Packers notes: Playoffs? Mike McCarthy focused on 10 wins

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (30) celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) and offensive guard Jahri Evans (73) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA.

GREEN BAY - There are multiple scenarios in which the Green Bay Packers can keep their playoff hopes alive going forward despite their 5-6 record.

For coach Mike McCarthy, there is only one scenario that matters: winning 10 games. The Packers would need to run the table to reach that milestone.

“You can sit there and you can jump around and look at schedules and all that,” McCarthy said. “I’m sure that’s fun for the fans and all the potential scenarios and all that, but at the end of the day, if you don’t get to 10 wins, to me there’s nothing else to talk about.

"We’re at five. We’ve got to get to six, and that’s what really it’s all about. Got to get to six. We’re at six losses. That’s always been our mindset when we get to this point in the season. It’s no different this year.”

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Confusion at the end: The Packers got the ball at their own 18-yard line with 1:20 left and a chance to take the lead Sunday night at Pittsburgh, but what happened in the ensuing minute played a major role in their eventual 31-28 loss.

With the score tied 28-28, McCarthy said the Packers had every intention of going into their 2-minute offense and trying to win the game in regulation, but on first down quarterback Brett Hundley was sacked for a 6-yard loss by Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt.

It was a legal helmet-to-helmet hit because Hundley was scrambling between the tackles and had given up his protection as a passer. McCarthy thought it was an illegal hit, but the officials didn’t call a penalty or stop the clock to see if Hundley was OK.

“There was a hit on the first play,” McCarthy said. “We all recognized it. The quarterback wasn’t checked on the play. The play entry (from McCarthy to Hundley) wasn’t in a timely fashion like it normally would be on a second down of a 2-minute drill.”

Hundley got the play off in time and swung a pass out to running back Jamaal Williams in the flat. Williams gained 3 yards and ran out of bounds, stopping the clock with 32 seconds left. In the scramble to get off the play, he had not been made aware the Packers were no longer in 2-minute.

Had he stayed in bounds, Pittsburgh would have had to decide whether to burn a timeout or let the clock run and play for overtime. Instead, the clock stopped automatically and McCarthy called a running play on third-and-13 to try to burn more time.

“When we got to third-and-long, I obviously played for overtime,” McCarthy said.

Pittsburgh had all three timeouts remaining, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered if Williams had stayed in bounds. They could have stopped the clock after second and third down and still had the timeout they needed before they kicked the game-winning field goal with 4 seconds left.

"I don't fault Jamaal for going out of bounds on the second down," McCarthy said.

Swing and a miss: Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell racked up 183 total yards on 32 touches against the Packers on Sunday. He carried the ball 20 times for 95 yards (4.8 per carry) and caught 12 passes for 88 yards (7.3 yards per reception).

And if there was a common theme to Bell’s success, missed tackles might have been it. Whether he was in the backfield, along the sideline or over the middle, Bell made Packers’ defenders swing and miss more than Clayton Kershaw.

“We felt confident that we were going to win the tackling battle, and that wasn’t the case,” McCarthy said. “I think we were -10 in that area. We missed way too many tackles. I think it was our worst performance of the year.”


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