In many ways, the Packers' loss this afternoon to the Atlanta Falcons had the makings of a moral victory. The Packers were on the road against an excellent team, gave up 100 yards rushing, failed to force a turnover, failed on a fourth down conversion, fumbled the ball at the goalline, got nothing from their star defensive players, and reverted to their penalty-prone ways, but still had a chance to win the game. This demonstrates that they can, indeed, compete with anyone in the league on any given day. What held them back today? Coaching, specifically McCarthy's boneheaded clock management decisions.
At the end of the first half, Atlanta had a first and goal with roughly 80 seconds left on the clock. The Packers had two timeouts remaining. But as the last minute of the half ticked away, McCarthy chose to use neither of his timeouts, and the Falcons went on to score a touchdown with 8 only seconds left. Why, in God's name, would McCarthy not call timeout in that situation? The Packers had moved the ball in the first half. You know Atlanta is either going to kick a field goal, turn the ball over, or score a touchdown. If you use your timeouts, you give Rodgers and company a minute on the clock and see if they can get somewhere close to field goal range. And Atlanta had all three timeouts left. You know they're not going to run out of clock, even if you stop them on third down. So there was ABSOLUTELY no reason not to use your timeouts. Terrible, terrible mismanagement of the clock. And three points (what Crosby could have gotten at the end of the first half) turned out to be the margin of victory.
Then, at the end of the game. Unless Rodgers is constantly audibling into passes, the Packers' failure to call at least one run play during the goal-to-goal series was inexcusable. Have confidence that you're going to score. Think ahead, milk the clock, and make sure that Atlanta does NOT have enough time to march down and kick a field goal. By not running at least once on those four downs, McCarthy essentially lost the game. He gave Atlanta, with a great quarterback, and an excellent offense, playing at home, in a dome, more than a minute to march down and at least attempt a makeable field goal. Of course, Wilhem (who should be booted off the team for his double-penalty performance today) and the special teams made it easier. But the Packers have done this before in recent years--- they don't pay attention to the clock and end up shooting themselves in the foot, undermining what are often heroic offensive performances.
The NFL is a highly competitive league. Any offense in it has the ability to move the ball forty yards in a minute and kick a field goal. Every week games are decided by who has the ball last with some time to move down the field. And so, so often, McCarthy has ignored this fact. He's been a head coach for over five years now. He needs to learn. If he doesn't, the Packers' terrible record in close games (in his tenure) will only continue.
McCarthy should man up, learn from his mistakes, and apologize to the team for this loss. It's on him.