The Packers have thrown caution to the wind at times this season when it comes to special-teams trickeration, but Randall Cobb's backwards pass to Jeremy Ross off a punt took things to a new level on Sunday.
Unfortunately for the Packers, it didn’t work.
With a little more than 8 minutes left and the Packers leading 21-10, the Packers took a gamble after the Bears punted fourth-and-13 from their own 30 when a returning Cobb ran left on a punt return and lobbed a pass across the field to rookie wide receiver Jeremy Ross.
Any chance of the play working ended when Ross dropped the backward cross-field pass from Cobb, leading to a Chicago fumble recovery at the Packers’ 16. Additionally, cornerback Jarrett Bush was called for holding on the play to negate any positive results.
The Bears’ offense failed to gain a single yard from that spot and settled for a 34-yard field goal. Still, Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum remained adamant Monday the play had potential despite its unusual timing and risk.
“I think we were in line,” Slocum said. “(Chicago special-teams gunner) Eric Weems would have had a competitive try tackling Jeremy. It wasn’t the longest punt but it was one we could handle and had he caught the ball, if he makes Weems, it’s going to be a positive gain regardless and if Weems doesn’t make the play then it could have been a really big one. The problem was we had holding on the play so it would have negated anything that we caught.”
Slocum confirmed Cobb could have optioned out of the trick play and stood by the second-year wide receiver’s decision to follow through with the pass to the unproven Ross, recently promoted from the practice squad.
After the game, McCarthy said he green-lit the play because it had big-play potential and Rodgers was dealing with an ankle injury at the time, but during an appearance with NFL Network on Monday, Rodgers voiced his displeasure with the call.
“I wasn’t thrilled about the call, to be honest with you,” Rodgers said. “At that point, I think it was 7:57 on the clock, we’re up two scores, we’ve been moving the ball pretty well. Maybe not the right call in that situation.
“I don’t know about rubbing it in. Just not a very intelligent call at that point in the game.”