.com/2015/01/18/mike-mccarthy-at-fault-for-green-bay-packers-historic-collapse/

McCarthy isn’t solely to blame for the loss. Brandon Bostick could have put the game away by catching Seattle’s onside kick. Burnett could have picked up more yardage after his pick instead of sliding with a lot of green ahead of him. And Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could have made a play on the hail mary pass Russell Wilson threw up on the two-point conversion to extend the Seahawks’ lead to three.

But McCarthy allowed those plays to happen by being unwilling to give Rodgers — the MVP — a chance to put the game away. He wouldn’t even take that minor risk after Seattle had essentially given the game away with turnovers.

The Packers ‘coach seemed to be content with his team’s 12-point, fourth-quarter lead. When it came time to put the game away, McCarthy took the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands and put it on the run game.

“If you want to question my playcalling … I’m not questioning it” McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I came in here to run the ball. The one statistic I had has as far as a target to hit was 20 rushing attempts in the second half; I thought that would be a very important target to hit for our offense.”

McCarthy wanted to make sure the clock was running after every play, and didn’t trust the best quarterback in the game to get the job done.

And what exactly gave McCarthy that confidence in his run game, given that he appeared to lack it completely in the first half? The Packers opted for two short field goals over going for it on fourth-and-short. McCarthy didn’t trust Eddie Lacy — who is 230 pounds and runs like he’s 330 — to pick up a yard, but did think he could pick up 10 when the Seahawks were loaded up to stop him. Nonsense.


http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2015/01/18/nfc-championship-game-defeat-seattle-aaron-rodgers-overtime/21968815/

The Packers much-maligned defense had intercepted quarterback Russell Wilson four times and sacked him on four other occasions. The Seahawks resembled a staggered boxer only to have Green Bay let the reigning Super Bowl champions off the ropes.

The Seahawks began their comeback with a little trickery. Jon Ryan set up for a field goal only to take the snap and complete a 19-yard touchdown pass to rookie tackle Gary Gilliam. Then, reserve receiver Chris Matthews recovered Steven Hauschka's onside kick that bounced off Packers backup tight end Brandon Bostick's helmet. It set up Marshawn Lynch's 24-yard touchdown run capped by Wilson's two-point conversion pass for Seattle's first lead 22-19 with 1:25 left.

"I was supposed to block," Bostick said. "I just reacted to the ball. I thought I could get it. Obviously, I couldn't."

It was the microcosm for an opportunity that slipped away.

Cornerback Tramon Williams, beaten by receiver Jermaine Kearse on the winning touchdown 3:19 into overtime, described the collapse as a slow-motion car wreck.

Rodgers didn't have his best statistical day, throwing for 178 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.


http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/mike-mccarthy-should-get-plenty-of-blame-for-packers-loss-b99429413z1-289103671.html

One by one, players consoled Green Bay Packers tight end Brandon Bostick. After Sunday's 28-22 overtime loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship Game.

Definitely, it's not Bostick's fault. That was a bad play, but it was one of MANY bad plays by the all facets of the Packer game, including its coaching staff.

Now the subhuman trash part from Internet trolls:

he sat slumped in his locker for 15, 20 minutes, thumbing through messages on his phone.

You know it's a dangerous exercise, too.

One click of Twitter and he'd see one "Go to hell. (Expletive) you." One "Go die." Another "You (expletive) suck." An "I hate you so much." Dozens upon dozens of threats from miserable souls. The response to his dropped onside kick has been as nasty as 140 characters get.

And the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Bostick — a player most of the 50 million viewers never heard of and former Division II receiver from Newberry College — stood in front of cameras and took the blame.

Inside the depressing, dreary locker room, Bostick didn't refuse to speak. Embarrassed. The Goat. The most obvious reason everyone here was paralyzed in shock said he tried to the catch the ball when he should have blocked.

I believe Nelson was right behind Bostick. So if Bostick blocked and let the ball go, in theory, Nelson would have caught it. But if Bostick blocked and if the ball dropped down between Bostick and Nelson, then Bostick would be ripped for not trying to catch it.

Ten years from now, people might remember this as the "Bostick Game," when it should be known as the "McCarthy Game."

The loss to the Seahawks should have never boiled down to Bostick on a hands team.

Morgan Burnett slid (on his interception). Ha Ha Clinton-Dix hesitated (on a two-point attempt). Tramon Williams was beat one-on-one (on the game-winner).

But a painfully passive plan from McCarthy was central to the unfathomable collapse. Given countless chances to dethrone the champs with one bold decision, he balked.

Unlike Bostick, McCarthy didn't point the finger at himself after the game. Regrets? No regrets.

"I don't regret anything," McCarthy said. "Hell, I expected to win the game. We were positioned to win the game."

