GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy would like nothing more than to get a victory at Indianapolis on Sunday and not have a single controversial, questionable call be made all afternoon.
The Green Bay Packers head coach has had it up to here with having to deal with the aftermath of debatable late-game decisions by referees – be they replacements or the regulars.
Six days after the stunning “Inaccurate Reception” call on the Seattle Seahawks’ game-winning Hail Mary touchdown, McCarthy found himself watching the Lambeau Field video boards helplessly as New Orleans Saints kickoff returner Darren Sproles clearly fumbled with about 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 28-27 victory.
On Monday, McCarthy was hoping to duck the discussion.
“I think I’d get a pass on that kind of stuff,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy challenged calls by referee Jeff Triplette’s crew twice on Sunday: On an incomplete pass to Jordy Nelson that McCarthy immediately regretted throwing the red flag on; and on a completed pass to Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham’s 8-yard reception converted a third-and-5 and kept a field-goal drive alive for the Saints, even though it sure appeared as if the replay showed the ball hitting the ground.
“(Triplette) said (Graham) never lost control of the football,” McCarthy said Monday.
Those two unsuccessful challenges left McCarthy with no recourse on Sproles’ fumble. Triplette’s crew rules Sproles was down by contact, but had McCarthy gotten his first challenges right (thereby granting him a third) or had he saved one of the challenges, he could have thrown his red flag.
On Monday, McCarthy said he actually contemplated not challenging Graham’s catch – even though he was confident it would be overturned – because he had an inkling he might need the challenge later.
“I challenged Jordy Nelson’s catch, and I regretted it,” McCarthy explained. “. It was early in the game, I saw a picture, I did it totally on my own. I saw a clean picture on the JumboTron from an angle where the ball did not hit the ground and I challenged it. I saw the second picture and I knew it wasn’t going to be overturned because when he extended the catch part of the ball hit the ground.
‘(Graham’s catch) was the first series of the second half, we had a one touchdown lead and I talked about it at halftime, how I only had one challenge left, and with their offense this thing could come down to the end of the game. …It was a good challenge. My regret was over challenging Jordy Nelson’s, because even if I had won the Jimmy Graham challenge, we would have been out of challenges.
“Obviously I thought it was the right challenge or I wouldn’t have challenged it. But to me that was a big management decision that really could have hurt us because we obviously needed it later on the Sproles fumble. (But) that’s football."
The only way the Packers would have gotten the ball was if Triplette determined that they had clear possession of the ball, and it isn’t certain whether linebacker Dezman Moses emerging from the scrum would have satisfied that requirement. McCarthy said Triplette never told him whether or not Moses’ recovery would have counted, only that the play had been whistled down by contact.
But both McCarthy and special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum were sure that Moses had what would have qualified as clear possession.
“(The officials) wanted to talk about whistles and all that other stuff, but it was about getting it right. That was an obvious fumble that was blown dead,” McCarthy said. “That happens. If I had the challenge I think the result would have been different.
“(Moses) clearly had the ball, so which is important. … It has to be clear cut that they have the ball when you give it to the official because they will not overturn it, the ball that is blown dead there. So our players did everything right."
Slocum was less circumspect.
“Well, I’m not into officiating,” Slocum said. “All I know is we knocked the ball out and got it.”
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