Cory's Corner: A Lost Gamble Was A Win

LaFleur's agressive coaching mentality showed itself again.

The percentages said that Matt LaFleur should've kicked the field goal.

However, the rookie Packers coach spat at all those numbers by rolling the dice.

The Packers beat the Panthers 24-16 on Sunday not because LaFleur opted to go for a touchdown instead of kicking the chip shot field goal.

But he may have won a lot more.

There were two seconds left in the first half. The Packers were up 14-10. First, Matt LaFleur called the team's final timeout. Then, after the Panthers saw that LaFleur was serious about going for it, they called first timeout to talk it over.

After all those stoppages, Jamaal Williams took the handoff, ran up the middle and ran into the brick wall of Panthers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy which ended the first half.

After that happened, many second guessed LaFleur's decision to go for six. Especially since the Packers were getting the second half kickoff, the 19-yard field goal was safer play.

Yes, the field goal would have been the safe play. However, does anyone remember 2014? Mike McCarthy was the epitome of the safe play and it all came to roost in NFC Championship Game. He opted to kick an 18-yard field on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Then after a Seahawks fumble on the ensuing kickoff, McCarthy chose to kick a 19-yard field goal from 1 on fourth-and-goal.

LaFleur is a breath of fresh air because he is the anti McCarthy. I'm not sayign LaFleur should all-of-a-sudden turn into the Riverboat Gambler and take ridiculous risks.

The Packers may have lost six points on that play, but LaFleur gained the trust of everyone in that locker room. They know that he has their back. They know that he believes in them. And most importantly, they know that he is going to do whatever it takes to win.

The moment a player knows and realizes that, teams can turn nearly unbeatable. LaFleur was brought here because this front office knows and understands that window for winning will be closing soon and every opportunity needs to be taken.

McCarthy got content with his success, and before long, it came back to haunt him. LaFleur doesn't want to waste opportunities. I liked going for the touchdown, I just would have called a swing pass to Aaron Jones instead.

The Packers are now 8-2 right before the bye. They didn't get there by being tentative. So, if you don't like a head coach that takes chances every now and again, you make want to look away.  

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (64)

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scoonie_penn's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:15 am

Loved the decision. Very aggressive and put the onus of the offense to make it happen. I wasn't impressed with the play call though. After the game Gerald McCoy said he saw the key and knew the play. MLF better go back and watch the tape because there was a tell in the formation or someone on the line is tipping plays.

With that said I hope MLF stays aggressive but realizes when GB is in the playoffs that every point matters. Regular season yep go for it. Playoffs, I'd take the 3.

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mnklitzke's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:29 am

Agree on the bad play call. Where are the bigs to blow a hole? Asking Bak for a reach block there?? Put Clark in the back field, Vitle at FB and Williams. Have your bigs make a hole.... Disagree with the playoffs though..

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dobber's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:52 am

Carolina has some good DTs. You have to ask why he was running at them in that case...

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jlc1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:23 am

Question - I know a game can't end on a defensive penalty but what about the first half? if so then why not throw a pass in that situation?

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:52 pm

I'm more in line with Holmgren. Gimme your best play on 3rd down and If it doesn't work, then take the 3 points.

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PackfanNY's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:45 am

I agree with your point. Full disclosure I was watching the game with my son and after initially telling him and the TV (yeah I talk to inanimate objects during Packers games) Field Goal, Field Goal. I then quickly re thought it and said “have Williams slam it in”. No sooner were the words out of my mouth but here comes the blur known as Gerald McCoy all 315 plus pounds of him laying out Jamaal. So I cannot and won’t second guess LaFleur. No problem with the gambled but we gambled wrong.

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SterlingSharpe's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:37 am

I would have kicked the FG in that situation as I figured points were at a premium & that it would be a close game right down to the wire.
But nobody's perfect & I agree it's better [usually] to error on the side of aggression than safe, which the opinionator mentioned the 2015 Nightmare in Seattle. Even with that OL & Kuhn & Lacy, they failed on 3rd & 1's all the time.

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Sol's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:44 am

Hind site is always 20/20 and full of potential backlash and critics. I for one am glad they went for it and was especially pleased about the way things were talked about on the sidelines. Although I don't know what was said the body language seemed to indicate a team working together and that will pay dividends down the road over the next few games. This team has a chance to be special and I hope they can all behave, get some needed rest and come back and finish strong.

Go Pack

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PackfanNY's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:47 am

True enough Sol. Execution of the block or lack There of was the problem.

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Bure9620's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:47 am

A screen pass to Jones. Another play I love that could catch a defense off guard close the goal line are the quick pass WR screen plays. I find Lazard is hard to tackle he can also block. Maybe a WR screen to Jones where he lined up wide with Lazard and Adam's blocking.

