The Green Bay Packers suffered their first loss of the 2011-12 NFL season this past Sunday in a showing versus the hapless Kansas City Chiefs. Just like that, with one loss to one awful team, the defending champs kissed away their shot at history and may have started down the potentially dangerous road of losing momentum heading into the home stretch of the season.
The saddest part about what transpired on Sunday is that, despite the fact that the Packers played horrendously throughout the game, they likely still could have won it if not for one huge lapse in judgment by head coach Mike McCarthy.
Holding a slim two-point lead over Green Bay with over 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, freshly-minted Kansas City quarterback Kyle Orton knew he had to get a score. Snapping the ball on second and inches, he scanned the field and found tight end Leonard Pope heading towards the end zone. With laser-like precision, Orton hit Pope near the 10-yard line and watched as he stretched forward, attempting to break the plane. Instead, though, he inadvertently fumbled the ball away.
The immediate question on everyone’s minds was: did the ball go out of bounds into the end zone or did Pope step out early? Predictably, the on-the-field ruling was that he stepped out at the two-yard line. Upon review, though, it was made abundantly clear that Pope did not step out of bounds when the ball fell out of his hands. Thus, the correct ruling would have been that the ball was fumbled into the end zone and should have resulted in a touchback.
McCarthy clearly looked like he considered throwing the challenge flag, but then decided against it.
With that much time on the clock and trailing by a very manageable margin, there is no reason to think that quarterback Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t have done the same exact thing he had done one week earlier versus the New York Giants – led the team to victory.
Judge the situation for yourselves in the video below (Fast-forward to the 1:05).