GREEN BAY, Wis. — Less than 24 hours had passed since the Packers’ controversial loss in Seattle to the Seahawks, but Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy already was attempting to move on from it.
Instead of dwelling on the game-deciding mistake by the NFL’s replacement officials that cost Green Bay a win, McCarthy met with the media Tuesday with his sights set on the Packers’ Sunday battle with the desperate 0-3 New Orleans Saints.
“Our players are passionate, they’re emotional right now, understandably so, but it’s time we start channeling our energy towards New Orleans,” McCarthy said.
“We’ve been in staff meetings all day today (Tuesday) as a coaching staff in our preparation, and we’ll bring the players in tomorrow (Wednesday) for strength and conditioning in the morning.”
There is no denying the outrage that the last-second interception touchdown has created, with Packers players bashing the NFL through expletive-laden tweets and fans threatening to boycott the league until the locked-out regular referees are brought back.
Fans in Green Bay even stood outside of Lambeau Field upon the team’s arrival home from Seattle at 5 a.m. with picket signs. Friends, family and colleagues of McCarthy also voiced their displeasure to him about what had happened on the already infamous call.
“I received more text messages and emails than I did after the Super Bowl (victory in Feb. 2011),” McCarthy said. “I can tell the impact this made.”
But, just like he did in his postgame press conference Monday night, McCarthy stayed composed about the situation.
“I’ve been given no explanation,” McCarthy said when asked about the apparent disagreement between the two officials closest to the end zone on the final play.
“I’ve been in game-planning meetings all day. (Team president) Mark Murphy has been in contact with the league office throughout the day.”
Tuesday morning, the NFL released a statement that supported the outcome of the replay review of a touchdown, claiming that the battle for the ball between Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate and Packers safety M.D. Jennings qualified under the league’s simultaneous catch rule.
“I didn’t have an opportunity to read it, frankly,” McCarthy said. “But based on what I’ve been told about it, I’m sure I’m not in agreement with it.”
McCarthy, while quoting legendary former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, said the Packers aren’t “owed” an apology by the NFL.
“We need to stay focused on ourselves, the things we can do better,” McCarthy added. “Our players, I feel for them. And it’s time for us to move on.”
McCarthy, like nearly everyone who saw the play — perhaps with the exception of certain players on the Seahawks — did not agree with the call made by the replacement referees.
“I thought it was clearly an interception,” McCarthy said. “We need to stay focused. We’re not going to get any help. I know this is going to be a story that everybody wants to continue to talk about. And frankly, I’m not going to act like it’s not there. This is a play that will … I’m sure we’ll see on TV as we move on in our lives. That’s the facts of our business.”
“The fact of the matter is, we’re about New Orleans. We’re in tune with staying true to the integrity of the Green Bay Packers, how we conduct ourselves, being professional during a tough time, during a challenge. (This is) a different challenge, but I’m excited about overcoming it. I look at this as an opportunity to put another feather in our cap.”
McCarthy was asked whether he believes this call will be the play that forces the NFL to bring back the regular referees.
“That’s really a question I can’t answer,” he said. “I have no understanding. Really, I don’t spend any time or energy on it. I had a chance to talk to Mark Murphy before I came down here. That’s a conversation that’s frankly between him, I and the football team. I know he was in contact with the league office and hopefully something will get done.
“Frankly, I’m focused on New Orleans. This is a different situation than we’ve been in as a team, but this is a great opportunity to show our character and show our mettle. We’re looking forward to getting out there Sunday.”
With McCarthy’s mind clearly on the Saints, the 1-2 Packers have a lot of work to do to avoid falling two games below .500. After leading the NFL in scoring last season, Green Bay is 26th in the league in points and has scored only four offensive touchdowns in three games.
The passing attack, led by MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, is ranked 20th in the NFL, and the rushing offense — with free-agent acquisition Cedric Benson — is 28th.
“The Seattle game was different than the first two, as far as our offense and what they were challenged with,” McCarthy said. “The first two games, I’d say they challenged us to run the ball. Last night (Mponday), we were challenged to throw the ball. We didn’t handle that very well in the first half. We adjusted course and I was pleased with the way we played offensively in the second half.
“The fact of the matter is we’ve got an opportunity to get to 2-2 (and) we’re focused on it. We’ve got a very good New Orleans football team coming in here with a dynamic quarterback and a number of good players.
“I’m going to continue to avoid your angles and questions and stay focused on New Orleans.”