Well, technically. But McCarthy had them "positioned" to win by a field goal when they should've been "positioned" to win by 28 points. Pointing to two three-and-out drives alone is simplistic. Yes, if Green Bay throws incomplete in the fourth quarter, we're all hounding the play-caller for not feeding his 240-pound running back Eddie Lacy.

But one game from the Super Bowl, passive took many forms.

Try two fourth and goals from the Seattle 1-yard line to start the game. His "points were at a premium" argument is flawed. You go for it at the doorstep against Seattle here because it's so hard just to get to the 1-yard line against Seattle. And odyssey inside the 5 against this crew is rare.

It was the first quarter. It seemed like a good time to attempt a 4th and goal play for a touchdown, especially on the first drive when GB was at he half-yard line. GB didn't really earn those two field position possessions. Seattle gave them to GB, and GB failed to capitalize on the gifts.

If Seattle plays cleaner football, then I think Seattle beats New England. I think the Seahawks defense will be the difference.

Kicker Mason Crosby, who was money all game, got the call. Made his kicks. He was hopeful they'd hang on for dear life.

"We could have been up 21 on them there," Crosby said. "The coulda, woulda, shoulda game doesn't really pan out. It looked like we were going to be able to capitalize and get this one without scoring those touchdowns."

There were no deep balls against Seattle's single-high coverage even after Earl Thomas (shoulder) and Richard Sherman (elbow) suffered injuries. The "shot play" — a McCarthy staple when this Packers offense is humming — might've been accidentally deleted from the tablet. Green Bay dinked and dunked and tried to get Lacy his 20 carries in the second half. A "target," McCarthy said.

The Packers passed on two more fourth-and-one plays. One from the Seattle 22 to kick a field goal; one in the third quarter at midfield to punt. The latter, ahead 16-0, would've bloodied Seattle for good.

Instead, a bolder, more resourceful team knocked out the Packers.

Working with slingshots and water guns to McCarthy's muzzleloaders, the Seahawks became the imaginative offense. The outside-the-box thinkers. They called a fake field goal down 16-0, knowing mercurial Brad Jones would haphazardly crash into their booby trap. They snuck a pick play on Green Bay to free Marshawn Lynch up the sideline for 26 yards that set up the second score.

In overtime, seeing the Packers with zero safeties deep, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson checked to the game-winning deep ball.

Player error is expected.

But when Josh Sitton says the Packers "kicked their (expletive) up and down the field all day," he's right. When Aaron Rodgers says they "gave it away," he's right. When Randall Cobb agrees the Packers were the better team, he's right. McCarthy certainly did something right leading up to this game.

Whoa.

  • Josh Sitton says the Packers "kicked their (expletive) up and down the field all day,"

Wrong. The Packers offense had great field possession on three drives, and the offense only scored 9 points. At least they got field goals, I guess.

GB offense started at the:

  • Seattle 19 and scored 3 points
  • Seattle 23 and scored 3 points
  • Seattle 33 and scored 3 points

The above futility invalidates this remark:

  • When Randall Cobb agrees the Packers were the better team, he's right.

Nope. The best team would have scored at least one TD out of those three drives listed above. And the best team would not have surrendered a TD on a fake field goal. The best team would not have botched covering an onside kick. The best team would have killed more clock when leading 19 to 7. The best team would not portrayed an incredible defensive collapse in the final minutes of the game by surrendering THREE touchdowns on three consecutive Seattle drives, excluding the Seattle possession with 11 seconds left in regulation when Wilson took a knee.

Green Bay's only touchdown drive:

  1. 7 plays, 56 yards, 3:39

Seattle got the ball with 3:52 left in the game, trailing 19-7. Counting overtime play, Seattle scored three touchdowns in a little over 7 minutes of football time.

  1. 7 plays, 69 yards, 1:43
  2. 4 plays, 50 yards, 0:44
  3. 6 plays, 87 yards, 3:19

I would say that Seattle kicked GB's butt up and down the field at the end of the game and in overtime when it counted.

Green Bay's defense played stellar ball for 55 minutes. If GB was the best team, the defense would have played the full 60 minutes.

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/packer-players-look-at-the-plays-that-led-to-a-loss-b99428937z1-289100141.html

Instead of preparing to play in Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers were emptying their lockers. Player...after player...after player insisted that they were the better team in Sunday's 28-22 overtime loss in Seattle.

This autopsy made no sense.

"We kicked their (expletive) up and down the field all day," left guard Josh Sitton said. "And there's no reason we shouldn't have won the game. Literally one of 10 plays you can pick that if we get it, we win the game. It's frustrating when you should have won the game, and you're the better team.

"I thought we were the better team all day except for three minutes."

