Notebook: Pressure Not The Problem

With five straight losses, there’s certainly been pressure building for the Green Bay Packers to break their losing skid. But Head Coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t feel that pressure is getting to his team in the fourth quarter of all of these close games. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 23


Bears K Robbie Gould hits the game-winning FG in overtime on Monday night.

With five straight losses, there's certainly been pressure building for the Green Bay Packers to break their losing skid.

But Head Coach Mike McCarthy doesn't feel that pressure is getting to his team in the fourth quarter of all of these close games.

The Packers have lost seven games this season by four points or less, including four in a row during this losing streak and now two in overtime since the bye week. But in analyzing how the close games continue to slip away, McCarthy doesn't feel it can be chalked up to every fourth quarter being a pressure-packed choke job.

If so, from Monday night's game you'd have to ignore Will Blackmon's good kick return and a clutch third-down throw from Aaron Rodgers to James Jones that put the offense in position for the go-ahead field goal, or Nick Collins killing a potential Chicago scoring drive with a fourth-quarter interception, or the defense coming less than a couple of inches from stopping Chicago running back Matt Forte on fourth-and-short.

There just haven't been enough of those plays with the games on the line that have gone Green Bay's way. But McCarthy doesn't see a bunch of players too uptight or nervous to perform in tight games.

"I do not see pressure as a problem for our football team in the fourth quarter," he said. "You look at the number of things that have gone right and the things that have not gone right. I wouldn't say it's individuals out there pressing or doing things outside of the scheme or doing things that are totally different than the way we operate.

"We've had some execution issues in some spots, and we've had some breaks go the other way. We've had opportunities to win games and we haven't converted them."

McCarthy also emphasized that every segment of the team has had its opportunities to turn the tide in a close game, but the plays to get the team "over the hump" simply haven't been made.

"I don't think there's just one element of negativity that we can just say, OK, let's eliminate that and we'll be fine," he said. "I don't think it works that way.

"It's not just the defense is not doing this or the offense is not doing that. It's a team game, and we've had a number of opportunities throughout the game."

Communication breakdown

On the third-quarter punt that bounced off Jarrett Bush's leg, giving the Bears a key scoring chance, McCarthy said Blackmon was doing what he was supposed to do on the play by waving his arms and yelling to Bush to steer clear of the ball.

Obviously neither the verbal nor non-verbal communication got through, though, because Bush never reacted. Chicago's recovery set up a touchdown that cut Green Bay's lead to 14-10, a turning point in the game in McCarthy's eyes.

"Take the first series in the second half," he said. "We come out of the locker room, we feel like we're in control of the football game, our defense goes out and goes three-and-out. They're not playing very well if you want to look at from their end. The momentum is clearly on our sideline. Our sideline has a ton of energy, and we give them a big shot in the arm with the punt."

Too low

Having only watched some short segments of the special teams film on the plane ride back, McCarthy reiterated what he said after the game that he felt the 38-yard field goal that was blocked by the Bears' Alex Brown was a low kick.

He noted he hadn't talked to kicker Mason Crosby or holder Matt Flynn to see if there was any issue with the hold or placement that contributed to the block, but he didn't feel the push up the middle that the Bears got at the line of scrimmage was the deciding factor.

"Really, the protection had nothing to do with it," McCarthy said. "I know Alex Brown got his hand on the ball, but he was actually falling inside from what I saw. It was a poor kick."

{sportsad300}Cut short

One of the most glaring statistical differences from the Packers' first meeting with the Bears to their second this year was Green Bay's production on the ground.

Back on Nov. 16, the Packers rushed for a season-high 200 yards on 38 carries, including a season-best 145 on 25 carries from Ryan Grant. The team's average was 5.3 per carry, Grant's 5.8. But on Monday night, the Bears held the Packers to just 65 yards on 29 carries, or 2.2 per rush. Grant had 61 on 25 rushes, or 2.4 per, with a long of just 12.

There were a few negative runs blown up in the backfield that hurt the average, but McCarthy felt several times when a hole was there on the front side the gain was not maximized because of some missed cut blocks, allowing backside pursuit to snuff out the play.

"I didn't think we finished very well in certain segments," McCarthy said. "We had a number of runs that, my goodness, I thought they were coming out time and time again. I would say it was more execution, particularly maybe more on the backside."

Injury update

It appears fullback Korey Hall (knee) and defensive tackle Justin Harrell (hip) could return to game action this week from their injuries.

Meanwhile receiver Donald Driver (bruised knee) and linebacker Spencer Havner (ankle) may miss some practice time this week, as will receiver Greg Jennings and cornerback Joe Porter, who both sustained slight concussions. That group's status for Sunday's game doesn't appear to be in doubt, however.

Running back Brandon Jackson continues to deal with his wrist injury, while safety Aaron Rouse injured his ankle again. Both are expected to practice.

Offensive tackle Breno Giacomini (ankle) has already been ruled out for this week's game.

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