Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers Still Haunted by Playoff Loss: Good or Bad?

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Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy
Mike McCarthy

After flirting with a perfect regular season and entering the playoffs as the NFC’s top seed, not many expected the Packers to drop out of the playoffs in the manner that they did.

Coming into the playoff matchup with the New York Giants, it felt as if the Packers were locked in towards winning the second of back-to-back titles and it was just a matter of playing out the games.

The crashing down caused significant heartache, disappointment, and regret of a missed opportunity. For many, those feelings have not subsided yet. After reading Albert Breer’s article for NFL.com, we can add head coach Mike McCarthy to that list of people.

In speaking with Breer, McCarthy admitted he wasn’t over the playoff loss and that “it’ll always bother [him].” McCarthy continued, “That’s the thing that kicks me around at night: Did I do the right thing the Giants week? Is there something I could’ve done differently with our team? That’s what you learn from.”

While McCarthy admitted the playoff loss still bothers him, Aaron Rodgers said he was able to move past that game. Graham Harrell begs to defer.

“He starts to get worked up,” Harrell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He starts mumbling under his breath whenever he sees stuff about how close we were. At times, he says, ‘God, we played so bad.’ It just eats at him.”

From the perspective of fans, it’s definitely a good thing that McCarthy and Rodgers are still upset about the loss. This Packers team is made up of guys who have dealt with rejection, being overlooked, or whatever the case maybe.

Just look at “America’s Game: 2010 Green Bay Packers” and the stories of Aaron Rodgers being overlooked, Clay Matthews having to fight as a walk-on at USC, and McCarthy paying his dues by slowly working his way up the coaching ranks. Add in Donald Driver’s experience growing up in poverty and being a seventh round draft pick. All these individuals used the painful experiences and memories as motivation, to fuel their fires and reach the top level.

Coming off the Super Bowl win in 2010, these individuals had to find new motivations. The majority of the year, it wasn’t a problem as the Packers cruised to 15 wins, one more win than they accumulated in 2010 during the regular season and playoffs.

Whether it was complacency or something else, the Packers came out with a distinct lack of fire against the Giants. While New York played like they were fighting for their lives, the Packers were flat and sloppy.

With the sting of defeat that was felt that night in January lingering still, the Packers have an opportunity to use that loss as motivation for the upcoming season. The Packers are unarguably one of the most talented teams in the NFL and have a great shot to compete for a Super Bowl this year and further down the road. The motivation must be proving that this group of Packers ins’t just a “fart in the wind,” but one of the best teams in the history of the game.

This Packers team is too good right now to be wasting opportunities and it is refreshing to see that that they know that. As hard as the loss was to stomach, it could be the spark that ignites a fire of desperation under the Packers.



Michael is a sports writer currently attending Seattle University. You can follow Michael on Twitter .


  • pointerjeff

    Deny what you might, but the sudden accidental death of Philbin’s son did them in. When you head coach is crying at the lecturn of a press conference, attending a funeral and grieving yourself, there is no way you can properly prepare a team to go into battle. Sorry those are the facts.

    • That is right on the money pointerjeff.
      No doubt about it…. hard to believe anyone could forget/ignore that little tidbit.

      That whole episode ruined the mood of the team all week, especially once they found the drunk, stoned, punk’s lifeless body, and then had to go to the funeral the last day of the week, Friday.

      Even Rodgers, a somewhat veteran and supposedly mature guy, had never ever even been to a funeral before.

      It affected the sharpness of perparation and put the game vs life in perspective, which is a bad thing in playoff game #1.

      • that crudeness is uncalled for, dude…

  • Savage57

    The most important place that the lasting sting of those defeats will show up is in preparation.

    Considering the leadership of the team and how galling the taste remains among them, I expect that MM, AR, CWood, CMIII, GJ, DD and Pick will make sure the youngsters stay focused on the scut work and get it right and tight. TT stocked the shelves, now it’s time for these guys to set the table.

