Packers Making the Most of Opponents’ Penalties

Mike McCarthy

Packer coach Mike McCarthy conversing with a pair of refs.

The Packers have had plenty of calls go against them this season, but they’ve also taken advantage of some penalties that have gone in their favor.

Remember the Packers opening drive against the Texans? Aaron Rodgers missed an open James Jones deep and we all groaned while trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with our MVP quarterback. Thankfully, the Texans lined up offside on a punt, giving the Packers a free fist down and Rodgers a re-do on a his deep pass.

This time, Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 41-yard touchdown on the very next play. From there, the route was on and order was restored in the Packers universe.

Before continuing, I want to be clear that I’m not saying the Packers have gotten lucky when it comes to penalties going their way. See the Fail Mary, phantom pass interference calls on Sam Shields and various bogus roughing penalties if you think that’s been the case. All I’m doing is pointing out a few instances where the Packers have taken advantage of an opportunity created by an opponent’s penalty.

I was in the stands when Jeff “I Should be a Replacement Ref but for Some Reason I’m Actually a Real Ref” Triplette and his crew missed a key fumble on a New Orleans kick return late in the game. The Saints appeared to take the lead after a field goal on the ensuing drive, but saw those three points wiped off the board due to a holding call.

The field goal re-try was no good, probably because the wind from all the Packers fans inside Lambeau breathing a sigh of relief caused the kick to sail wide.

How about this Sunday against the Jaguars? Hanging onto a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Packers faced third and 7 from their own 47. Instead of going the safe route and trying to just pick up enough yards for a first down, Rodgers launched a bomb to Jones, who held up his hands looking for a pass interference penalty as the ball fell to ground incomplete.

The official closest to the play did not throw a flag. Two of his colleagues did, however, allowing the Packers to extend the drive and eventually kick the game-clinching field goal. Replays showed it was probably the correct call, but a case could also be made that there wasn’t enough for interference.



Packers Penalty Palooza – Where Do They Go From Here?

In 2007, the Green Bay Packers were 4th in the NFL in penalties. In 2008, they moved up to 2nd, and in 2009, the Packers claimed the top spot in the entire NFL.  (BTW, for a more detailed look at the Packers penalty history with Mike McCarthy, take a look at this article written in June.)

With their recent domination of the NFL penalty stats, are there more hills to climb? What could the Packers do to solidify their legacy of  penalty prowess. Wait, I’ve got it! They can set new Packers all-time  records.

Well, one down already:

Most penalties in a single game -  (18)  in franchise history. What a great bullet point on your coaching resume. The record was previously held by the 1945 Packers. Looking at the roster for that team, about the only recognizable names are Ted Fritsch and Don Hutson (this was Hutson’s last season and he was strictly a kicker that year).  With the roster depleted by WWII, this was surely some ugly football being played in the NFL. And now the 2010 Packers can say they were just as ugly on this one day.

So what’s left?

Most Penalties in a Season – The current record of 135 is held by the 5-9-1 1987 Packers. You remember that team, don’t you? Names like Randy Wright, Paul Ott Carruth, Phil Epps, Alfonso Carreker. Ahh, the good old days…  (actually, that team did have one of my all-time favorite linebacker corps, with John Anderson, Brian Noble, Tim Harris and Johnny Holland. Other than that, though…).  Mike McCarthy’s  Packers did manage 118 penalties in 2009, but you would think they need to get their penalty-producing asses in gear to catch that 1987 team. Amazingly, though, the Packers need only to maintain their current penalty per game average (8.6667)  to finish the season with 138 penalties. Hey, that’s not unreasonable!

Most Penalty Yards in a season – (1103 yards) Also currently held by  the 1987 packers . Boy, that team was something, wasn’t it? But let’s not shortchange the 2010 Packers. It was only last season that the Packers were penalized  for 1057 yards, currently good for second place in franchise history. Now this is a very attainable goal to shoot for. Go Pack!