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PeteK's picture

November 12, 2019 at 07:35 am

Need room for screens , almost impossible from the two because the defense is condensed.

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dobber's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:53 am

Agreed.

A quick swing pass if you've got a guy who can beat the defense to the pylon.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 12, 2019 at 07:15 am

I thought GB should have kicked the field goal. Full Disclosure: I thought MM was correct to kick those field goals as well. It took an epic, one of the worst of all time worthy meltdowns to make MM's decision incorrect in hindsight.

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Guam's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:02 am

I guess I am showing my age and conservatism, but I also thought they should kick the FG. It is good to be aggressive in football, but you always take the points. I'm sure MLF wants to be an aggressive coach, but some coaching decisions need to come from the head, not the heart. A tried and true maxim of coaching has always been to take the points. A field goal and all the end-of-game drama disappears.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:02 am

Your right in that game you kick the field goal. I am very confident any reasonable statistical analysis would confirm it.

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splitpea1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:17 am

Thank you for this comment--it's nice to see somebody has a level head. You take the easy points to go up by seven at the half and work on getting more when you get the ball back to start the second half. As for the MM decision to kick the field goals, it could be argued either way, but the aforementioned series of mistakes in the final minutes of the game is what did us in.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:10 pm

As LaFleur noted, the play was not a great fit to go up against goal line defense. Take the points in the redzone. It's not like a 4th and one at the 35 yd line.

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Pack88's picture

November 12, 2019 at 07:38 am

I was in favor of the FG. It is easy to view the decision based on the ultimate result, but had GB lost this game in OT then there would have been lots of whining so for me Take the points!!

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PeteK's picture

November 12, 2019 at 07:58 am

When you get a chance to go up two TDs from the two, you take it. I was just upset at the play. We needed to be more creative on that play. This new scheme is supposed to be predicated on miss direction and play action.

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stockholder's picture

November 12, 2019 at 07:49 am

I wanted the FG. They couldn't get it done. Getting it done the first time is a must. Missing, changes the odds. They had their chance to do it right.

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RCPackerFan's picture

November 12, 2019 at 07:50 am

This was my thoughts Before any play happened.
I thought they should have kicked it and it was a mistake going for the TD. I thought they should have kicked it because 3 points in a tight game could have made the difference. They were up 14-10. If they kick the FG they are up a 17-10. They got the ball right away in the 2nd half and if they even kicked a FG they would have been up 20-10, or if they get the TD like they did they would have been up 24-10.

Now that they went for it I didn't really like the play they ran. I would have liked to have seen something different. To me it was just to easy for the defense. They had a couple of timeouts to see what was happening. I would have liked to have seen something else.

Overall I like the aggressiveness by LaFleur. I just felt like in that spot, take the points and be ahead by a TD.

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Booner's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:01 am

Loved the decision by LaFleur to go for it! Play call stunk! Lone back Williams up the gut into the heart of the Panthers D?

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stockholder's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:10 am

LaFleur was brought here because this front office knows and understands*** that window for winning will be closing soon *** and every opportunity needs to be taken. Are You saying The Packers won't win Without Rodgers? Anyone can be replaced. Favre was. I'm shocked by this statement. The front office can be replaced too. Holding people accoutable brought change. There should be NO window! Winning should be all that matters.

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Houndog's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:31 am

stockholder,
As a Packer fan living in 49er territory I hear what you're saying but have witnessed quite the opposite. I am NOT a 49ers fan!
Fans forget, or completely fail to understand, how LUCKY we are to have two HOF quarterbacks (3 for me) in a lifetime, much less back-to-back. Since Steve Young left the Niners they have danced with 'Good Enough' at the position and the jury's still out on Garopolo. Early draft picks have been a the result of their poor play and now their present day success.
So Yes, the window is closing, and it could possibly take a generation to find another Favre or Rodgers.
The time to win is Now!

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PeteK's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:02 am

ABSOLUTLY !!!! (Garcia wasn't bad)

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blacke00's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:12 am

Goal line plays need to be set up. I think you need to have a certain "look" that purposely confuse the defense. That play was not one of them.

I didn't like the call or the play. You take points when you can. You were getting the play at half time and extend the lead much earlier in the game and ultimately less of a "stressor" at the end of the game.

Just my opinion.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

You are of sound mind.

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murf7777's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:14 am

MLF is the best acquisition for the Packers. Like his aggressive play calling or not he has shown to be excellent in all aspects of coaching a team. Two times they lost they have come back with key wins against good NFC opponents. I’ve been very impressed with his time management skills. Also, when to challenge has been quick and mostly right on. Early in the year he challenged PI then realized quickly it wasn’t worth it. I love that he seems to be thinking ahead of the curve vs reacting to what others do. Still to early in his career to anoint him but the arrow is pointing straight up.

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Since'61's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:25 am

IMO, MLF should have taken the points. Why? first to go up by 7 at the half and secondly in this era of the NFL you never know how many points you are going to need in a game. As for going for it, I expected a different play call. Something with motion or a fake of a toss to Jones right after the snap as he crossed the formation to get the defense moving in the opposite direction of the play. The quick hitter is OK but you need to get up to the line and snap it quickly before the defense is settled. 86 yard drives should not be wasted. MLF is smart, he will learn from this experience.

As for MM kicking the 2 FGs against Seattle in 2014, that was a very different situation. First the Packers were playing on the road against the reigning SB champs. Seattle had the best defense in the league at that point. Lacy failed on every handoff to get in. To me that was the beginning of the end of Lacy's career in GB. After that game he never ran the same as he had in his 1st 2 seasons and he eventually ate his way out of the league. The other point is that Rodgers was playing on one leg and he couldn't really roll out or throw on the run. I have and will always contend that if Rodgers was 100% for that game the Packers would have won the game as Rodgers would have run for a few 1st downs which would have extended a few drives and denied Seattle the time to come back at the end. We'll never know but Rodgers had chances to run for 1st downs if both his legs were healthy.

MM decided to take the points and play with a lead on the road. While not a popular choice it did stabilize the game and took the crowd out of the game until midway through the 3rd quarter when the Seattle comeback began. Then a season's worth of mistakes were made over the final 3+ minutes to cost the Packers a trip to the SB.

In the 1960 NFL championship game against the Eagles, Lombardi's first as Packer HC, he went for it on 4th down twice during the first half deep in Eagles territory. Both 4th down attempts failed and the Packers came away with 0 points on those 2 drives. The Packers eventually lost the game (Lombardi's only post-season loss) 17 - 13. Had the Packers kicked 2 FGs those 6 points would have been the difference in the game. Lombardi never left points on the field again and the Packers went 9-0 in their remaining post-season games over the following 7 seasons including 3 NFL titles in a row and the first 2 SB victories. Lesson learned. Thanks, Since '61

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splitpea1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:40 am

There couldn't have been a better response. TAKE THE POINTS!

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Packer_Fan's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:25 am

I liked the decision just as Corey described. But there is always a good chance that a run like that gets stuffed. Just like the Pack did at the end of the game. I would have preferred a misdirection play, a short pass or a bootleg by Rodgers.

As I was listening to the game, I told my wife that if the Packers scored a touchdown here and then again at the start of the second half, the score would have been 28 - 10. And it would have been just about out of range for Carolina to come back. Not so with 24-10.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:28 am

As a HC in the stands, I would have kicked the FG and gone into the locker room with momentum knowing you get the ball to start the 2nd half.

Game conditions had greatly changed by that point with the cold, wind and snow. The field was getting slick. I know what statement ML was trying to make....but it sometimes the safe play in the close game in worsening field conditions is the right play.

And even in going for it, ML called a safe play....run heavy formation with the sure handed Williams, not AJ, on the field that telegraphed their intentions to Carolina. Bakhtiari whiffed on his attempted block on McCoy, because McCoy quickly read the play and exploded into the backfield right at the snap.

And recall ML and the Pack got some charity from the refs to start the drive when they called McCoy for a questionable roughing Rodgers in the end zone that kept the drive alive.. ML should have taken the gift FG and momentum into halftime.

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zoellner25's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:46 am

I love what LaFleur is doing as HC. I loved his gutsy decision to go for it and don't hate the play call. Bahktiari whiffed his block so bad, even if McCoy knew what was coming, I think if 69 makes that block, they score. But they should've had 33 and 17 on the field so the threat of a pass or trick play was there.

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deerskinlake's picture

November 12, 2019 at 08:58 am

Lafleur I believe, is still struggling With playcalling and I feel is still influenced too much by but what Rogers wants to do. Way too many instances where they just needed a few yards for a first down to keep drive's going and then they pass deep into coverage as if they have a 21 point lead and end up punting time after time ! Does not make any sense. They still do not know, in my opinion, what they have with those two running back's and that is the strength of the offense not the passing game.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:52 am

Don't know what they have in their rbs. So that's why the rbs are having career years and Aaron Jones leads the NFL with 14 TDs right? The strength of the GB offense is it's balance.

