The Packers Risk-Averse Approach Aids In Playoff Loss
As the age-old saying suggests, when hunger compels you to reach for the life-saving fruit on the tree, you must venture out onto the limb.
True, the limb might snap, but if you manage to land without harm, you can once more venture out on a limb in pursuit of the fruit.
Chances are, you’ll find a sturdy enough limb to secure the prize you seek.
However, if clinging to the trunk out of fear of falling becomes the norm, one thing is sure: safety might prevail, but starvation is inevitable.
This past Sunday, the Green Bay Packers, gripped by caution, ultimately met their demise. At the same time, despite committing five turnovers, the Seattle Seahawks boldly ventured out on a limb and seized the coveted fruit of the NFC Championship.
In the end, it was the boldest team that emerged victorious.
Several key plays vividly illustrate the contrasting mentalities of players and coaches that ultimately determined the outcome.
Although the Packers maintained control for most of the game, their approach was rooted in a mindset of playing not to lose.
In contrast, the Seahawks took calculated risks that yielded monumental rewards. For instance:
Green Bay Packers
Fourth-and-1 at SEA 1, 8:10 in the 1st Quarter
The Packers were presented with a seemingly straightforward task: to advance the ball a mere yard for a touchdown.
However, the Seahawks’ defense stood resolute. Confronted with a fourth-and-1 situation, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy opted for a field goal, eschewing the more assertive path of going for the touchdown.
Fourth-and-1 at SEA 1, 5:10 in the 1st Quarter
Following a turnover by Seattle, the Packers initiated their drive from the Seahawks’ 23-yard line.
Once more, the Seattle defense thwarted Green Bay’s progress, leaving them with a fourth-and-1 predicament. Again, McCarthy erred on caution and opted for the field goal.
Fourth-and-1 at SEA 22, 9:42 in the 2nd Quarter
After a substantial return by Micah Hyde, the Packers commenced another drive from deep within Seattle territory.
Once more, the Seahawk defense proved resilient, forcing the Packers into a fourth-and-1 situation. And once again, McCarthy opted for the field goal.
Fourth-and-1 at GB 48, 11:05 in the 3rd Quarter
In the middle of the field, Green Bay faced their fourth fourth-and-1 situation.
Despite holding a 16-0 lead, having excellent field position, and the fact that their defense had prevented Seattle from scoring, McCarthy chose the cautious approach once more and opted to punt.
Morgan Burnett Interception, 5:13 in the 4th Quarter
Following Morgan Burnett’s fourth interception of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, he deliberately decided not to advance the ball for extra yards and slid to the ground at the Packer 43.
Burnett had the option to gain an additional 10-20 yards, potentially putting the Packers within field goal range.
Fourth-and-10 at GB 19, 4:50 in the 3rd Quarter
Advancing to the Packer 19, and with a 16-0 deficit, Seattle coach Pete Carroll opted for a touchdown.
Rather than relying on his star offensive players, Carroll entrusted the play to his special teams.
Punter Jon Ryan executed a flawless pass in a fake field goal maneuver, connecting with backup offensive tackle Garry Gilliam for a pivotal, game-altering touchdown.
Two-Point Conversion, 1:25 in the 4th Quarter
After seizing their first lead with just ninety seconds left, the Seahawks opted for a two-point conversion.
In a move typical of his style, Wilson scrambled to create space in the pocket.
While falling backward, he launched a high-arching pass toward tight end Luke Wilson.
Clinton “Ha Ha” Dix, who had already secured two interceptions in the game, contested the play.
However, Dix misjudged the timing of the throw, failing to break up the pass.
This allowed Wilson to secure the conversion, giving them a three-point lead.
Many argued that the Packers, who had controlled most of the game, deserved the win.
I hold a contrary view. When you’re the visiting team seeking to dethrone the reigning Super Bowl champions, you must be willing to take bold measures.
This includes deliberately deciding to go for it on any fourth-and-1 situation, even on your opponent’s 1-yard line.
The Packers didn’t commit to this strategy and found themselves essentially clinging to the tree trunk.
Conversely, the Seahawks dared to reach for the fruit on the limb. This calculated risk-taking has now led Seattle to savor the sweetness of a chance at repeating as Super Bowl champions.