Commitment to the run?

McCarthy again veers off course as Packers blow lead and lose another game they should have won

Since he took over as head coach of the Packers, Mike McCarthy has stressed the importance of running the football. Yet, for the third straight game, Green Bay's number of rushing attempts has gradually decreased.

It's one thing to try and play catchup by passing the ball against New England after falling behind 21-0, but the Packers were ahead through three quarters Monday night in their loss to the Seahawks and continued to pass. Why?

Brett Favre was questionable with a sore right arm for most of the week leading up to the game. He was uncertain until after Thanksgiving Day if he would continue his amazing starting streak. Yet, McCarthy opted to put the ball in his hands rather than put faith in his offensive line and in Green to pound away and control the game.

Here's Green,who returned to play in Seattle against the Seahawks for the first time since he was traded away by Mike Holmgren in 2000. You think Green wanted to show Holmgren and the Seattle fans what they have been missing? Yet, McCarthy took the ball out of his hands. Green got just 14 carries and finished with 44 yards. He only rushed the ball 9 times against New England and 11 times against Minnesota.

Aside from injured right tackle Mark Tauscher, this is the same offensive line that paved the way for the Packers to get 99 or more yards rushing for five straight games in October and early November. Green Bay struggled with just 47 yards rushing against Minnesota, which features the league's top-ranked rush defense. The Packers were then held to 43 yards against the Patriots, who also have a good rush defense, though, the Packers were forced to be one-dimensional after falling behind by three touchdowns.

On Monday, the Packers took a 21-12 lead on Brett Favre's 48-yard pass completion to Donald Driver early in the third quarter. Green Bay's defense forced the Seahawks to punt on the ensuing possession, but McCarthy called pass plays on two of the next three downs, and Green Bay had to punt. Seattle got the ball back and closed to 21-19 on Matt Hasselbeck's 23-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Hackett.

Still, McCarthy continued to opt for the pass on the next series, running only once on four downs, before the Packers were forced to punt the ball away. The Packers were hoping to do what San Francisco did against Seattle in the preceeding week and rush for more than 200 yards, but McCarthy never gave his troops a chance.

Seattle got the ball back, moving 77 yards, and took a 27-21 lead on Hasselbeck's four-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson. As a result of this score, the Packers were forced to pass more than run the rest of the way, which played right into the Seahawks' hand.

McCarthy dug the Packers into a hole by favoring the pass and neglecting the run in the third quarter. As a result, Seattle, which controlled the ball on the ground all night, got back into the game and grabbed a lead that it never relinquished.

McCarthy was out-coached by Holmgren in the second half, and the Seahawks won a game that they had no business winning. The Packers again lost a game they should have won.

Until McCarthy begins to stand by his commitment to run, the Packers will have a difficult time winning football games.


Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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