Coaching decisions are under even more of a microscope in the playoffs and it’s easy to second-guess questionable decisions.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy is a Super Bowl-winning coach with more wins (9) than losses (7) on his lengthy postseason resume. But even he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt sometimes.
McCarthy made a questionable decision by going for a first down on fourth-and-1 from his own 42 in the Packers’ wild-card victory over the New York Giants last Sunday. Green Bay wasw leading 14-6 lead with 6:08 left in the third quarter.
That decision backfired when Ty Montgomery was stopped for a 1-yard loss. The Giants scores two plays later. But the call became a footnote since Green Bay won the game.
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Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett understands the feeling after his clock management was questioned in his second career postseason game two years ago at Green Bay in the divisional round.
Nearing the end of the first half, the Cowboys had a 14-7 lead and were driving in Packers territory. Garrett burned a timeout after Tony Romo and Jason Witten connected for a 6-yard completion to set up a third-and-1 from the Green Bay 27 with 40 seconds left.
On third down, Romo tried to hit Terrance Williams deep, but the past fell incomplete. That brought on the field goal unit for what should have been a 45-yard attempt. A false start penalty by long snapper L.P. Ladouceur made it a 50-yard attempt and Dan Bailey’s kick was blocked.
So Green Bay took over on its own 40 with 29 seconds left. The Packers gained 38 yards and made a field goal at the end of the half to make it a 14-10 game when it easily could have been 17-7 in the Cowboys’ favor.
Garrett has kept an aggressive approach, however, notably throughout this 13-3 season, and intends to keep a similar mindset this time around in the playoffs. He has a 1-1 career record in the postseason.
“You always want to have an attacking style,” Garrett said. “You always want to be aggressive. You try to instill that in your team. As a coaching staff, what you try to do is demonstrate that to your team with the stuff that you’re doing on offense, defense and in the kicking game and certainly the calls you make in the ball game.
“I don’t think you want to do anything outlandish in any way. You want to play the game to win, but we always try to do that.”