SEATTLE—The hurt in Mike McCarthy's voice was no different than it was two years ago, when he stood at the same podium in the same room and wiped away the frustration of a replacement official's mistake. This one was much more difficult to explain.
McCarthy's Packers were an onside-kick recovery away from going to the Super Bowl. Following a 28-22, overtime loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, the Packers were left to go home.
"I thought it was an amazing game to be a part of. I'm very proud of our team, the season-long growth as a team. I was very confident we were going to walk out of here today with a victory. I felt our team was a special group. This is a hard one to swallow," McCarthy said in what was likely his next-to-last press conference of the 2014 season. His next one will be his season-ending overview.
Had it not been for splash plays the Seahawks made at critical times in the game, McCarthy and his Packers would be entertaining the media in Phoenix a week from now. Holding leads of 16-0 at halftime and 19-7 with 10:53 to play in the fourth quarter, the Packers appeared headed for the really big game. The NFC title trophy had the Packers' name on it, until the same defense the Seahawks couldn't crack all day, cracked down the middle.
- Russell Wilson found Marshawn Lynch down the right sideline for a 26-yard completion. Three plays later, Wilson scored from a yard out.
- The Seahawks recovered an onside kick that bounced out of the hands of Packers tight end Brandon Bostick.
- Lynch broke loose for a 24-yard touchdown run, and then Wilson followed that play with a bizarre pop up, two-point-conversion pass, and the Seahawks had come from 12 points down to take a 22-19 lead with 1:25 to play.
"Seattle made some of those big plays to keep the game alive. You have to give them credit," McCarthy said.
The onside kick?
"It's important for everybody to do their job. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case on that play," McCarthy said.
Nearly all of Seattle's points were scored in bizarre fashion, including a fake-field-goal play in which Seahawks punter Jon Ryan completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to reserve offensive lineman Garry Gilliam.
"It was well executed. They were having trouble generating point production. The big plays on special teams were definitely a factor," McCarthy said.
The worst was yet to come. It happened in the overtime period, when the Seahawks won the coin toss, elected to receive and completed two 35-yard passes, the second of which was caught by Jermaine Kearse for the game-winning touchdown.
Just like that, it was over for the Packers, in a game they dominated for all but the final seven minutes. When the game was on the line, the Seahawks showed their championship mettle.
"I thought Dom (Capers) called a very good game. Special teams gave up seven points. You get the football there (onside kick) and we're having a different press conference," McCarthy said. "I felt very confident that if we were given the football (in overtime), we'd go down and score."
McCarthy faced questions about his decision late in the game to turn to the run and attempt to bleed the clock.
"I don't regret anything. We were in position to win the game. That's football. We came up a little short. One team moves on. I'm very proud of the way our team played, and the way they prepared, and they fully expected to win this game today. We had our chance," McCarthy said.
That's what hurt the most. COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE
The Packers went on the road to take on the Seahawks to decide who would represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX. Photos by Jim Biever and John Harmann, Packers.com.