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Lphill's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:15 am

I think the Packers went for it because they were moving the ball up and down the field so more points were gonna come as the game went on, if it were a playoff game I think they take the 3 points, good call just bad play call, on the other side look at the bad call Rivera made early in the game for going for 2 points , that was more questionable than Lafleur.

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murf7777's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:34 am

A lot of you don’t like the play call but what’s wrong with the fastest way to the goal line. Execution was the problem. If they would’ve done a Wide out play or mis direction play that takes more time in the backfield and it wasn’t made the negative comments would’ve been greater. I would’ve taken the 3 but don’t mind his aggressive style and like the play call. We were getting yards up the middle all game long why stop when u only need one yard? I’m not an expert in play calling but agree with Vic who states it’s mostly execution not plays.

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Renllaw's picture

November 12, 2019 at 01:23 pm

I think the blocking scheme more so than the run call was suspect. I dont want a tackle having to hit a reach block on the D tackle you are running at. But even if Dbak gets there, Sternberger was beat on the play also. just bad execution.

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albert999's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:39 am

Take the points with bad weather always!
Really bad play call...play action fake to Williams hit Jimmy Graham on an outward slant in end zone he’s big and hard to defend there and was having a good game....or Lazard

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Hematite's picture

November 12, 2019 at 09:40 am

In a close game against a quality opponent the prudent thing to do is take the points.
That poor decision worked out this time but it could have easily gone the other way.
Hopefully that was a learning experience for the kid coach.

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dobber's picture

November 12, 2019 at 10:00 am

PackerFan said it above: Packers had a lead, they were going to get the ball first in the second half---this was a move to try to take the game by the throat. Score that TD and get one to start the half (which they did) and now you've put the game squarely in Kyle Allen's hands in the face of a pass rush that was getting pressure. I love that aggressiveness.

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Packerpasty's picture

November 12, 2019 at 10:14 am

loved going for it, until it flopped then I wish they would have taken three...a better play perhaps...the way the weather was turning a TD would just about have put the game away...but it failed...about the McCarthy years...let it go, he did a lot of good here early, then things went south...Jets should have given him a chance instead of Gase...New Packer regime, time to return to greatness...im saying one more year till a true Super Bowl contender, although watching teams fall this week, its "on any given day"...

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Razer's picture

November 12, 2019 at 10:27 am

Getting stuffed 3 yards behind the LOS tells you that you are not good enough to run that play. Either run something that you are really good at or take the points.

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Tarynfor12's picture

November 12, 2019 at 10:35 am

You take the points,you take the points. Praising MLF for going for it up 14-10 vs a team that can score is ludicrous. Nearly as ludicrous as Rivera going for two where a failed attempt now makes it mandatory to go for two again to gain the tie you would have had if you kicked the extra point on your next score.

I don't care if it's analytics or in the name of team building...you take the points in close games period. Let's not start justifying obvious bad decisions to maintain or start a mantra of a HC.

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splitpea1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:33 am

Great post; common sense seems to be missing from this article. Why forgo easy points when you're already ahead and about to close the half and get the ball to start the second half? Also, the comparison to the NFC championship game is not suitable because, as some have already pointed out, there were a wholly different set of circumstances involved.

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Adorabelle's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:49 am

I agree. There are lots of ways to show aggressiveness in playcalling and temperament. But you can be aggressive and still be smart as well. Smart was kicking the field goal there and getting the ball back to start the third quarter

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albert999's picture

November 12, 2019 at 01:19 pm

Different play call would have also been taking the points and this article and comments wouldn’t exist

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Gort's picture

November 12, 2019 at 10:49 am

IMHO - The best option would have been to reverse the decision making:
Do not call the TO (unless it was necessary to stop,the clock) and just go to the LOS and run the play. That eliminates the opportunity for the D to make adjustments, unless they call their TO.
Its all about the coaching / play calling chess game.
Too bad i am not so good at chess.

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cheesehead1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

Personally, I wanted to kick the FG, but hindsight is 20/20. We hung on for a big win. Rest up and come prepared for SF.

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Lare's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:20 am

You kick the field goal.

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Minniman's picture

November 12, 2019 at 11:42 am

While I admire the angle about locker-room faith, some objectivity may help guide the decision.

In this circumstance (as opposed to the NFCCG) the weather was increasingly deteriorating and it was the last play of the half and the Packers were up marginally (and the Packers were getting the ball back in the next half).

In the NFCCG the weather was stable and the failed attempt would have pinned the opponent on their 1 yard line (and GB are already up a couple of scores).

I would argue that the game this week was the one to take the points and the NFCCG was a split decision (perhaps erring on the side of still taking the points).

