CHICAGO – Mike McCarthy said part of the reason he tried the trick play on a fourth-quarter punt return was that his quarterback was limping around the sideline with an ankle injury, and the Green Bay Packers coach was hoping Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t have to go back out for another possession.
Well, the plan worked – just not the way McCarthy intended.
The play turned into a disaster – “Clearly not the highlight of my coaching career,” McCarthy was able to joke after the Packers’ 21-13 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. – but didn’t end up costing Green Bay the game.
Leading 21-10 with 8 minutes 11 seconds left in the game, punt returner Randall Cobb caught Adam Podlesh’s 47-yard punt at the Green Bay 23-yard line. Cobb ran to his left, then threw a lateral over to the right to backup returner Jeremy Ross. Cobb’s throw floated, Ross dropped it, and the Bears recovered at the Packers’ 16. Only the defense prevented further damage, not allowing a single yard and forcing Chicago to settle for just a field goal.
Asked why he made the call, McCarthy took full responsibility and replied: “Really, the reason behind the fake punt was Aaron had just come off with an ankle (injury), and we had a couple injuries on the sideline and guys getting ready for the next series. I felt that the potential for the big play on special teams was there.
“It’s a play we’ve been working on. You look for a certain part of the field, the wind, all the factors involved and that’s what it equated to. Now, in the end, it’s not a good decision. Wish I had that back.”
Replays showed that, had Cobb thrown a hard strike to Ross and Ross had caught the ball cleanly, it might’ve been a big play.
“We had the look. I tried to catch it, and it slipped right through my hands, but it was there if I would’ve caught it. There was a chance we would’ve scored a touchdown,” Ross said. “We were just waiting for the right time to do it, and it was the right time. I just didn’t make the catch. If I make the catch, we’re off to the races.”
Perhaps, but the risk was clearly too great. Cobb chose his words carefully when asked about the play.
“We’ve got to execute it. In the end, we had it called, we’ve been practicing it for a few weeks. Coaches called it, we have to execute the play,” Cobb said. “Maybe I could throw a better ball. In the end, we have to execute that play and get it.”
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