Ryan Wood and Pete Dougherty discuss Packers developments from the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. (Feb. 26, 2016) Ryan Wood and Pete Dougherty | USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
INDIANAPOLIS - It isn’t so much their close, season-ending losses that have been bitter in recent years, but rather the way the Green Bay Packers have exited the playoffs.
They have a two-time MVP quarterback, which should give the Packers an advantage in any close game. Yet, in each of the past two seasons, their playoff run has ended in overtime without Aaron Rodgers getting a chance to touch the football.
The Packers defense allowed opening-drive touchdowns to the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, walk-off scores that ended the game after one overtime possession. It’s the only remaining loophole in an overtime system that was revamped before the 2012 season. The first score used to win a sudden-death overtime, regardless of whether it was a touchdown or a 60-yard field goal.
Now, an opening-drive field goal allows a game to continue with the other team getting possession, but not if the first drive ends with a touchdown.
Fair or not, it’s a lot of pressure to put on a defense. Why not allow both teams to get possession in overtime of postseason games? Packers coach Mike McCarthy would be warranted for wanting a more level system, but he isn’t calling for one this offseason.
“It’d be easy for me to say yes,” McCarthy said, “because the fact that you play that long, (you’d like) both teams have an equal opportunity. But I’m not as big into the rule change because I know how much time they put in. I get to watch the process at the owners meeting, especially with (Packers president) Mark Murphy being on the competition committee.”
When asked Thursday at the NFL scouting combine, Packers general manager Ted Thompson said it was “a little higher than my pay grade” to comment on the overtime rules. While there are two general managers and three head coaches on the nine-man committee, Thompson is right in one sense: His boss is one of the seven.
Murphy told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin last month he has no issue with the current overtime setup. Thompson didn’t come down on one side or another Thursday.
“There are people here that can answer that question and give you reasons behind it,” Thompson said. “I’m talking about studies, 20-year studies and 30-year studies and things like that, that I’m not privy to. I think you’d be better off getting an answer from them.”
McCarthy said Murphy’s inclusion on the competition committee has been a “huge benefit” for the franchise. It helps to have someone in the room where decisions are made, involving the Packers in some “top-level” conversations about how the game is played.
Of course, it hasn’t helped the Packers in overtime of postseason games. Two straight years, their Super Bowl aspirations have ended after regulation, without their MVP quarterback touching the ball. Yes, McCarthy would have every reason to demand change. Publicly, he’s accepting the status quo.
“I never really am one to bang my head over something when it’s not the way I think it should be,” McCarthy said. “Because the process is there, and let’s not change the rules once the game starts. We know the rules going into the game. That’s the way I look at it.”
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