For those of you who read wtfcoach.com last year, you know that Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is one of the worst clock management coaches in the league. While the Packers did beat the Bears today 27-17, I thought some of his play calling in the 4th quarter was suspect, especially when they could’ve shortened the game by running the ball and burning the clock. The first situation was with 9:33 left in the game. The Packers had just got a first down on a 3rd and 5 pass for 25 yards and had the ball at midfield. With a two score lead, at least one or two running plays would continue to burn the clock and then you could assess the down/yardage situation for the next play call. On first down, QB Aaron Rodgers threw an interception (Brian Urlacher made a spectacular grab) and all of a sudden momentum was shifting towards the Bears. The Bears went backwards on their series (they should’ve gone for it on 4th and 26 from their own 29 with 7:15 left because they have to score twice and realistically it’s not happening if they punt the ball) so the Packers got the ball back.
On this series, which started with 7:05 left in the game, the Packers throw for 5 yards on first down (clock running), incomplete pass on 2nd down (clock stops), completed pass for first down on 3rd down (clock running), run on first down (clock running), completed pass on 2nd down (Bears use timeout; it looked like the receiver went out of bounds but the officials called it inbounds), and incomplete pass on 3rd down and 15 from the GB 38 (clock stops with 4:09 left). Again, a coach has to balance running off clock with trying to get a first down. But I would say the first play at midfield on the other series and the last incomplete pass on this series could easily have been runs given the situation.
Finally, it has to be pointed out that Coach McCarthy was smart not to punt the ball to Devin Hester with 1:09 left in the game. He just should’ve told his team. What a great fake by Hester to pretend the ball was coming to him when it was on the other side of the field! Not sure where the penalty happened but that would’ve been disastrous for those who bet on the Packers at -3.5 to -4.5 if the punt return had counted!