Rick Osentoski / Associated press
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur defended his decision to ask his team to attempt a field goal rather than attempt a touchdown and two-point conversion that would have tied the game if successful.
The Packers followed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-23, with 2:05 to go. On the 4th base on the Tampa Bay 8-yard line, LaFleur sent in Mason Crosby, who had his second of two field goal attempts to make it 31-26.
The Packers’ defense failed to retrieve the ball, paving the way for Tom Brady and the Bucs to advance to the Super Bowl.
LaFleur explained the decision after the match, telling reporters (h / t ESPN’s Rob Demovsky) that he “felt it was the right decision”:
“Yeah, every time that doesn’t work you always regret it, right? It was just the circumstances of having three shots and coming away with no yards and knowing that not only do you need the touchdown, but you need the touchdown. from 2 points [conversion]. From what I could see, we basically had four times out with the two minute warning.
“We knew we had to stop, and I thought we were going to stop there at the end, but we were called to [defensive pass interference] and it didn’t work. I think every time something doesn’t work do you regret it? Sure, but we’re always going to be guided by the process here, and the way our defense was fighting, the way our defense was playing, it felt like it was the right decision to make. It just didn’t work. “
Before the kick, Aaron Rodgers had thrown three incompletions to cap a nine-game, 58-yard practice that only ate 2:37 on the clock.
The defense moved Tampa Bay to 3rd and 4th on the Buccaneers 37-yard line, but Packers cornerback Kevin King was called out for interference with the pass resulting in a 15-yard penalty and a first try. In the next game, which came from the Packers 48-yard line, Green Bay took a five-yard penalty for having too many players on the field.
The decision to kick drew questions from many viewers, including those betting on a Packers team listed as a 3.5-point favorite:
Rodgers, who threw for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception and was sacked five times in the loss, said he had nothing to do with the decision to kick:
“I haven’t had a decision on that one. … I understand the thinking, above two minutes with all of our downtime,” Rodgers said. “But it wasn’t my decision.”
The Buccaneers await the winner of the AFC Championship between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs.