GREEN BAY—There will be no Packers quarterback drama this week. Mike McCarthy made sure of that fact immediately following the Packers’ 27-13 loss to the Eagles on Sunday.
“Scott Tolzien will start against the New York Giants,” McCarthy said with an emotionally charged voice. “I’m the head coach. That’s the direction I’m going.”
Tolzien was forced to come off the bench following a groin injury to starter Seneca Wallace in the Packers’ first offensive series of the game on Sunday. Suddenly, a quarterback who was on the Packers’ practice squad just a week ago, was thrust into the first regular-season action of his young career.
“You take away the interceptions, I don’t know that the young man could play much better,” said McCarthy, who praised Tolzien for his performance – 280 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a 70.5 passer rating. McCarthy praised little else about himself or his team’s performance.
“I’ve never lost a quarterback after the first series two weeks in a row. We need to do our job better and it starts with me. I didn't get it done today,” McCarthy said.
Asked for a further explanation, the Packers head coach added: “It starts with me and it ends with me. There are some things we have not done a good job of all year. You don’t lose home games. You have to win your home games. We’ve lost two in six days and it stings.”
At 5-4, the Packers hit the low point in their season on Sunday. They fell out of a first-place tie for the NFC North lead and they lost a game to a 5-5 Eagles team that could turn out to be the Packers’ competition for a wild-card spot, and if that should be the case, the Eagles have clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“Difficult loss,” McCarthy said. “We weren’t good enough. The game came down to half a dozen critical plays and we made one of them.”
McCarthy was clearly most disappointed in his secondary’s failure to defend two underthrown deep balls. On the first, Tramon Williams and Morgan Burnett collided and deflected the ball into DeSean Jackson’s hands for a 55-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. On the second, Davon House and M.D. Jennings were unable to close on a pass that hung in the air as though it were a punt, before falling into Riley Cooper’s hands for a 45-yard touchdown and a 17-3 lead.
“When you look at the ball in the air, those plays are supposed to go your way,” McCarthy said.
A couple of plays went the Packers’ way. In the second quarter, replay clearly indicated a 36-yard pass from Tolzien to Jarrett Boykin should’ve been ruled incomplete – Boykin’s hand touched down out of bounds before his second foot came down in bounds – but Eagles Coach Chip Kelly didn’t challenge the call.
That play led to a third-and-three from the Eagles 5-yard line, but Tolzien’s pass for Jordy Nelson was intercepted by Brandon Boykin and returned 76 yards.
“The first one you think about is the pick in the end zone,” Tolzien said of plays he regrets. “We got an awesome look there. I should’ve thrown it back pylon. I could’ve thrown a better ball there.”
Trailing by 14 points with 10:58 to play in the game, the Packers got a reversal of a non-fumble call, following a coach’s challenge by McCarthy, even though officiating guru Mike Pereira told TV the play should stand as called. Referee Mike Carey awarded the Packers the ball at the Eagles 13-yard line, but that’s where the Packers’ luck ran out.
On fourth down, Tolzien dropped a pass deftly into Nelson’s hands in the end zone, but Nelson was unable to control the ball to the ground. McCarthy challenged the ruling but lost. The Eagles then ran 9:32 off the clock to clinch the win.
“I just found out,” Tolzien said when he met with reporters and was asked if he was aware that he had been declared the Packers’ starting quarterback for the upcoming game in New York. “You start by looking at yourself. There are a few plays I’d like to have back. I really appreciate the guys rallying around me, and my coaches.”
His head coach had no problem with the play of his quarterback. Complete game coverage