Bo­stick doesn’t shirk from tak­ing blame

But McCarthy’s game plan cen­tral to fail­ure

Packer Plus - - Commentary - Tyler Dunne

Green Bay — One by one, play­ers con­soled Green Bay Pack­ers tight end Bran­don Bo­stick. After Sun­day’s 28-22 over­time loss to Seat­tle in the NFC Cham­pi­onship Game, he sat slumped in his locker for 15, 20 min­utes, thumb­ing through mes­sages on his phone.

You know it’s a dan­ger­ous ex­er­cise, too.

One click of Twit­ter and he’d see one “Go to hell. (Ex­ple­tive) you.” One “Go die.” Another “You (ex­ple­tive) suck.” An “I hate you so much.” Dozens upon dozens of threats from mis­er­able souls. The re­sponse to his dropped on­side kick has been as nasty as 140 char­ac­ters get.

And the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Bo­stick — a player most of the 50 mil­lion view­ers never heard of and for­mer Di­vi­sion II re­ceiver from New­berry Col­lege — stood in front of cam­eras and took the blame.

Inside the de­press­ing, dreary locker room, Bo­stick didn’t refuse to speak. Em­bar­rassed. The Goat. The most ob­vi­ous rea­son ev­ery­one here was par­a­lyzed in shock said he tried to the catch the ball when he should have blocked.

Ten years from now, peo­ple might re­mem­ber this as the “Bo­stick Game,” when it should be known as the “McCarthy Game.”

The loss to the Sea­hawks should have never boiled down to Bo­stick on a hands team.

Mor­gan Bur­nett slid (on his in­ter­cep­tion). Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix hes­i­tated (on a two-point at­tempt). Tra­mon Wil­liams was beat one-on-one (on the game-win­ner).

But a painfully pas­sive plan from McCarthy was cen­tral to the un­fath­omable col­lapse. Given count­less chances to de­throne the champs with one bold decision, he balked.

Un­like Bo­stick, McCarthy didn’t point the fin­ger at him­self after the game. Re­grets? No re­grets.

“I don’t re­gret any­thing,” McCar-

Un­like Bo­stick, McCarthy didn’t point the fin­ger at him­self after the game.

thy said. “Hell, I ex­pected to win the game. We were po­si­tioned to win the game.”

Well, tech­ni­cally. But McCarthy had them “po­si­tioned” to win by a field goal when they should have been “po­si­tioned” to win by 28 points. Point­ing to two three-and-out drives alone is sim­plis­tic. Yes, if Green Bay throws in­com­plete in the fourth quar­ter, we’re all hound­ing the play-caller for not feed­ing his 240-pound run­ning back Ed­die Lacy.

But one game from the Su­per Bowl, pas­sive took many forms.

Try two fourth and goals from the Seat­tle 1-yard line to start the game. His “points were at a pre­mium” ar­gu­ment is flawed. You go for it at the doorstep against Seat­tle here be­cause it’s so hard just to get to the 1-yard line against Seat­tle. An odyssey inside the 5 against this crew is rare.

Two chip shots im­me­di­ately sent the wrong mes­sage to his team.

The Pack­ers were here not to lose, baby. Look out.

Kicker Ma­son Crosby, who was money all game, got the call. Made his kicks. He was hope­ful they’d hang on for dear life.

“We could have been up 21 on them there,” Crosby said. “The coulda, woulda, shoulda game doesn’t re­ally pan out. It looked like we were go­ing to be able to cap­i­tal­ize and get this one with­out scor­ing those touch­downs.”

Yet the head coach con­tin­ued to tip­toe through the ti­tle game. As if Cen­tury-Link were some mine­field.

There were no deep balls against Seat­tle’s sin­gle-high cov­er­age even after Earl Thomas (shoul­der) and Richard Sher­man (el­bow) suf­fered in­juries. The “shot play” — a McCarthy sta­ple when this Pack­ers of­fense is hum­ming — might have been ac­ci­den­tally deleted from the tablet. Green Bay dinked and dunked and tried to get Lacy his 20 car­ries in the sec­ond half. A “tar­get,” McCarthy said.

It was if McCarthy was a boxer per­fectly OK throw­ing j abs and danc­ing around the ring for 12 rounds, hop­ing the cards broke his way in the end. One prob­lem: He was fac­ing Mike Tyson.

The Pack­ers passed on two more fourth-and-one plays. One from the Seat­tle 22 to kick a field goal; one in the third quar­ter at mid­field to punt. The lat­ter, ahead 16-0, would’ve blood­ied Seat­tle for good.

In­stead, a bolder, more re­source­ful team knocked out the Pack­ers.

Work­ing with sling­shots and wa­ter guns to McCarthy’s muz­zleload­ers, the Sea­hawks be­came the imag­ina- tive of­fense. The out­side-the-box thinkers. They called a fake field goal down 16-0, know­ing mer­cu­rial Brad Jones would hap­haz­ardly crash into their booby trap. They sneaked a pick play on Green Bay to free Mar­shawn Lynch up the side­line for 26 yards that set up the sec­ond score.

In over­time, see­ing the Pack­ers with zero safeties deep, Sea­hawks quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wilson checked to the game-win­ning deep ball. Player er­ror is ex­pected. But when Josh Sit­ton says the Pack­ers “kicked their (ex­ple­tive) up and down the field all day,” he’s right. When Aaron Rodgers says they “gave it away,” he’s right. When Ran­dall Cobb agrees the Pack­ers were the bet­ter team, he’s right. McCarthy cer­tainly did some­thing right lead­ing up to this game.

His team played in­spired. The play-call­ing, the decision-mak­ing was unin­spired.

And now the name peo­ple will re­mem­ber for­ever is “Bran­don Bo­stick?” Please. This game — an in­stant seizure, uhh, clas­sic of a game — was far more than that. The lethar­gic coach­ing must not be for­got­ten.

Now, a team that was tough enough, tal­ented enough, to­gether enough to win a Su­per Bowl is fin­ished.

MARK HOFF­MAN / MHOFFMAN@JOUR­NALSEN­TINEL.COM

Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers talks with coach Mike McCarthy on the fi­nal drive of the fourth quar­ter.

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