Mike McCarthy was clear about two beliefs on Tuesday.
He believes M.D. Jennings clearly intercepted the Hail Mary pass on the final play of Monday night’s game in Seattle, and he also believes in using the passion and emotion surrounding the controversial loss to galvanize his team, beginning this week against the New Orleans Saints.
“This is a different situation that we’ve been in as a team, but this is a great opportunity to show our character and show our mettle,” McCarthy said. “We’re looking forward to getting out there Sunday.”
McCarthy said he had not read the statement from the league released on Tuesday that defended the officials’ call, upheld on review, of a simultaneous catch by Jennings and Seattle receiver Golden Tate. With a simultaneous catch going to the offense, the Seahawks were awarded a touchdown and a 14-12 victory.
He described the scene on the field as everything unfolded as “total chaos,” but he said he doesn’t feel the league owes him or his team anything. He feels for his players, but his message to them is it’s time to move on.
McCarthy saw the play for the first time on the plane coming back, and what he called a “frustrating day for everybody” began with fans picketing outside Lambeau Field when he came to the stadium from the airport at about 5 a.m.
“You see their passion towards what we’re fighting through and what we’re going to get through,” he said. “Talking prior to the season we spoke on the different challenges and different paths every season brings to you, and this is another challenge.
“Our players are passionate, emotional right now. Understandably so. But it’s time we start channeling our energy towards New Orleans.”
As the Packers do that, they’ll see that their defense has put together back-to-back strong showings following some hiccups in Week 1. They’ll also attempt to build on the second-half performance on offense in Seattle that re-established a run-pass balance after a disastrous first half that featured eight sacks and zero points.
Still, there’s no denying the potential distraction Monday night’s events could create going forward, and McCarthy isn’t naïve to that. He said he has received more text messages and emails from friends and coaching colleagues about that final play than he did after the Packers won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
More than putting it behind them, the Packers are going to have to learn to live with this as part of their 2012 season and succeed in spite of it. That’s the real challenge.
“We need to stay focused,” McCarthy said. “We’re not going to get any help. I know this is going to be a story that everybody’s going to want to continue to talk about and, frankly, I’m not going to act like it’s not there. This is a play I’m sure we’ll see on TV as we move on in our lives. That’s the facts of our business. That’s the beauty of what Steve Sabol has created, God rest his soul.
“The fact of the matter is we’re about New Orleans. We’re in tune with staying true to the integrity of the Green Bay Packers, how we conduct ourselves, being professional during a tough time, during a challenge. A different challenge, but one I’m excited about overcoming. I look at this as an opportunity for us to put another feather in our cap.” Related links