Monday, January 19, 2015

One Botched Play Denies the Packers a Super Bowl Berth: An End Game Analysis

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks
Seldom used TE Brandon Bostick, (No. 86)  muffs the key play of the game - recovery of an onside kick with 2:00 left.. He was only in there to block, not make the play - that was for "hands guy" Jordy Nelson!

Football humbug and pabulum for the weak-minded:

"It never comes down to just one play, it's always multiple ones that bring a loss."

"You win as a team and lose as a team"

"He did his best but if the rest of us had done our jobs his misplay wouldn't have mattered."

Save it for football know-nothings and Bozos. In the end, though the efforts of players to cover the colossal bonehead plays of certain teammates are noble they are misplaced and don't cut the mustard. So we can rightly ignore all the twaddle displayed above: the horrific 28-22  overtime loss yesterday of the Pack to the Seattle Seahawks is on one guy: Brandon Bostick.

Don't make excuses for him!

Yes, yes, I know there were multiple ways the game might not have come down to that colossal muff. We can always find a "target rich environment" for miscues and plays that could have been improved in retrospect. But none of those occurred at the most critical point in this game, e.g.

- If the Pack had gotten TDs instead of FGs on two early Seattle turnovers. (Giving another 8 pts.)

- Somehow, for some idiotic reason (maybe excess caution -which is the M.O. of losers)  Morgan Burnett - after an interception of a Wilson pass - just dives to the ground instead of going for daylight and a 'pick 6' with only green ahead. That would also have added another 7 to the Pack's tally.

- Mike McCarthy playing coy and conservative (we call it playing "not to lose")  in the Pack's penultimate  two 4th Q. possessions, ending up with two 3 and outs - instead of letting Aaron pass for first downs which might have sealed the game then and there.

In regard to the last, both wifey and I could see those two 3 and outs by the O had left the Packer D sucking fumes by having to get on the field so soon each time. It was stupid and ignorant at that point - with that display of play calling conservatism,  to stick to the run when it wasn't working. And  to blame the D for a 'collapse' when the O didn't help them. Look, the O has got to help the D - especially when the latter had been playing 'lights out' - but especially in the first half when the Pack dominated the time of possession.

Even so, even after Marshawn Lynch had gotten to the 9 with a thunderous 26 yard run after catch,  there was  2:33 left, the game was still in hand for the Pack to take. Every other play, series of plays, misplays or non-plays at that point became immaterial. It was win with a big fat 'W'  with  a  successful recovery of the ball.(Let us also bear in mind that as one approaches the end of a game the magnitude of the error increases exponentially - which is why Bostick's muff was so outrageous. Given it occurred just before the 2 minute warning, it literally paved the way for the Seattle comeback.)

Anyway,  as I told Janice at that point, before the Seahawks'  next snap:

"Doesn't matter! Let the %#*!*&  score!  Their plays will suck time off the clock down to the two minute warning. All we need to do then is recover the onside kick and retain time of possession with just one first down."

All they had to do, right? But who the hell would believe the Pack special team brain trust would put in a new -be tight end named Brandon Bostick for the most critical play of the whole game?  An onside kick, which recovery would lead either to a Packer end game possession, or Seahawks' possession that'd likely give them the go ahead score, given they had great field position.

Bostick, let's make it abundantly clear - was in there  for one assignment only - to block! It was not his job or duty to recover the *$&@!!  kick! (Even he admitted  that was his job in an interview after the game).

That recovery play was Jordy Nelson's job, and he is the official "hands player" in those situations, literal money in the bank.

But Jordy, alas, never got his big hands on it. Good ol' Bostick lost his composure at the worst time when the ball came toward him and tried to grab it himself. An unqualified guy reaching for his level of incompetence and achieving it in one fell swoop.

After the game, Bostick blabbed:

"I was supposed to block. I just ran to the ball. I thought I could get it. Obviously, I couldn't.
I felt like I had my hands on the ball. I just got hit and then I didn't have the ball."

He also moaned he was "only human" but ought to have added, "a dumbass human".

And so the Packers' dream of a 2nd Super Bowl appearance in 4 years came crashing down thanks to a relative greenhorn for onside kicks, on the field at the absolute wrong time, making the worst possible play while handing the game to the Seahawks - who could also see their TD would be easy, given the Pack D had nada left in the tank. Thanks to Brandon. If Bostick just does his damned job and lets Jordy make the play, there is NO Seattle "miracle" comeback and that is what pisses us off the most. (Wifey's theory is he was trying to be a "hero" by grabbing the onside and mucked it up, which means it wasn't a mistake but ego and arrogance at work.)

Let's not try to cover up this clown's misplay and spread the blame when the most proximate cause for the loss was THAT play, no other!  As even the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel reporter put it:

"Game over. Season over. Career over? For Bostick, in Green Bay, probably."

The Packers players deserved better than this snafu and so did their fans!

Footnote on fans' hate reactions:

As one blogger-author (Pearlman) has observed, some fan reactions were over the top including tweeting "Go die!" and other hate-filled invective to the poor slob. Pearlman called these people "lunkheads" and also added he didn't expect such social media reactions to change anytime soon. He is correct in that!  So long as pro football retains center stage in American sports culture and "losers" are denigrated and despised while the "winner take all"  meme is extolled. Change that, and you will also change the discourse and also enable fans to be a little less hostile when a miscue of such magnitude occurs with their favorite team.

Yes, I deplore the hate reactions, but Bostick must not escape blame for making what he calls a "mistake". NO,  it was not a mistake but an ego-fed effort to seize glory by being the "hero" when he lacked the skill to do so. So, we are perfectly entitled to pile on to this guy - but at the same time, leave the hate in our inner Ids.

'Nuff said!

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