You don’t have to agree with it — and you probably won’t — but Mike McCarthy dove deeper into his explanation for the 57-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter of Sunday night’s loss at Pittsburgh.
The Green Bay Packers’ coach called the right decision at the time and hindsight did nothing to change his viewpoint.
“I don’t really understand the criticism of it,” McCarthy said a day later.
McCarthy was aware of the fact that Chris Boswell’s game-winning 53-yard field goal tied for the longest kick ever made at Heinz Field, but the Packers have their own formula for determining the kick-or-punt line.
“Our process is the same each and every game,” McCarthy said. “We have a structured pregame routine. There’s information that’s gathered. We have a challenge here in our own stadium.
“If I’m guilty of anything, I’ve got great confidence in Mason Crosby. But no, I don’t second-guess. We had a chance to go up two scores.”
The Packers had a 21-14 lead at the time when they took over at the Steelers’ 45-yard line following Blake Martinez’s interception. After three runs by Jamaal Williams put the Packers into field goal range at the 31-yard line, Brett Hundley was sacked on first down, threw incomplete on second down and was sacked again on third down, pushing the ball back to the 39-yard line, where McCarthy sent in the field goal unit.
“The first-, second- and third-down things leading up to the field goal I’m more upset about than anything,” McCarthy said. “What went on in those, particularly the two [sack] plays, that’s where my focus is because that’s correctable. But if I was in that spot again, based on all the information going into that decision, it’s the right call. We’re playing against — we’re on the road, we’re playing against — I mean, the big three of that offense [Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell]. Let’s be honest, that’s as good a trio of players as we’ve played against all year. We need the points.”
When asked whether the 57-yarder was within the range Crosby was comfortable with in pregame warmups, special-teams coordinator Ron Zook said: “Right about there.”
“One thing about Mason now [he would say], ‘Put the ball down and let’s kick it,’” Zook added. “If you talk to Mason, he’s got to hit that. You get into a game, where we are in the season, I think if Mason had to do it over again, he’d hit it. The snap was a little high, but, still, Justin [Vogel] got it down there. Shoot, you’ve got to have points and he’s got to hit it.”
Crosby missed badly to the left, giving the Steelers the ball at their own 47-yard line. Had the Packers punted, they had the chance to pin the Steelers deep in their own territory. With favorable field position, the Steelers needed only six plays to go the 53 yards to tie the game on the first of two touchdown catches by Brown.
“I’m trying to gain momentum,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think you can think like that, you know? … You have to decide how you’re going to play the game, and the reality of it is that gets you started. But there’s things that go on during the course of the game, there’s constant communication going on there based on where we were playing, how we were playing and what was going on in all three phases. You have to go for the points there if you have the faith in your kicker based on the kicks he hit in pregame and everything leading up to that. Really, if we were at fault, it was the two negative plays on first and third down.”