After Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary touchdown pass to Jeff Janis at the end of regulation on Saturday night, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy could have attempted to win the game with a two-point conversion.
McCarthy, instead, sent on kicker Mason Crosby for the game-tying extra point. Moments later, the Packers’ euphoria changed to bitter disappointment when the Arizona Cardinals won the overtime coin flip and quickly drove to the winning touchdown.
“I think anytime you’re in that position, you consider all your options,” McCarthy said during Monday’s season-ending news conference. “The two-point conversion was definitely an option, but it wasn’t the right option. I think that’s completely understood if you just look at the game.”
With a lengthy replay review of Janis’ leaping catch, McCarthy had plenty of time to weigh his options. From one perspective, he had momentum on his side and Rodgers at quarterback. From the other perspective, his defense had allowed 280 yards and his short-handed offense had struggled to make plays against Arizona’s defense.
With Davante Adams inactive and Randall Cobb out with a chest injury sustained during the first quarter, the only three options at wide receiver were James Jones, who had been smothered by Patrick Peterson, and Janis and Jared Abbrederis, who had a combined 11 catches during the regular season. During their previous three possessions, the Packers had mustered only 28 yards on 14 plays. Presumably, Cobb was a key part of the Packers’ two-point plans.
“The way our defense is playing, I had great confidence in stopping Arizona’s offense,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, where we were as far as our young guys at receiver and the two-point plays we had available, I wasn’t comfortable with those particular calls.”
However, it’s worth nothing that Packers were 5-of-7 on two-point plays this season, including three weeks earlier at Arizona and a successful conversion last week at Washington. Also, from 2008 through 2015 — regular season and postseason — the Packers were 0-6-1 in overtime. They were the only team in the league without an overtime win during that span.
“I understand how analytics plays into game management,” McCarthy said, “but from my viewpoint you look at the numbers, but you also have to take in the flow of the game and things that were going on in the football game.”
Now, with rookie cornerback Damarious Randall incorrectly dropping coverage on Larry Fitzgerald’s crossing route on the first play of overtime, the Packers are 0-7-1 in overtime over the past eight seasons. It’s a record that includes playoff losses to the Cardinals in 2009, the Seahawks in 2014 and now the Cardinals again.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.