    Come game days, the intensity of that type of emotion is too easily swung. It’s in July and August that the dial needs to be cranked all the way up.

    Me thinks there might be something special cooking in GB this fall.

  • Tarynfor12

    Sitting players week 17 and then a bye week and the whole routine is now out of whack.Stir in a sudden death of a Coaches son and a recipe for disaster.

    I’m not buying the emotion part of the reason/excuse for losing…Philbin was at the game IIRC and that should enhance emotion to win not deter it.

    For me,and I think the stats agree,sitting players before the playoffs and having a bye is too long and results in losing.

    I’ll bet against any team that does such and that includes the Packers this year and if proved wrong wouldn’t cry one little bit about the money lost.

  • Big T

    funny how we rewarded the players that lost the game for us (Finley) and punished the ones that played their hearts out (Driver) and actually caught everything thrown to him………..

    • CSS

      1) The Giants were explicit with their defensive philosophy that game, ‘punish Finley.’ They had it written on their board prior to the game. The defensive game-plan revolved around limiting his opportunities. Could he have had a better game, absolutely. Did Driver get his touches in that game because he drew the most advantagous defensive match-up? Absolutely. Driver had the targets because coverage was floated elsewhere.

      Why? He was the least threatening target as perceived by the Giants.

      2) It’s no coincidence the Packers/Rodgers had one of the most prolific offensive seasons in NFL history while Finley was healthy and playing every game. Hence the contract reward for a 24 (let that sink in for a second) year old TE. And Driver was rewarded with what appears to be guaranteed money and a roster spot.

      You’ve been told this elsewhere, but choose to push an agenda instead of respond, refute or listen.

      • I wish I could like this twice…

  • Ron LC

    I love the self-critical attitude with the coach and AR. The Oline’s weakness was attacked vigorously by the Giants. That was Newhouse’s inability to handle speed rushers one-on-one. Newhouse has the off-season to correct his major deficiency and become the 5th very good Olineman.

    The defensive weakness was well documented all year. It was shown to be a fatal problem on the last NYG play of the first half. With all the new guys on D, I think we can expect a new approach and a successful new season.

    We’ll be seeing a regenerated Packer team this year. SB??? Certainly a strong possibility.

    • CSS

      That’s just it, the personalities involved are never satisfied, always restless. Feels like controlled aggression with both where emotions never rule their mental faculties but they manage to internalize it, re-focus it and thrive off it.

      Self-motivators that are self-critical even while winning. Hard-wired like champions and it rubs off on peers.

  • toolkien

    While I prefer focus to diffidence in terms of making the team as great as it can be, I hope the powers that be realize that the Packers had a perfectly capable Super Bowl team last year and it was the turnovers that ultimately did them in, and while there is some work you can do on that front, there is still some factor of luck you can’t control. I hope they don’t go into analysis paralysis or over think the thing. There is an amount of inconsistency which it is up to McCarthy to control but getting too “haunted” by it might put the team into vapor lock. Just don’t turn the ball over 4 times and the Packers win the Giant game 7 out of 10 times at least.

  • Wagszilla

    I’m going to ignore some of the disgusting comments I’ve seen and just say that the last time Aaron Rodgers lost in the playoffs, the Packers won the Super Bowl the following year.

    I believe in this team, the coaching, and more than anything – Aaron and his competitive drive.

    Go Pack. Whatever happens, I’ll be there cheering them on.

  • Oppy

    I hope this particular loss to the Giants resonates with Rodgers and MM all season long, and they treat every single game like it’s retribution.

    Remember when we lost to Atlanta?

    Remember the look on Rodgers face for 20 minutes before kickoff during the post season rematch?

    Remember how that look never went away during the game, and the top notch ass-whuppery Aaron laid upon them??

    Yeah, i’ll take more of that, thank you very much.

  • James david Marsh

    I believe that the loss was a combination of the death and the four turnovers and the fact that GB was playing the “hot team”. I do not believe that the rest of players in week 17 had anything to do with the final result.