Three days later, the sports world continues to buzz about the epic Packers-Cardinals playoff game. And one of the many questions that continues to bubble up from time to time is this: Should the Packers have gone for two after scoring on a :00 Hail Mary pass?
In hindsight, absolutely. But if coach Mike McCarthy had opted to go for two and if his team had failed to convert, he would have become a pin cushion for criticism in the aftermath of what would have become his team’s latest failure in a playoff game. Apart from the fact that coaches who do the conventional and fail get a pass while those who do the unconventional and fail don’t, a McCarthy decision to go for two would have been directly responsible for the fifth straight failure to get to the Super Bowl despite having one of the best quarterbacks of the Super Bowl era on his team.
Indeed, McCarthy arrived a decade ago with a deck more stacked at quarterback than any team since the Montana/Young 49ers. McCarthy had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. And McCarthy has been to the Super Bowl only 10 percent of his time with the team. With only 15 other teams in the NFC chase each year (and with plenty of them not having good quarterbacks), McCarthy’s inability to get to the NFL title game more than once becomes more and more glaring with each passing year.
Going for two and failing could have been the tipping point for McCarthy, providing yet another vacancy after all seven in the current hiring cycle had been filled.
His decision to call out running back Eddie Lacy publicly on Monday possibly flows from the reality that McCarthy knows that he’s now on the hot seat himself, and that another sluggish 2016 regular season capped by a fairly quick exit in the playoffs will be enough to get the Packers to lure a bigger name for the final five years or so of Rodgers’ run.
Considering McCarthy’s potential tenuous status, it’s understandable that he didn’t go for two. If he had, it easily could have worked. Spread the defense out, get in shotgun, and give Rodgers the option to make a quick throw or run a quarterback draw depending on the alignment of the defense.
As Rodney Harrison of NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk said last night, the Arizona defense would have been on its heels and on the ropes, with the Packers having all the momentum and the chance to deliver a knockout blow. But McCarthy doesn’t get fired if he plays it safe, even if kicker Mason Crosby had missed the extra point. If McCarthy had opted to go for the win and emerges with a loss, he possibly would have soon been packing his knick knacks into cardboard boxes.