GREEN BAY – There were plenty of folks who thought throwing a lateral on a trick punt return was a bad idea during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 21-13 victory at Chicago. Among those who thought Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s call wasn’t the right thing to do: His quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.
“Just not a very intelligent call at that point in the game,” Rodgers said in an interview on the NFL Network Monday evening.
The topic was part of a larger interview. Toward the end, Rodgers was asked about McCarthy’s decision to have returner Randall Cobb throw an across-the-field lateral to Jeremy Ross with the Packers up, 21-10, with 8 minutes 11 seconds left in the game.
Ross, of course, muffed Cobb’s throw, and the Bears recovered at the Packers’ 16-yard line. The Green Bay defense forced Chicago to settle for just a field goal, cutting the lead to 21-13.
“I wasn’t thrilled about the call, to be honest with you,” Rodgers said. “We’re up two scores, we’ve been moving the ball pretty well. Maybe not the right call in that situation.”
After the game, McCarthy took responsibility for the call and admitted that he “wish(ed) I had that back.” But on Monday, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum never said that the play was a bad idea.
Asked if the play was set up for a big play had Ross not fumbled, Slocum replied, “I think we were in line. (The Bears’) Eric Weems would have had a competitive try tackling Jeremy. It wasn’t the longest punt, but it was one we could handle and had he caught the ball, if he makes Weems (miss) … It’s going to be a positive gain regardless, and if Weems doesn’t make the play then it could have been a really big one. The problem was we had holding on the play so it would have negated anything that we caught.”
Slocum didn’t think Cobb’s throw was an issue – “It wasn’t a laser shot but the pass was fine,” Slocum said – and said that even though the play didn’t work, upcoming opponents will now have to prepare for it.
Slocum explained that the play was discussed in the Friday game management meeting with the coaches – McCarthy oversees that meeting – and that the timing of the play didn’t make it too risky.
“There is always risk. And I think that you have to decide how you want to look at it,” Slocum said. “There’s a number of ways to look at it, at all situations. That particular situation, based on what happened in the game, where we were, we decided to do it. And it didn’t work out. So we’re the first ones to say, ‘Hey, that wasn’t a good play.’
“We put our team in jeopardy, our defense did an outstanding job right after it and showed the character of our football team, but we don’t need to put our team in that situation from a special-teams perspective.”
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