Jan 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks punter
(9) throws a 19 yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal past Green Bay Packers defensive endDatone Jones
(31) during the third quarter in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Miscues Of The Special Kind
Overall, the Packers have proven time and again this year to be a supremely talented squad capable of beating anyone on any given day.
The offense led the way with some record-setting performances while the defense had a Jekyll-&-Hyde feel to it at times, but one area stayed consistently troubling as a whole for most of the season: special teams.
There have been good aspects, for sure.
But the unit as a whole was lacking … severely lacking.
The coverage units routinely gave up too much yardage on kicks and punts, for one thing. But worse than that, on the year they allowed 7 different kicks to get blocked.
Jan 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tackleGarry Gilliam
(79) celebrates his 19 yard touchdown catch on a fake field goal against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
When Sunday started, however, it looked as if this would be a banner day for the unit.
Most of the game saw the coverage units actually hold up well and give the defense a really good starting area.
On an early kickoff we saw them force a fumble that led to a short field and eventual field goal. For his part, Crosby managed a 5-for-5 day that included some clutch kicking at the end to send Green Bay into overtime.
But unfortunately, there were two major gaffes by this unit that directly contributed to the loss.
First, the fake field goal.
Now with this, I’ve heard many people say they should’ve expected it. They are right in a way, but come on. A play like what they did had never worked in the postseason before; in fact, that’s the first time a punter threw a postseason TD.
The funny thing looking back on this is that I was really thinking Green Bay might try one earlier in the game. I was wrong there, but it had me in that mindset to expect it.
It does bother me though that teams have signals and warnings in place in case they believe a fake is coming. That the Packers afterwards say they were given no sign of a fake either means someone wasn’t paying close enough attention, or the Seahawks truly are masters of deception.
I wouldn’t discount either theory here.
Alright, now the onside kick.
Jan 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiverChris Matthews
(13) recovers an onside kick ahead of Green Bay Packers wide receiverJordy Nelson
(87) andBrandon Bostick
(86) during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Before going too deep into it, let’s look at some facts:
– 59 onside kicks were attempted this season
– only 9 were recovered by the kicking team
– those nine recoveries were across only five teams
So … the odds were pretty much against this happening. What happened? Simple: someone didn’t do their job.
That someone was Brandon Bostick.
You’ve seen and heard enough on him already and probably are at least a little upset just hearing his name, but bear with me.
Bostick was supposed to block on that play, which would have cleared room for Jordy Nelson – who was right behind him – to make the catch and most certainly end the game. Then, nobody outside of diehard fans would know his name, but Green Bay gets the win.
Instead, he chooses quickly to jump for it, has it hit him in the hand and helmet, then fall into the waiting arms of a Seattle player. Now everyone knows his name, but his team lost and all he wants to do is be forgotten.
I really feel for the guy. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be a part of an exhilarating win by being the guy who effectively ends a team’s comeback hopes?
The thing is, had he just done his job, the likelihood we see Seattle grab that ball drops significantly, and it is Green Bay going to the Super Bowl.
I wish him no ill will and hope he manages to recover from this one gaffe to have a productive career in Green Bay or elsewhere, but man, did that hurt.
It wasn’t the one thing that prevented a win, but it sure would have helped had he just done his job …
Now, if you saw any of the Packers players talk after the game, they said that they ‘gave it away’. Those two plays on special teams are certainly not the only culprits for the inglorious defeat, but they are undoubtedly prime examples of what went wrong.
Fixing whatever the issues are there – blocking, or coaching, or whatever else it might be – should be priority number one going forward (outside of player re-signings).
Special teams may be the least important area of the three in football, but as Sunday clearly shows they can still do plenty in winning or losing a game for your team.
Next: Zoning Problems