McCarthy & Rodgers continue to wilt late in close games : Packers Insider

McCarthy & Rodgers continue to wilt late in close games

October 18, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Oct 19, 2010 ~ by Bob McGinn

~Know what the Green Bay Packers have?

A head coach and a quarterback who can’t win close games.

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers etched another disturbing chapter in their lose-at-the-end football résumés Sunday, managing new ways to come up short for the second week in a row and in overtime, no less.

Dan Carpenter’s 44-yard field goal six minutes into the extra session enabled the underdog Miami Dolphins to leave Lambeau Field with a 23-20 victory over the puzzled and pained Packers.

Now 3-3, the Packers were finding it hard to swallow those three three-point defeats against Chicago, Washington and Miami.

“They’ve all been tight games,” said McCarthy. “They’ve all come down to a critical point, and we’re not getting it done at that particular point. We’re a 3-3 football team that hasn’t won the three close games.”

Rodgers, who was up and down all afternoon, struck an optimistic chord in light of the possibility that cornerback Al Harris (knee) and Atari Bigby (ankle) could play next Sunday against Minnesota. Both are eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list Monday and practice Wednesday.

“It’s disappointing, but I think you’ve got to be realistic,” Rodgers said. “We’re a game back. We still have four division games. We’re getting, hopefully, two studs back this week on defense. Three, if you count Clay (Matthews).”

But if McCarthy and Rodgers intend to turn this season around, don’t bet on them being successful should there be many more games decided by four or fewer points.

In those games, Rodgers has a 1-11 record, a horrendous .083 winning percentage that would be .000 had it not been for a 28-26 victory over Detroit two weeks ago.

Those are the plays in close games that teams coached by McCarthy and quarterbacked by Rodgers habitually have been unable to deliver. And, unless the coach and the quarterback suddenly start making them, it figures to be a winter of considerable discontent in Titletown.

Brett Favre, who will lead the Vikings into Lambeau Field six days from now, posted a 33-30 (.524) record, counting playoffs, in games decided by four or fewer points as the Packers’ starter over 16 years.

Meanwhile, McCarthy is 4-13 in tight games, including 3-2 with Favre under center.

Counting the postseason, McCarthy’s winning percentage of .236 in close games trails Mike Sherman (15-12, .556), Ray Rhodes (3-3, .500) and Mike Holmgren (12-13, .480) since the Packers emerged from the football doldrums in 1992.

No one’s ever written the how-to manual on winning close games in the National Football League, but whatever the “it” is, McCarthy and Rodgers certainly haven’t shown they possess it.

On Sunday, the burden of defeat fell on the offense, their side of the ball. That’s where the game was lost against coach Tony Sparano’s resolute Dolphins, who improved to 3-0 on the road and 3-2 overall.

McCarthy said he was “particularly disappointed” in the offense, especially on third down. A litany of mistakes killed the Packers on third down, leaving them 3 of 13 for the day and an inept 6 of 29 (.207) since halftime of the Detroit game.

The final third-down indignity came in overtime when linebacker Cameron Wake registered his second sack against rookie tackle Bryan Bulaga. After Tim Masthay’s 37-yard punt carried only to the Miami 48, the Dolphins maneuvered 26 yards in seven plays to set up Carpenter and end the Packers’ six-game winning streak at home.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “Good offenses, productive offenses, don’t have the miscues that we have. Negative plays, sacks, penalties. Over the course of six weeks we’ve had too much of that. It doesn’t surprise me that you only scored 20 points when you’re doing that stuff.”

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