Following a 15-1 regular season in 2011, the Green Bay Packers were ushered out of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants. After the somewhat surprising outcome, an offseason of soul searching commenced around Packerland.
After apparently praising Giants coach Tom Coughlin excessively, McCarthy had this to say about the playoff loss to the eventual champions:
I felt in '07, we were beaten in the overtime game, they made one more big play than we did. And for them to go on the road, I don't want this to come out the wrong way, because that win is special, that's a great win for their football team. The margin of victory they won with, too, is definitely to their credit. But I feel like we beat ourselves in this playoff game. Or better yet, we didn't give ourselves a chance to win the game.
The '07 game was a heck of a football game and they made one more play than we did. We didn't give ourselves a chance to win this one. You'd rather someone beat you.
While I understand what McCarthy is saying, and I tend to agree that the Packers didn't play their best ball when they faced the Giants this past January, to even allow the idea out there for public consumption that the Giants didn't straight-up put a beatdown on the Packers was a big mistake.
While McCarthy's comments caused a few ripples among Giants bloggers and message boards, his comments got little national attention.
Well, now one of his players has echoed his sentiments, without couching it in praise for Tom Coughlin and the Giants the way McCarthy did.
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had this to say to Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver:
We picked the most inopportune time to play our worst ball. The fact is, [the Giants] didn't beat us; we beat ourselves. We need to play our best ball when it counts. This year, I expect us to be right back where we should be.
Actually Clay, "the fact is" that the Giants beat the Packers' ass, in front of a national television viewing audience.
Yes, the Packers offense turned the ball over an uncharacteristic four times. Yes, the defense unforgivably gave up a back-breaking Hail Mary at the end of the first half. Yes, the entire team was clearly rusty after the two-week layoff following their final regular season game.
None of that changes the fact that the Giants came into Lambeau Field in the playoffs, again, and were quite simply the better team in every facet of the game.
I don't mind McCarthy and Matthews acknowledging certain realities. But to intimate that the Packers only lost because they "didn't show up" or "beat themselves" is dangerous head space for any NFL team to occupy, let alone one that has serious Super Bowl aspirations heading into the 2012 season.
Here's hoping the Packers find a little humility prior to the kickoff of the regular season.