What We Learned in the NFC Championship Game

IMG_0989.JPGPostseason heartbreak has become a familiar sentiment for Packers fans of late. Sunday’s defensive meltdown in the game’s final minutes was the Packers’ fourth overtime defeat under Mike McCarthy – the second in an NFC championship game. Despite owning a 16-point lead mid-way into the third quarter – and a 12-point lead with less than four minutes to play – the defense crumbled and gave way to the improbable.

The Packers’ collapse spoiled three and a half quarters of physical, lights-out football on the road. The Packers committed far fewer penalties than Seattle and intercepted Russell Wilson four times. Along with their success versus the pass, the Green Bay defense held Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch in check during the first half. For the game’s first 55 minutes, Dom Capers called the game of his career and the Packers played some of their best road football since McCarthy became head coach in 2006.

The Packer offense, however, failed to keep Seattle out of the game, generating just six points off of the five total turnovers.

The offense’s failure to shut the door on Seattle is puzzling, to say the least. Aaron Rodgers received outstanding protection from his offensive line and played admirably under his lingering calf injury. Running back Eddie Lacy kept the chains moving with big yardage after contact. But overly-conservative play calling paired with bonehead mistakes during the game’s final five minutes set the stage for a Seahawks comeback.

There are too many variables outside a franchise’s control to allow games to slip away the way that the Packers did on Sunday. Though the Packers will surely be in the equation next season, fans have to hope that uncontrollable factors like injuries and officiating don’t compromise a promising regular season. This year, it was only themselves that got in the way of a return to the game’s biggest stage.

About Mike Davidsen

Mike Davidsen grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Finance. Mike has been a Packers season ticket holder all of his life and just recently became a shareholder. Mike joined GPN in May 2010 and specializes in draft analysis.


What We Learned in the NFC Championship Game — 34 Comments

  1. Mike I been a Packers fan since I was a little kid I”m from N.E.
    After the game on Sunday I no the N.F.L. is fix !!! Green Bay was not the team I no . Is there any sport out there that”s not FIX !!!!!

  2. I think the Packers did one heck of a job this year. I would love to see them in person but I know that’ impossible cause I’m in Arizona, but will always be a packer fan to the core

  3. I don’t believe it was fixed, but it was clearly obvious they handed the game to the Hawks. Was a major let down to the fans and personally I believe an apology is in order. Poor coaching and poor defensive calling in the last five minutes of the game.

  4. the nfl I believe sets the win loose category at the beginning of the season. Green Bay was not meant to win. But I’ll always be a CHEESE HEAD!!!!

  5. We need to put this game out of our head and move on. The last 5 minutes were terrible. It was just like the Packers gave up. On to next season and hope this doesn’t happen ever again. Go Pack.

  6. I lmow football is not a fixed game! I will say this for the last time then I will move on until next year, Mike McCarthy’s prevent football in the second half cost this team a chance to play in the big game! While the players did not execute their assignments very well in the prevent I believe if they were allowed to continue to play lights out football like they did the first half they would have won. PREVENT football is for LOSERS and McCarthy is a gutless coach that does not know how to finish a game when they get the lead! Bottom line is he best have learned when you have a lead I don’t care if its 50-0 and 2 minutes left you go for points and you DO NOT play PREVENT football!

  7. The Packers blew this one no doubt. It was a painful loss but hopefully a lesson on no mercy was taken away from this. When you have your opponent on his back with your foot on his throat, you apply more pressure until the dead is done!!

  8. First I’ve coached for 28 years. From pee wee to simi pro. I love the game. There were many things that went wrong in the game. But that’s the nature of the beast. But I would like to know why it’s seems like every time we get up on a team we go into stupid vile and get conservative. It be early in the year or late play offs it cost us the Super Bowl. I have always taught we don’t stop till the last buzzer. Balls to wall till then. Oh and why was we playing men coverage in over time? I know it work most of the game. But no safety back deep you know if they score it’s over. Oh well, love the packers always will.