Nearby, Randall Cobb is told of Sitton's comments. He agrees, chuckling in disbelief.

"I mean, look at the game," Cobb said. "Go back and watch the film. You look at those first 55 minutes and it speaks for itself."

Across the "G" carpet, cornerback Davon House is sold, too.

"You watch the film," House said, "there's no question we're better than them....Usually you say the better team wins. We were the better team. They won."

Wow. Delusional. 55 minutes is not the entire game. And the two early turnovers by Seattle were gifts to GB. Green Bay's defense did not force Wilson's first interception. It was a pass that should have been caught by the Seattle receiver. And the fumble on the kick return was more about the bad play by the return man than the GB special teams.

So GB was lucky to have those two gift turnovers deep in Seattle territory. If GB kicked butt, the Packers would have led 14-0 instead of 6-0. The Packers would have made Seattle pay for those gift turnovers.

The Patriots didn't fool around when they got close to the end zone against the Colts in the AFC Championship game. The Pats scored TDs.

Tight end Brandon Bostick didn't need to meet with reporters again. But he did. Bostick isn't sure how he'll get past his onside kick of infamy.

For those still in denial, Bostick leapt to retrieve Seattle's onside attempt with 2 minutes, 9 seconds left and the ball slipped through his hands.

His job was to block for receiver Jordy Nelson, lined up behind him.

The Packers do practice onside kicks regularly — Bush said nearly every practice. Even though on this specific onside return Bostick was told to block, players do have the option to react to the ball.

"It's a split-decision job," Bush said. "You either block or you catch the ball. If you feel like you can get it, he's a tight end with great hands. He felt like he could've got it. At the same time, you can say 'Brandon, go block and let Jordy catch it.' It's a decision. That's what we get paid for, to make decisions like that."

Now, Bostick's NFL career reaches a crossroads. The Packers have tried to develop the former Division II wide receiver for three seasons. He flashed Jermichael Finley-like ability early in training camp but never found a role.

Coaches never trusted him within the offense, but they did trust him as a core special teams player.

Bostick planned on meeting with coach Mike McCarthy, tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot and special teams coach Shawn Slocum and then it's back to South Carolina.

I feel bad for Bostick. But it's "only" football, after all. A game. The vermin that hate on Bostick are trash.

Mentally, the bags were probably packed for the Super Bowl when safety Morgan Burnett picked off Russell Wilson with 5 minutes, 4 seconds to go. He secured the tipped ball, slid to the ground and was embraced by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sam Shields and Nick Perry in a celebratory sprawl.

In retrospect, that slide proved costly as Seattle erased that 19-7 deficit immediately.

On the return, Burnett might've scored a touchdown or at least put the Packers in position to add points.

The mild-mannered, soft-spoken Burnett stood by his slide Monday and the signal he received from veteran Julius Peppers to get down.

"I don't take anything back that I did," Burnett said. "It's easy to sit here after and say 'we should have did this, we should have did that.' If the outcome was different, we wouldn't even be talking about it.

"I was just trying to secure the catch, I got the ball in my hand and the main thing was just gaining possession of the ball. And I got the 'no mas' signal, which means 'no more, no return, get down' and secure possession of the ball, give our offense the ball."

The offense stalled and Seattle then proceeded to put together one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

Somehow, two players who were exceptional most of Sunday, combining for 15 tackles, five quarterback hits and 3 1/2 sacks, also combined for what turned out to be one of the worst decisions.


The two-point conversion

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had more interceptions Sunday (two) than he had all regular season (one) — and nearly picked off a third. Yet he also had a gaffe.

On the two-point conversion following Seattle's go-ahead touchdown, Wilson floated right, pump-faked to make Peppers go airborne and then heaved a prayer across his body to tight end Luke Willson.

The lollipop hung in the air for 2.8 seconds, but Clinton-Dix never played the ball, freezing once it arrived.

The rookie wasn't available Monday, but others commented on the play.

"It was tough," starter Sam Shields said. "The ball was in the air, Ha Ha was defending the guy, he didn't have time to get his head around and see the ball, and the ball was already there. The dude made a play. They got a two-point conversion."


The three-and-outs

The most telling postgame quote came from the Packers quarterback. Rodgers and McCarthy, the two most powerful men on offense, rarely disagree publicly. Yet McCarthy drew veiled criticism from Rodgers after the loss. The quarterback lamented the offense's lack of aggressiveness at the end of the game, a nod to the five called runs through back-to-back three-and-outs in the fourth quarter that sparked Seattle's furious rally.

Running into the teeth of Seattle's defense failed.

"You've got to get first downs in those situations," Cobb said Monday, "and we didn't do it."

