When you think about the NFL and football as a whole, you never once think that the possibility of a tie will come into play. This was not the case in Sunday’s game — just ask the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings.
The two teams battled in Green Bay and after 75 minutes of a tied game, the two teams walked into their respected locker rooms trying to grasp what just happened. It was a game that the Packers desperately needed. Coming off of three straight losses and without Aaron Rodgers for a second-straight start, the team was staring down the barrel of a 5-6 record and falling even further behind in the NFC North standings.
The tie put the Packers only a half game out of first place with a matchup coming up on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions, a game that will decide who is going to take over the top spot in the division.
One thing that stood out in this most recent tie was the questionable play-calling and decisions from head coach Mike McCarthy for a third straight week. McCarthy certainly left Scott Tolzien in the game for too long before finally going to Matt Flynn, but it was almost too late. Luckily for McCarthy, Flynn saved his butt and made the decision looked to be the correct one.
However, there were certain drives late in the game where I just don’t understand McCarthy’s calls. I can’t blame him for the calls on the last drive of regulation because Flynn simply missed the third-down throw to Jordy Nelson, but the overtime possessions bothered me.
On the final two possessions of overtime, McCarthy went to a bootleg on first down (both went incomplete) then decided to run up the middle against a loaded box on second down. I believe he should have tried to let Flynn use his arm more and get him into shotgun on second and third downs, while letting the running game get going on first downs. On top of those plays, McCarthy rarely went to screen passes that definitely would have worked.
The Vikings sent a lot of pressure at Flynn in overtime and with them over pursuing and trying to get after the quarterback, McCarthy should have went to the screen game and got the ball in the hands of Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
Overall, the Packers are truly lucky to be where they are today. They have been without Rodgers for basically three weeks and may have him back on Thursday in a battle for first place. If he returns, I believe McCarthy will get his confident play calls back because he trusts Rodgers. However, if he doesn’t return, he should have plenty of confidence in Flynn and let him air the ball out.
If McCarthy needs any reassurance of trusting Flynn against the Lions, he can simply go back to January 1, 2012.