    • I agree! The defense didn’t crumble or the offense couldn’t move the ball, bottom line, we got a lead and changed our game plan from what was working to obviously too conservative and it caused the loss.
      Why did we only 3 d linemen and play the pass in the last 5 minutes. You can not give any NFL quarterback too much time because he will find an open receiver, and that was exactly what happened. On the offense, we ran 3 times in a row and had to punt, instead of play action pass on 2nd down. Specially, when they were expecting it with 9 in the box.
      We can second guess the game until next season, but on the positive, the coaches and players prepared and executed when hell of a game for the first 3 quarters!
      The Packers will always be my team! GO PACK GO!

  9. I agree with Coach Monk, we have to instill an attitude that when we get somebody down we finish them off. The play calling in the last four minutes was astounding when you have the number one quarterback in the NFL you hand the ball off. I realize that the calf was an issue but just trust the quarterback that got you there and go for it!

  10. Been a Packer fan since I was a kid. So my question is why was our best defense player on the bench the last two series in regulation. Also with the best Quarterback in the league why go in to prevent mode it never works.

    • I also wondered why Matthews was on the bench, And I think the game was fixed but by who? I was a Seahawk fan since day one but hate the way the fans and players have become, For 9 yrs. I’m for the Packers and I live in Washington state. I don’t know what happened but the Packers gave the game away!

    • Every blue moon or so, the Packers sell stock to the fans. The shareholders get the right to attend shareholders’ meetings, but do not actually own a part of the team or have any say in it’s management. It’s a way to enhance the Packers’ revenue. The proceeds from the stock sales go towards renovations and Packers expenses. There have been 5 stock sales to date, and the last was in 2011.

  11. I am still wondering the same thing as the previous fan. Why was Clay Mathews on the sideline? I have heard nothing but silence on this. WHY?

    • I have been asking the same question. We needed to roll out a red carpet for Wilson to run up the middle, (twice no less) and score. All the while Clay Matthews stood on the sideline watching the game when he has shut the door on offensive run games for most of the season. I read somewhere he was hurt. He didn’t look hurt standing there not receiving medical attention. WTH??? I love my Packers but that was a train wreck game. It was ours to loose and we did.

  12. I think from the season, and especially this NFC Championship game, what I take away is that we have to have better red zone play calling! I saw many plays in the red zone break down and Aaron saved the day with his ability to create plays, like the Cobb touchdown. We have to have plays that don’t break down and we can score from. To many lost opportunities!

  13. I would really like to hear an explanation from the coaching staff as to what their plan was for the last quarter and O.T. It looked to me like a different team out there and the players looked frustrated. I could not believe the gaping holes in the defense. I thought they were playing a man short. What gives? It looked like a boxer throwing a fight. Chin out, hands down at his sides, saying hit me, hit me. Still a fan and always will be, but holy cow guys!

  14. to BLAME the DEFENSE ALONE is totally unacceptable. RECEIVERS who couldn’t hold on to the BALL ! a LINEMAN who got a BONE HEAD PENALTY ! a conservative coaches play calling in the 2nd half was simply uncalled for. we play to win when we take the field.
    leave your inhibitions at HOME ! One simply CANT expect the DEFENSE to carry the entire 2nd half alone !anyone that makes such a BONEHEAD penalty should have SAT the ENTIRE game out !

    • I agree with you Richard. The defense played great for 55 minutes. They got the ball back to the offense 5 times with turnovers. The offense was totally lacking the ability to score points. They only came up with one touch down the whole game. Plus 2 picks for Aaron. I still think it was crazy to lay down on the turf after that one interception. He had many yards of uncontested field to run. They say because the ball was wet he did the right thing..Ha Ha the ball was wet all day. That could have gotten us into field goal territory. If your scared you’ll drop the ball if you get hit, head for the side lines. If your scared to get hit play baseball. A lot of fault to go around!

      • It was not Ha Ha who slid to the ground after the 4th quarter INT, it was Morgan Burnett. But Ha Ha did miss an INT which hit him right in the hands.

  15. Listened to the Packers on a radio with my Dad since I was a kid. Coaching was horrible. Games almost over and you give the ball back in one minute? 2 point conversions and you don’t take a time out to remind them not to touch the ball? The last two minutes won the game! I say it’s on the coach and his calls or lack of them. Team played their heart out. I feel sorry for them, not the coach. Pray they all stay healthy for next year. Go Packers.

