It had no bearing on the outcome of a blowout loss, but Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s decision to send Mason Crosby out to attempt a 55-yard field goal on Sunday night against the New York Giants was a move that defied logic.
Predictably, Crosby missed. He has converted 17 percent of his field goals (1-for-6) from 50 yards and beyond this season and 43 percent (13-for-30) during his career from that distance.
So why would McCarthy, with the odds clearly stacked against him, risk giving the ball to the Giants near midfield midway through the first quarter with the score tied at 7?
“I was going to be aggressive, trying to generate point production early in the game,” McCarthy explained two days after the game. “So that’s why I went for it there.”
After Crosby’s attempt was pushed wide left by the wind at MetLife Stadium, the Giants took over at their 45, drove for a touchdown and assumed the lead for good.
The Giants’ lopsided 38-10 victory shouldn’t excuse McCarthy for his strategic blunder. The missed field goal was the equivalent of a turnover near midfield, which is one sure-fire way to invite defeat.
McCarthy loathes turnovers and never would encourage quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw into triple coverage and risk an interception. Yet that’s essentially what he was doing in having Crosby attempt a low-percentage field goal.
This is not intended as a rap against Crosby, who has struggled this season and ranks last in the NFL, having made just 60 percent of his field goals. He’s a decent kicker with a powerful leg and will in all likelihood break out of his slump.
But McCarthy should have taken Crosby’s recent rough patch into consideration when asking him to make such a difficult kick.
There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive, but that must be tempered with a dose of reality and good sense.
Special teams coach Shawn Slocum said he would do the same thing again.
“You can look at the percentages and statistics a bunch of different ways,” Slocum said. “They have meaning, but at the same time you have to capitalize on your scoring opportunities.”
But there are other ways to create scoring opportunities. How about allowing punter Tim Masthay to pin the Giants deep in their territory, gaining superior field position and giving the defense a chance to force a turnover? That seemed like a wiser option at the time.
“It’s definitely a consideration,” Slocum said. But he steadfastly defends the Packers’ attempt to take a 10-7 lead with a long field goal.
“I don’t think it was a big gamble,” Slocum said.
“We made a decision to do it because Mason is well-capable of doing it. He’s missed more than we would like from 50 yards this year, but at the same time, we’re going to continue to be aggressive the way we play the game.”
The Packers were guilty of not being aggressive enough the week before against the Detroit Lions. They had one timeout and roughly 28 seconds left in the first half but let the clock run down to 3 seconds before sending Crosby out for a 50-yard field goal, which he missed.
Why not run another play, pick up some additional yardage and give Crosby a higher-percentage attempt?
It’s one thing to have confidence in your kicker. It’s another to allow blind faith to rob you of common sense.
— email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.