The final minute of the first half of play in the Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons game on Sunday was one in which all Packers fans turned from hopeful to dismayed (to put it lightly) – it was 60 seconds of pure torture and near disaster.
And while Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had no control over the tipped and kicked ball that was returned by Atlanta linebacker Sean Witherspoon for a touchdown with fewer than 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter, it was McCarthy’s decision to run three unproductive plays in the final 14 seconds that may have huge implications as this week progresses.
And I’m a huge Mike McCarthy fan. However, this was a situation that could have blown up for no good reason.
Here’s the scene: After Atlanta scored on the freak interception to take a 21-10 lead with23 seconds remaining in the game, the Packers took over at their own 32 yard line and lined up in attempt to move the ball 68 yards for a touchdown (insert sarcasm here).
Now we all know that anything can happen in the NFL in a matter of seconds, we can give McCarthy his due in attempting the first couple of plays that took 10 seconds off the clock and had the team facing a 3rd and 10 from the 32.
It was cold and it was clear the Packers were going nowhere.
Coach McCarthy, why didn’t you just have Matt Flynn kneel on it, get everyone into the locker room, and regroup?
No, you had to run a play – a running play to the left that went for no gain.
On top of it, star rookie running back Eddie Lacy turned his ankle on the play and limped into the locker room as the Packers faithful gave the team a healthy dose of boos louder than any heard at the stadium in recent memory.
The play call was ugly, the play was ugly, the team was down by 11 and their star running back gets injured. Does it get any worse than that?
I know I’m not the only one who was upset by this turn of events.
Though Lacy was able to get his ankle taped as tight as a drum and continue playing, he admitted he wasn’t the same and we can only hope that it’s not serious enough to keep him sidelined this week. No doubt, it was sore and he manned up and played through the pain, but it should have never happened that way.
“I just got it re-taped tighter and spatted tighter so I could take away some of the pain,” Lacy told reporters after the game. “It [the ankle] was stationary, but it took away as much pain as it could and I tolerated the rest of it.”
Yes, we all understand injuries can occur at any moment in a football game, but for coach McCarthy to put his players in harms way when it’s unnecessary was simply a bad call at the time.
“I had to improvise, I had to chop my feet just so I don’t put as much pressure on it as I normally would,” Lacy said. And it wasn’t as though Lacy was having an easy day to begin with. Most of 65 total yards he gained came with several Falcons gang tackling. Many times Lacy’s second and third efforts with players draped all over him was the reason he accumulated the yardage that he did.
The guy is simply a beast. We’ve seen that all season. He seems the type who if asked to run through the proverbial brick wall would do so to impress the coaches.
That can be a good thing, but it can also be a curse when it comes to injuries. When you take that much of a beating, sooner or later the injuries will win out.
That’s why Coach McCarthy has to be more conscious of the situation.
With four seconds remaining in the half, were the Packers really going to score on an off-tackle handoff?
Now we can only hope that Lacy’s injury heals up – but we all know how sprained ankles take a long time to heal – and that can be highly detrimental to a running back.