  16. Great game until the last two minutes. Two bonehead plays and, by the way, four bonehead coaching decisions. Chewing out a player on national tv only served to raise the player tension/nerves and who goes into overtime with three timeouts. The timeouts could have been used to calm everyone down after the fake, after the turnover, strategize, etc. Wasn’t Seattle desperate when they did the fake field goal and Green Bay should have played for the it. Anybody chewing out the coaching staff? In my mind, they blew it for the team.

    • I put full blame for this loss on the coaches. But McCarthy said in his post game interview that he does not question his decisions, that’s for us to do. As long as he has that arrogant attitude and can’t admit to himself and us that he makes mistakes, nothing will change in GB. I fear we’re stuck with an arrogant McCarthy, Capers, and probably Slocum for several more years.

      Watch them all retire when Rodgers starts to decline. More than a bit ironic when McCarthy takes the ball out of Rodgers’ hands at crunch time of big games.

  17. call out any one you want in the collapse, but what it really came down to was mccarty’s refusal to stomp on seattle. what the hell is “i wanted to run the ball 20 times i feel the goal was important”? the conservative play calling lost this one along with capers prevent defense yup that worked it prevented us from winning. what was matthews doing on the sideline? why didn’t we throw for 1st downs instead of running 3 and out…twice. i like MM but he really called a bone head game this time. played the best defense all year..for 55 min. then went soft. man, the dagger in my heart is going to be here all off season. thanks for nothing coaching staff.. nothing but and empty feeling

    • Great point. It’s all good to go into a game with a plan. But late in games, situations determine play calling, not some off the wall “targets” that a coach thought were important to hit before the game.

  18. This is all about the debate of players vs plays that wins games. Vic Ketchman will be adamant again that this was about a lack of execution by our players at crunch time.

    I beg to differ. When you run the ball 5 times into a stacked box, chances are that you will get stuffed, as we did on 2 of our last 3 drives in regulation.

    On our last drive, there was 1:25 left on the clock, and Rodgers needed to drive into FG range for the tying score, or the winning TD. Rodgers drove right down the field while Seahawks were in their base D. Had we played the entire 2nd half this way, we blow out the Hawks. And on that last drive, we didn’t use a single time out. We had 16 seconds left on the clock when Crosby kicked the tying FG. Once again McCarthy got conservative, rather than going for the game winning TD.

    My opinion is that it’s always been a combination of players and plays that determine who wins in the NFL. A few of our players made mistakes, which happens every game for every team. But the failure in this game was to call plays which gave us the best chance to win.

  19. i have an will always be a packer fan but I agree we gave the game away.It was very dissapointing to the fans what is done is done we gotta get over it and pray we do as well next year.But actually make it to the Super Bowl.Love them packers.

  20. i read all of the remarks above. and one i agree with most is the NFL is definitely not fixed he said he knows it. it is SO. i disagree! but then you go on to say it is all on mccarthy. have always thought McCarthy too conservative. lately i think he throws our games on purpose i used to THINK it was conservatism. it started with favre. say what you want about brett favre but a person could see it. and mccarthy gave aaron his break. aaron is in a tough spot. we have the supposedly best QB in the NFL but he won’t let him do anything. where is our passing game??? SINCE McCarthy???? WHY did he not go for a two point conversion the week before??? as far as our defense or players falling down in the end or at any point, have you ever had a bad boss?? you play your heart out for them, your work your butt off for them and promises promises… at a certain point the best person will lay down and let their boss look bad. our Pack played their hearts out and dominated that game. done it so many times since McCarthy. more than five minutes to go and it is play the clock out????? i think our team knew, take the momentum we have been through this so many times, ahead and mccarthy gets ultra conservative. if our team had won in the last few minutes, their coach would have got respect and kept his job, and they know…. they laid down ON PURPOSE. your boss doesn’t trust you….

  21. i was very upset we dominated the game just to let it slip thru poor coaching at the end i been a packer fan my entire life and i always will be but we need some changes

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