Packers continue penalty-prone ways under McCarthy

Even for a team that’s no stranger to flying yellow flags, this

was a low point.

The Green Bay Packers were penalized an eye-popping 18 times in

Monday night’s 20-17 loss at Chicago, setting a dubious franchise

record. The penalties directly affected the game, wiping out a

potential touchdown and two possible interceptions in the second

half.

Since Mike McCarthy took over as coach in 2006, the Packers have

become one of the NFL’s most frequently penalized teams. And after

a miserable Monday night, the problem doesn’t appear to be

fixed.

”We’ll take a look at the film, but (18) penalties, that

doesn’t cut it,” McCarthy said after the game. ”You can’t play

football like that, so we need to evaluate that and apply that to

our preparation for Detroit.”

The Packers came into this season embracing Super Bowl

expectations, but showed plenty of flaws Monday night.

Their special teams units still look like liabilities; they gave

up a punt return for a touchdown by Chicago’s Devin Hester; new

punter Tim Masthay was shaky; and a field goal was blocked.

The Packers also showed for the second consecutive week that

they might not be able to run the ball without Ryan Grant, who is

out for the season. The Packers had 63 yards rushing Monday night,

getting 20 of those yards from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Brandon

Jackson, the player expected to replace Grant, had seven carries

for 12 yards.

Without all the penalties, the Packers might have been able to

overcome their other problems.

”I don’t think, overall, we are a totally undisciplined team,”

linebacker Nick Barnett said after the game. ”But we had some

undisciplined plays out there. I’m not going to say I agree with

every call out there, but bottom line is, we’ve got to clean those

things up.”

Rodgers said it was ”uncharacteristic” for the Packers.

Statistics tell a different story.

Although the Packers have had plenty of success under McCarthy,

they’ve also become more penalty-prone every year. According to

STATS, they were tied for the league’s 20th-most penalized team

during McCarthy’s first season as head coach in 2006 – then became

the fourth-most penalized team in 2007, second-most penalized in

2008 and had the most penalties in the league, 118, in 2009.

Then came Monday night:

– With the Packers leading 10-7 and facing third-and-9 at the

Bears’ 15-yard line in the third quarter, Rodgers threw an apparent

touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley. But the play was

called back on a holding penalty on right tackle Mark Tauscher. A

subsequent 37-yard field goal try was blocked by Chicago’s Julius

Peppers.

– With the Packers leading 17-14 in the fourth quarter, Barnett

intercepted a pass from Jay Cutler. But Frank Zombo was called for

roughing Cutler, allowing the Bears to keep the ball.

”You’ve got a guy beating his man on his block and getting to

the quarterback, and you get a roughing the passer call,” Charles

Woodson said. ”You can’t take that play away. As a referee, you

can’t look at that play and call that.”

A subsequent unnecessary roughness penalty on Nick Collins

extended the drive, and the Bears kicked a game-tying field

goal.

– With the game tied at 17 and the Bears driving in the final

minutes of the game, Collins intercepted a pass from Cutler. But

rookie safety Morgan Burnett was called for interference, putting

Chicago in position to eventually kick the game-winning field

goal.

”There has to be something done in this league about allowing

quarterbacks to just throw the ball up for grabs and both players

being engaged and the defensive guy getting the penalty,” Woodson

said. ”I just think it’s absolutely wrong.”

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers wasn’t complaining about

officials.

”You can’t make as many penalties on defense as we did tonight,

OK?,” Capers said. ”In a close, hard-fought game, it’s just that

simple.”