McCarthy’s Playcalling Shines on Packers Final Super Bowl Drive All Green Bay Packers All the Time
McCarthy kept throwing, and throwing, and throwing on Sunday. His pass-happy strategy is a big reason why the Packers are Super Bowl champs.

It was no secret that the Green Bay Packers were going to have to pass and pass often if they wanted to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Conventional NFL wisdom often says that teams should build a lead through the air, then secure the win by killing the clock with the run late in the game.

Thankfully for the Packers, Mike McCarthy ignored conventional wisdom and stuck to his team’s strengths when the game was on the line and the Packers had the ball late in the fourth quarter. Instead of running the ball because “that’s what you have to do late in the game,” McCarthy kept doing what his team does best: throwing the ball. McCarthy put the game on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers through the first three-and-a-half quarters, and he didn’t change course in crunch time.

Of course it’s much easier to stick with passing when your quarterback is as good as Rodgers. Rodgers especially validated McCarthy’s late playcalling when he zipped that seam route to Jennings for 31 yards on third and 10 on the Packers’ last drive. That throw will go down as one of the best in Super Bowl history.

Plus it’s not like its imossible to run some clock while passing. Tom Crabtree made a nice catch on a 1-yard dumpoff to keep the clock moving. James Jones caught a screen that gave him a chance to make a play and score, or get tackled in bounds and keep the clock moving. In today’s NFL, a coach doesn’t have to be married to the run in order to bleed the clock.

We give McCarthy plenty of flack for his playcalling, especially when he gets too pass-happy. But the fact remains that McCarthy knows his team is best when it’s passing. That’s why he almost always goes to the air when his team is treading water.

Thankfully he stayed ture to himself and his team on Super Bowl Sunday. He resisted the temptation and ignored conventional wisdom to get conservative. McCarthy’s late playcalling is a major reason that the Lombardi Trophy is returning to Titletown.


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


7 thoughts on “McCarthy’s Playcalling Shines on Packers Final Super Bowl Drive

  1. Aside from the 3rd (AKA lost) quarter, the Packers were pretty effective on Offense. I really didn’t complain about MM’s play calling all game.

    Congrats to the Packers for a great championship season! 🙂

    1. I did think he was being too predictable with the slants during two of those drives, but that’s just nitpicking. As soon as we saw Quinn Johnson inactive, we knew what the game plan would be – Air McCarthy.

  2. I think the sheer number of dropped passes made it easier for the average layman to see how effective McCarthy’s playcalling was. You could tell the guys were open and that Rodgers was making the right plays, they just missed on the execution.

    Good job to McCarthy for having a solid gameplan and for taking the most dynamic Steelers defender out of the game.

    1. Spreading out the Steelers secondary was the #1 gameplan, as Rodgers confirmed in an interview. Neutralizes Polamalu and forces the Steelers to blitz less.

      1. Has Polamalu always lined up so far behind the line of scrimage? I know he’s got a lot of freedom to do what he does, but it seemed like he was lined up 35 yards off the line every play. I don’t care how good you are, there’s not much you can do that far off the line besides play center field on deep passes or make a TD-saving tackle if someone busts through the front seven.

  3. MM’s greatest quality this playoffs was being able to recognize what was working and what was not (or wasn’t as working as well), and sticking to it.
    Be it passing (CHI, SB and ATL), but also running with Starks against Philly.

    That’s pretty much what I asked of him against the Lions, where when we were spreading them, it was working.

    GREAT coaching during the playoffs, and it culminated with MM’s best coaching performance yet in the SB. As much credit as Rodgers deserves fro playing an essencially flawless game, MM deserves the same for creating the perfect gameplan for the Steelers, devising the perfect motivational plot with the ring sizing, and always being 2 steps ahead of Dick Lebeau (an incredibly hard feature), getting Jennings consistantly against a linebacker, and Nelson against safeties and nickel corners. I can only think of a few times where their D outcoached our O (the Pa on first and goal in the last drive).

    During the regular season, I feared that our team’s talent was being wasted by lesser coaching. Looking back at the playoffs and SB, I can say that, without McCarthy coaching, we don’t come close to winning.

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