Hits To Rodgers Bother McCarthy

More than the game-ending no-call on Aaron Rodgers' fumble, it's the helmet-to-helmet hits to Rodgers that irk coach Mike McCarthy.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy voiced unhappiness about the officiating on Sunday, but not on the fumble that ended the season on Sunday at Arizona.

Rather than dwell on the face-mask penalty that wasn't called on Aaron Rodgers' fumble on third down, McCarthy questioned why Bertrand Berry wasn't flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rodgers on second down.

"Really, the only penalties that I really get upset about are player safety," McCarthy said during his season-ending news conference on Wednesday. "I'm more concerned about Aaron Rodgers taking helmet-to-helmet shots that are not being called. That's happened a number of times this year. But the face mask, and some of the calls that went on during the course of the game, I thought the officials let us play on both sides and I'm comfortable with that. I would prefer that than the other."

McCarthy echoed what many of the players have said in the last few days. The Packers made too many mistakes in their 51-45 loss.

"I'm not going to sit here and try to discredit Arizona's victory by no means, because it really doesn't do any good," McCarthy said.

The face mask and the helmet-to-helmet were two of several calls that went against the Packers. While Berry got away with a vicious shot on Rodgers, Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins was flagged for roughing the passer even though he was being held and blocked into Kurt Warner — a hit that resulted in a fluttering pass that Larry Fitzgerald caught for a touchdown after running over Charles Woodson.

"What makes those types of plays hard are the excuses that you get of why those calls weren't called," Woodson said while accepting his defensive-player-of-the-year award on Tuesday. "When I look at the play, the face mask on Aaron, and then I look at the play on Jenkins, it's really kind of the same play. He was getting held and he hits the quarterback's face mask. Then on that play with A-Rod, there is a fumble, there is a face mask almost simultaneously and the excuse is the ref looks at the fumble, but you couldn't see one without the other. I know you all have seen it and we have seen it. You know some calls are going to go your way, some calls are not, but it's the excuses that you get of why they were called or not called that hurts."

Four-point stance

We are going to hit each of these topics in detail in the coming days. But among the highlights from Wednesday's media availability with McCarthy and coordinator Joe Philbin, Dom Capers and Shawn Slocum:

— Slocum continued his defense of kicker Mason Crosby and punter Jeremy Kapinos. Crosby, for instance, made 7-of-8 field goals in indoor games, which shows that his kicks are on line.

— No surgeries are scheduled. Linebacker Jeremy Thompson will have "at least two more opinions," McCarthy said, before deciding how to handle a nerve injury. Justin Harrell is "close to being full recovered."

— McCarthy wouldn't rule out any staff changes. He's evaluating the coaching staff this week. "I like the way the season's gone from a staff standpoint, but we'll look at everything," he said.

— Asked about his game plan against the Cardinals, Capers said: "Well, we did try a lot of different things. When something's not working quite the way you want it do, you go to Plan B. Let me just say Plan A, B or C did not work very well, which was obvious. Part of that was, I think, was two-fold. You had a very hot quarterback that was executing very well. His timing of his throws didn't leave much error in terms of your coverage. And then our execution. You can't miss on some of your coverage matches, and we missed on a few coverage matches, which gave them some things."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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