OAKLAND – With a playoff berth clinched, Packers Coach Mike McCarthy immediately turned his focus to a showdown type of game in Arizona next week.
“Now, it’s all about the Arizona Cardinals,” McCarthy said following a 30-20 win over the Raiders on Sunday that continued the Packers’ pursuit of the NFC’s No. 2 playoff spot. The win over the Raiders also kept the Packers a game ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North title race. Green Bay clinched a playoff berth earlier in the day.
“We’ve got 10 wins. That’s what we came out to do. The defense spotted us some big plays. We did some things personnel wise to get the looks we were looking for,” McCarthy added of the win.
McCarthy was strong in his responses to the media following the game. He accentuated his team’s position to pursue a bye for the first round of the playoffs, which requires a Packers win in Arizona next week.
“We’re right where I want to be. We’re right where we need to be. I’m tired of talking about all the negativity. That’s the overview of our season,” he said when asked to critique his team’s performance.
The game turned on a 19-play, 92-yard field goal drive that bridge the third and fourth quarters. It began at the Packers 5-yard line and moved steadily downfield on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ precision passing. Wide receiver Randall Cobb was employed as a running back in the drive.
“Trying to dictate what they were going to play,” McCarthy explained of the strategy. “That’s part of the scheme, the challenge. With that group, we felt like we got some better looks. Randall is a playmaker. He has to touch the football. We had some good matchups. I thought our receivers really stepped up in the second half.”
Mason Crosby’s field goal staked the Packers to a 27-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Packers defense closed out the win.
“The communication problems were horrendous,” McCarthy said, which might’ve explained his postgame mood. “We had headset problems. We had a good plan. They loaded up to take away the run and made us beat them on the perimeter.”
Defense largely scored the Packers’ first 14 points. One came on a short drive following a Micah Hyde interception return. The Packers’ second score was the result of Damarious Randall’s 43-yard touchdown return of an interception on a Derek Carr overthrow.
The Packers offense struggled through the first half, gaining only 97 yards. As the day-long rain intensified, the Packers offense steadily improved, as it did in the previous week’s win against the Cowboys, a game also played in a steady rain.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be clean. We knew it was going to be bumpy,” McCarthy said. “I’m not into style points or stats. It’s fun to score a bunch of points, but at the end of the day, everybody is struggling to get into the playoffs.
“It’s goal No. 1. Everybody sets their goal to win the world championship. This is the first step. Step No. 2 is to win the division. More important, we have to go beat Arizona,” McCarthy added.
The Packers will claim the No. 2 playoff spot with wins over the Cardinals and Vikings, and a Cardinal loss to either the Eagles tonight or to the Seahawks on the final day of the season.
With a win over the Vikings at Lambeau Field on Jan. 3, the Packers will clinch the NFC North title, but the Packers can clinch the division title next week with a win in Arizona and a Vikings loss to the Giants.
Click here for more Packers-Raiders coverage