Photo credit: Jeff Chiu/AP
The Packers lost the NFC Championship Game to the Seattle Seahawks in a total team failure that is still leaving fans lost for words.
I’m not going to rehash every step that went wrong in the dramatic loss. In fact, there were many things that all had to go wrong in a short amount of time for the Packers to lose, and they somehow all miraculously went wrong.
I’ve read many of the “anatomy of a meltdown” articles, and I’m sure you have too. There’s no need to agonize over every step. They just bring up emotions and frustrate us.
However, I would me remiss if I didn’t offer up a film session for this week. By now, we all have the players and coaches we want to blame for the loss. Some of the blame is justified, while some of it is not.
This film session will focus on the final play of the game in overtime, which sealed the win for Seattle and the loss for the Packers. It was the death knell.
If you ask me, this single play was as big of a breakdown as the others we’ve discussed, and just as severe as the botched onside kick. Maybe it’s even worse.
Let’s take a look at this meltdown, and you’ll see why it was egregious. I’m surprise it’s not being talked about more because it was severe.
The final play of the game was 1st and 10 from the plus 35 yard line on the opening possession of overtime. The Seahawks were in field goal range, which would not have automatically ended the game. At this point, it was essential to keep the ball in front of the defenders and keep the Seahawks out of the end zone, which would have ended the game.
Pressure had been working all game, so Capers dialed up a another blitz. Russell Wilson completed a touchdown to receiver Jermaine Kearse in the end zone to end the game.
Take a look at the GIF below, and we’ll look at how things went horribly wrong.
In the play above, the Packers sent five rushers, which means they are playing man-to-man coverage with no safety help. The Seahawks countered the blitz by keeping in the running back and a tight end in max protect. It’s now seven blockers on five rushers. Only three receivers are out in patterns.
The blitz got picked up effectively, giving Russel Wilson plenty of time to find the open receiver.
However that play, and the game, were not lost on the blitz pickup. It was lost on the cornerback technique of Tramon Williams.
He was responsible for Kearse in man-to-man coverage with no safety help. Therefore, he had to redirect Kearse to the outside and not give an inside release. Since there was no safety, the only help Williams had was the sideline, so he had to do everything in his power to not give an inside release.
In the picture below, you’ll see that Williams gave Kearse an inside release. At less than a second after the snap of the ball, Kearse was already inside. That was the moment the game was lost.
That’s it. The play wasn’t lost on the blitz pickup. It was lost on Williams’ total lack of getting his hands on the receiver and forcing him to the outside. I don’t know if he saw something on film or got baited, but that was horrible technique and sealed the loss. It’s almost as if he gave Kearse the inside.
Coaches teach outside release when there’s no safety at the pee-wee level. I have no idea what Williams was thinking at that moment. It’s inexcusable.
I know you all want to blame a player, a set of players, and/or coaches for the loss, but this simple breakdown was more severe than the ones being most commonly discussed in the sports circles. This was much worse than the onside kick.
On to next year.
I believe the GIFs embedded above to be fair use under the premise of being short clips of the original broadcast that are transformative for news reporting, commentary, critique, illustration, and teaching purposes.——————