..... As Taryn said above, remove a single bone headed play and we aren't having this discussion.......... actually from memory, also throw in the kicker throwing a TD play to that mix as well

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Rebecca's picture

November 12, 2019 at 12:31 pm

I wanted them to kick. That run up the middle ... whatever! But I have to give you credit, Cory, for asserting that the td attempt was a good call in terms of team cohesion and trust. Good going!

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wildbill's picture

November 12, 2019 at 12:38 pm

I wanted the FG, but you have Aaron Fricking Rodgers and you don’t put the ball in his hand?!! Hindsight is 20-20 but we have an all time great at QB and he wasn’t utilized in that occasion? Just saying...

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albert999's picture

November 12, 2019 at 01:21 pm

Different play call would have also been taking the points and this article and comments wouldn’t exist

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albert999's picture

November 12, 2019 at 01:24 pm

A lot of slow/miscommunication going in and out of the game with players and coaches
Have to clean that up
No excuse for making that play call especially after taking a timeout to figure it out
Rookie coach move but sounds like he’s learned from it and thank god not at the expense of a loss

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marpag1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 02:50 pm

LOL. Having your O-line look like donkeys, and getting your RB's face caved in, three yards behind the line of scrimmage, and all this in embarrassing and humiliating fashion ... is never "a win."

You don't gain confidence or develop a killer instinct by getting your ass kicked.

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4thand1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 02:59 pm

I was in the kick the FG crowd. The 2 seconds is what did it for me and 4th down. Up by 7 and getting the ball to start the 2nd half. Also the weather conditions dictated get all the points you can. I suggested a jumbo package in the backfield before too. I see some other posters brought it up.

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jlc1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 03:02 pm

Posed a question earlier about whether the half can end on a defensive penalty. The internet tells me it cannot. So given how much grabbing Carolina was doing in the end zone up to this point it seems a pass would be the better call. Fail and you might get an extra shot, or two, at the score.

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pacman's picture

November 12, 2019 at 03:58 pm

Going up 7 and getting ball back makes it a FG call. I just don't think our line has proven itself that much yet.
But if you're going for it, why not load up with Vitale in front. Though McCoy got through so fast, it probably would not have made a difference. Bakhtiari must have still been hung over from last week.

I'm wondering if MLF thought that he would really need to points the way they were moving the ball.

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Michael Hughes's picture

November 12, 2019 at 05:18 pm

All these people saying you take the points because it's a tight game and you need all the points you can get, well in a tight game where you need all the points you can get then 7 points are far more valuable than 3. Over twice as valuable.

It's simple... If you have a 50/50 or better chance then going for the TD is the right thing to do regardless of the result of the play. Whether it's a tight game or a playoff is irrelevant.

Same goes for going for 2. If you bat at over 50 percent on them you should always go for 2 until the 4th quarter at which case it depends on the score and how many points you need.

As for the play, again lots of hindsight in play. It didn't look great but maybe MLF thought they were expecting something different. Maybe if we ran it 10 times, we would score 7 times... impossible to tell.

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sam1's picture

November 12, 2019 at 05:57 pm

Not kicking the FG seems to show to a degree the newness of the coach and yet this early is still in a bit over his head! Yup will get thumbs down only because of being honest to myself here and what I believe is the fact!

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Lphill's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:42 pm

Maybe Sam but I think if it was a playoff game he kicks it.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

November 12, 2019 at 06:58 pm

There were bad calls against the Packers.
1. Supposedly, a push off by Lazard was ridiculous.

2. There should have been an intentional grounding on that last Carolina drive. Not a player insight for a minimum of 15 yards.

3. The pass to Adam's in the endzone should have been a penalty against Carolina!!! And, so with the Bulaga penalty they should have been offsetting and a replay of down, so Carolina should stop complaining about that roughing the passer tackle on Rodger's in the endzone.

4. The pass to Lazard probably was a catch that was called incomplete , but it was close.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

November 13, 2019 at 04:15 pm

Do not squander any chances of putting points on the board against the 49er's!! Take every opportunity that presents itself to score. Don't leave points on the field. I know there was no guarantee the field goal would have been made but the odds were much better at getting 3 points than 6. And going up by 7 is better than walking away with a 4 point lead. A better game plan is needed against the 49er's in week 12. This is a good opportunity to take the #1 seed in the NFC. The Packers must seize every opportunity to put points on the board against the 49er's. It would be sweet to defeat the 49er's on their own turf and in front of a nationally televised contest. But a better game plan must be in place for that to happen. Take what the defense offers, keep the sticks moving, convert on 3rd downs, no critical penalties, and no missed tackles. It will be a hard fought battle but one the Packers can win if they play smart, error free, football. Go! Pack! Go!

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