McCarthy: Failed 4th down makes you 'sick'

Ryan Wood
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Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy walks off the field after a 38-13 win over the  New York Giants in the NFC wild-card playoff football game at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY - Don’t call him a conservative coach.

Mike McCarthy has received that tag from Green Bay Packers fans for his approach in recent playoff games. The short field goals early in Seattle. The extra point — instead of a 2-point conversion — forcing overtime in Arizona.

It’s more conventionalism than conservatism, but no matter. For some, the tag stuck anyway.

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McCarthy eschewed conservatism Sunday against the New York Giants. With a 14-6 lead in a game their defense controlled, the Packers sat at their own 42-yard line facing fourth-and-inches with a little more than six minutes left in the third quarter.

Instead of punting, McCarthy called for running back Ty Montgomery to follow fullback Aaron Ripkowski from the I-formation. Montgomery was stuffed for a 1-yard loss.

The Packers gave up a 41-yard touchdown pass two plays later, watching the Giants trim their lead to 14-13.

“As a playcaller, as a head coach,” McCarthy said, “you’re sick to yourself. You feel totally responsible for the decision and the execution of the play and so forth, and then give up the play on the second down. But there’s still a lot of football left.”

There was a lot of football left.

The Packer responded with a four-play, 63-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 30-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to receiver Randall Cobb, one of three scores between the duo Sunday. The Giants did not score again.

It will be interesting to watch what McCarthy decides the next time he faces a similar situation. The playoffs are full of them.

“We think from the other side of the fence,” McCarthy said. “It’s about creating opportunities for your team. Obviously, you have confidence in your players to convert the third and fourth down. I had two calls there. Frankly, I wish I would have went with the other one. Not saying that that would have worked either.

“It still comes down to execution. That’s the stuff that every coach goes through, but you’ve got to make those decisions. That’s the game of football.”

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