GREEN BAY – On Sunday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he'd have a comment on Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis' hit on Packers receiver Davante Adams after he saw the video of it.
On Monday, he had his comment.
"Davante was in a position he shouldn't have been hit like that, and that was clear," McCarthy said during an early evening press conference.
"I like (Panthers coach) Ron Rivera and I've always respected the play style of his football team, but that hit, that was a dirty hit."
The hit, an illegal blindside block with helmet-to-helmet contact during a Panthers interception return, has landed Adams in the concussion protocol for the third time in the last two seasons.
McCarthy said there's obvious concern for Adams, but so far his response has been positive. He has returned from his two previous concussions in a week's time, and the hope is that this one is no more serious than those.
Davis, fined for an illegal hit earlier this season, was suspended two games by the league on Monday. As for any further legislative action the league should take to continue trying to eliminate such hits from the game, McCarthy didn't offer a view, only saying he believes a lot of progress has been made over the past 5-10 years.
"There's no place in this game for those type of hits, that's been made loud and clear," he said. "That hit was totally unnecessary yesterday. As far as rule changes, anything they want to add obviously would be for future discussion."
His own team's future was to be hanging in the balance just hours after leaving the podium, as Monday night's Falcons-Buccaneers game could eliminate the Packers from the postseason chase.
An Atlanta victory would end Green Bay's run of eight consecutive playoff berths. An Atlanta loss would keep faint hopes alive and could impact McCarthy's decision on who plays quarterback Saturday night against Minnesota.
"Aaron Rodgers, he's sore, and rightfully so," McCarthy said of the aftermath of Rodgers' first game in two months Sunday in Carolina. "He was hit too many times, took two big hits. We're working through that. We'll see what tomorrow brings."
Rodgers had his first three-interception game in eight years while still throwing three touchdown passes and using his legs to scramble effectively in the 31-24 defeat.
McCarthy acknowledged he would have liked "another 5-6" running plays, given the Packers' somewhat surprising success on the ground against the league's third-ranked run defense. But he didn't take any major issue with Rodgers' decisions to pass on some run-pass option calls, saying it was that's "kind of game you get into" and "should be in" with Rodgers at quarterback.
"When you look at the three interceptions, two were like long punts, and they're all throws he's made through his career," McCarthy said. "I think it's just a product of him not playing for as long as he has. He's made those throws. Those are routine throws for him. But I thought he did a lot of really, really good things."
McCarthy wasn't nearly as complimentary of his defense, which came out of the gate allowing conversions on Carolina's first four third downs. Four offside penalties on the day didn't help, and two of Cam Newton's four TD passes were to wide-open receivers.
Last week, McCarthy made a point of mentioning all the mental errors that were committed in the previous two overtime victories, and they caught up to the Packers against a legitimate NFC contender that now has 10 victories.
"If it was one variable, we would have changed it a long time ago, I can promise you that," McCarthy said. "It's a combination of things. At the end of day, we're judged on our performance.
"The breakdowns, easy touchdowns like that are unacceptable. Way too many negatives."
The final negative was a fourth turnover, a fumble that came less than 30 yards from a potential game-tying touchdown. It doomed an inspired comeback effort and put Green Bay's postseason hopes on life support.
"I'm disappointed like every man on the sideline is. It was an opportunity," McCarthy said. "We had extra energy in our locker room with Aaron playing. I wish that energy would have been consistent throughout our team the whole time. That's a disappointment.
"But at the end of the day, these guys compete. It's a privilege to coach them. They give you everything they've got.
"Frankly, the game turned out the way it did because it's football. That's why it's so hard to win in this league. It's hard to beat a nine-win team in their building in December. You have to play at a very high level, and we didn't play at a high enough level to win that game."