SEATTLE—The better team didn’t win. Call it sour grapes, if you wish, or call it what it is, the truth.
Except for a fake-field-goal touchdown pass, the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks were helpless to move the football against the Packers. Then, with 3:52 left in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s NFC title game at CenturyLink Field, the Packers became the helpless ones.
“It’s a missed opportunity I’ll probably think about the rest of my career. We were the better team today. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves,” Aaron Rodgers said after seeing his magical run to the Super Bowl ended by a heartbreaking collapse in a 28-22 overtime loss.
The theme of Rodgers’ postgame press conference was regret. Pick one. Failing to recover an onside kick? That’ll work.
Rodgers hinted strongly at regretting the conservative posture the Packers chose in trying to kill the clock while holding a 19-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
“We weren’t playing as aggressive as we usually are,” Rodgers said, referring to two, three-and-out possessions, at a time when the Seahawks’ ship was listing and vulnerable to being sunk for good. It’s important to note that one of those possessions began at the Packers’ 13-yard line, which is dangerous territory to get loose with the football, and it’s also important to note that a third-and-4 pass was dropped by Andrew Quarless, or it would’ve likely brought a new set of downs and who knows what else.
“Not very good,” Rodgers said of those two series. “When you do that, that’s how you lose games.”
Regret was the theme. Pick one.
“We had some chances early. We had some chances to do things late and didn’t do it,” Rodgers said. “You lose the (overtime coin) toss and the next thing you know you’re out.”
Coach Mike McCarthy elected to attempt to finish the game with his four-minute offense, which is heavy with running plays intended to bleed the clock.
“We’ve finished out games before in four-minute; didn’t do it,” McCarthy said.
“We felt good about coming up here to run the football. That was definitely the toughest point in the game to run the football. Their defense was better. I came in here to run the ball. I had a target to hit, 20 rushing attempts in the second half. I felt it was a very important target to hit,” McCarthy explained to a media that pressed him to explain his play-calling choices.
Regrets? Field goals instead of touchdowns early in the game are among the regrets.
“Field goals early; points are at a premium. I would’ve liked to go for it on fourth down, but I just felt you had to take points,” McCarthy said.
“The way we lost. Up two scores with the ball. You’ve got to put that thing away,” Rodgers said.
Regrettably, he’s correct.
“Very confident we were going to win the game. The defense played great; forced a turnover on special teams. You can’t let them complete a pass for a touchdown on a fake field goal, you can’t let them recover an onside kick,” said Rodgers, who included the Packers’ inability to score points in the fourth quarter as a major regret.
“We were on the cusp,” he said. “You just go home. Move on. This one is going to hurt for a while. We gave it away.”
The latter is more than a regret. It’s the truth. COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE