|Grren Bay coach Mike McCarthy said that he's moved on mentally to the Packers' next foe, the New Orleans Saints, and instructed his players to "stay professional during tough times." (US Presswire)|
Packers coach Mike McCarthy met with the media Tuesday afternoon and, unsurprisingly, the main topic of discussion was the controversial call on the final play of the Packers' 14-12 loss Monday night to the Seahawks.
McCarthy said “it's been a challenging day, a frustrating day for everybody.”
The team arrived back in Green Bay after a long flight from Seattle about 5:00 a.m. to the scene of fans picketing in front of Lambeau Field. McCarthy said it was nice to “see their passion with what we're fighting through.”
He said that every season brings challenges and this was another one to overcome. He said that the officiating by the replacement referees was a topic he had addressed before the game, and he felt comfortable the Packers could “play above any challenge,” including crowd noise and officiating.
McCarthy said he hadn't seen the tweets some of the Packers players sent after the game, many of which were strongly worded diatribes against the NFL, the refs and the Seahawks. He said the adversity the team was going through represented an opportunity for players and coaches to show the integrity of the Green Bay Packers, starting with their game Sunday against the Saints.
“Our players are passionate, understandably so,” McCarthy said. “But it's time to start channeling that energy toward New Orleans. ... It's an educational opportunity for us as a staff to make sure we're on the same page as far as teaching, making sure our players understand. It's a different year, there's no question about it.
“We need to stay focused,” he said. “We're not going to get any help; it's a play we're going to see on TV, I'm not going to act like it isn't there. The fact of the matter is we're about New Orleans. We're about staying in tune with being professional during tough times. I look at this as an opportunity to put another feather in our cap.
“Seriously, I'm focused on New Orleans,” he said. “This is a different situation than we've been in as a team and it's a great opportunity to show our character.”
When asked if the controversy could spur the NFL and the locked-out officials to come to an agreement, McCarthy said: “That's a good question but not a question I can answer. I have no understanding; I don't spend any time or energy on it. I know [Packers president and CEO] Mark Murphy was in contact with the league office and hopefully something will get done."
McCarthy also said he hadn't been given an explanation or apology from the league about the play and he didn't think he was owed one.
“This is the National Football League, I don't think you're owed anything,” he said.
And because he'd been in meetings all day, McCarthy hadn't had an opportunity to read the official statement the league released Tuesday afternoon that vaguely affirmed the decision by the officials, as well as the result of the game. But, he said, “based on what I've been told about [the statement], I don't think I'd agree with it.”
McCarthy said he first saw the play in detail on the plane ride home. “Everybody felt it was clearly an interception,” he said. “I agreed with the fact that it was clearly an interception.”
After the play was ruled a touchdown, McCarthy and the Packers ran off the field and into the tunnel. But, since the game couldn't end until an extra point was attempted, they had to come back out and field 11 players on defense. McCarthy said he knew the rule, but the postgame pandemonium and uncertainty complicated the situation.
“The play occurred and it was just total chaos,” he said. “People all over the field. No communication at all from the officials. We were trying to get our players off the field. Once [the head referee] made the announcement, we just left the field. There was zero communication.”
McCarthy was asked if S M.D. Jennings, the defender who appeared to come down with the ball in the end zone, should have batted it away instead of going for the interception.
“It's really based on the instinct of the player and the position of the ball,” he said. “There's no absolute. I thought M.D. Jennings was in position. He high-pointed the ball and, once again, in my opinion, he intercepted the ball.”
McCarthy finished up by saying, “It's not where we wanted to be when we got on the plane. But we've got an opportunity to be 2-2 [next week] and we're focused on it. I'm going to continue to avoid your angles to questions and stay focused on New Orleans.”
The Packers had no injuries to report and will release their first injury report Wednesday.