Failed pass attempts would've invited a totally different criticism. Still, the Packers' record-setting receiving tandem — Cobb and Jordy Nelson combined for 2,806 yards and 25 touchdowns — were rendered useless with a chance to bury Seattle.

The lone pass was a third-down drop by tight end Andrew Quarless.

Eight defenders loaded into the box, the Packers melted only 2 minutes, 52 seconds off the clock.

Of course Cobb wanted the ball, somehow, those two drives.

"Why wouldn't I?" Cobb said. "That's me being a competitor....I want to be a playmaker in those situations, but that's not the way it went. And you've got to trust in each other, and there wasn't a moment when I didn't trust in my teammates, but we didn't handle it the way we should have."


The fake field-goal attempt

And Seattle's comeback is not even possible without Jon Ryan's 19-yard touchdown pass to Garry Gilliam on a fake field-goal attempt in the third quarter.

As one media outlet reported, the only reason the Seahawks even ran the fake was because linebacker Brad Jones was on the field. On film, Seattle noticed that Jones recklessly crashed in for a block every play. Once, against Dallas, Jones even tried leaping a defender.

So, down 16-0, the timing was perfect. Ryan had receiving options left and right, based on where Jones lined up. Ryan rolled to his left as Jones charged in from that side and A.J. Hawk decided to pursue the passer instead of covering Gilliam.

Another major indictment on special teams coach Shawn Slocum.

The so-called best team on the field does NOT get out-coached like that. That's excellent coaching by Seattle.

There are 10, 15 more plays that'll be dissected in the months to come, too.

Right now, players head to their hometowns with a sick feeling, but they're certain of one thing: they were the better team.

Sorry, but the better team won the game and is headed to the Super Bowl, which is better for the fans who want a good game.

Stats from the game:

  • 1st downs: GB 19 and SEA 20
  • 3rd down efficiency: GB 3-14 and SEA 8-16
  • Total Yards: GB 306 and SEA 397
  • Yards per play: GB 4.7 and SEA 5.7
  • Passing Yards: GB 171 and SEA 203
  • Pass Comp-Att: GB 19-34 and SEA 15-30
  • Yards per pass: GB 4.9 and SEA 5.8
  • Interceptions thrown: GB 2 and SEA 4
  • Rushing Yards: GB 135 and SEA 194
  • Rushing Attempts: GB 30 and SEA 35
  • Yards per rush: GBB 4.5 and SEA 5.5
  • Turnovers: GB 2 and SEA 5
  • Possession: GB 32:15 and SEA 31:04

Based upon the above stats, the games appeared to be close with the edge going to Seattle. The question mark would have been the turnovers and how much scoring that led to for GB. The problem was, GB could not capitalize on those turnovers.

Seattle passed for more yards and rush for more yards than the so-called better team that lost.

Seattle's third down efficiency was much better than the so-called better team.

If GB had a 50% 3rd down efficiency rate, then GB probably would have won the game.

Seattle Rushing:

  • M. Lynch: 25 carries for 157 yards, which equals 6.3 yards per carry.

That's an excellent rushing performance by Lynch. Based upon that, how did the alleged better team kick Seattle's butt up and down the field?

Green Bay Rushing:

  • E. Lacy: 21 carries for 73 yards = 3.5 yards per carry.
  • J. Starks: 5 carries for 44 yards = 8.8 yards per carry.

I'm not seeing how GB was the better team. The Packers squandered way too many opportunities on offense, collapsed on defense late, made two key special teams blunders, and was out-coached by Seattle.

The better team won. Without that rugged Seattle defense, then GB would have won. And I think the Seattle defense will slow down Brady and the Patriots offense enough for the Seahawks to win their second straight Super Bowl.


http://mmqb.si.com/2015/01/19/nfl-conference-championship-seahawks-patriots-super-bowl/

http://q.usatoday.com/2015/01/18/seattle-seahawks-beat-green-bay-packers-ot-super-bowl-russell-wilson-comeback/

http://q.usatoday.com/2015/01/19/seahawks-win-exposes-flaw-in-overtime-rules/

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000460359/article/mike-mccarthy-packers-o-not-aggressive-enough

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/18/mike-mccarthy-im-not-questioning-my-play-calling/

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/18/some-seattle-fans-left-early-missed-seahawks-comeback/

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/18/seahawks-cap-wild-comeback-with-overtime-td-to-return-to-super-bowl/

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/19/profootballtalk-russell-wilsons-unlikely-performance-was-one-for-the-ages/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2015/01/18/nfc-championship-game-defeat-seattle-aaron-rodgers-overtime/21968815/

Packers coach Mike McCarthy's post-game press conference
http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/288978271.html

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/rating-the-packers-vs-seahawks-b99428945z1-289108751.html

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