NFC championship loss to Giants leaves Packers coaches looking for answers Print
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Tuesday, 22 January 2008 14:16
NFL Headline News

 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Just hours after Green Bay lost Sunday's NFC Championship game to the New York Giants, Packers coaches were back at Lambeau Field looking at game film.
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said coaches were in their offices by 7 a.m., Monday, looking for answers to the questions that ran through their minds all night.
``Went home and tried to sleep, most of us probably not a lot,'' Philbin said. ``We came in and watched the film and probably felt worse than we did before.''
When Packers head coach Mike McCarthy holds his season-ending news conference on Wednesday, he'll talk about success in taking a team few expected to make the playoffs within a few plays of the Super Bowl.
Given that improved play led to Super Bowl-or-bust expectations, he's also likely to face questions about what went wrong in the 23-20 overtime loss to the Giants.
For example:
Why couldn't the Packers run the ball?
``Execution was not up to our standards,'' Philbin said. ``You guys had seen us play for 17 games and in most of those games, we executed better. We've got to play better on a big stage.''
Why couldn't Al Harris cover Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, and why couldn't the defense adjust to help him?
``The defense is flexible enough to help when we need to,'' defensive coordinator Bob Sanders said. ``That's what we adjusted to in the second half and did a much better job. But Al's been consistent all year. There's no one guy. We play as a unit, and we stick together as a unit.''
Why did Jarrett Bush try to scoop up a fumbled punt and run with it instead of just falling on the ball?
``He tried to make a play,'' Packers special teams coordinator Mike Stock said. ``What can you say?''
Finally, what was Brett Favre thinking on that interception in overtime?
``The ball was inside, and ideally if you're going to miss a throw on that particular route, you'd prefer to miss it on the outside,'' quarterbacks coach Tom Clements said.
Those are the kinds of things that gnaw at coaches, driving them to break down game film early in the morning.
Even when they don't have another game for almost seven months.
``Your No. 1 reaction is you want to see why it happened,'' running backs coach Edgar Bennett said. ``So you go to reviewing the tape and kind of analyzing certain things. I guess just to go back and replay it, what could we have done better in this area, and how can we make the necessary adjustments and improvements?''
Bennett is only a few years removed from playing, so he hasn't forgotten how hard team members can take a playoff loss. He also knows frustration can be channeled into hard work.
So, Bennett's brief message to the running backs on Monday was about the Packers' NFC Championship game loss to Dallas to end the 1995 season, and how it drove them to a victory in the Super Bowl the following season.
``We took it for what it was worth as far as an opportunity to get recommitted, refocused and go above and beyond,'' Bennett said. ``We know how hard it was, the road and the journey was to get to this point, and how much we were going to have to give, even more, and the sacrifices we were going to have to make to get back and even go beyond.''
Bennett said that his players ``get it - they really do.''
Even though the Packers won't have another game to prepare for until September, Bennett couldn't help but point out a few specific corrections he noticed on film.
``Actually, we touched on a little bit - just a little bit,'' Bennett said, with a smile. ``Again, that's the coach that comes out.''
Still, Bennett said every coach made sure to send players away on a positive note.
``Certainly thanked them for their work ethic,'' Bennett said. ``Obviously disappointed, but don't overlook the good from this season.''
After all their success, Philbin said the sudden end was a shock.
``Any season, when you're together for 180 straight days and then all of a sudden, bang, it's over, it's a shock to your system,'' he said. ``Whether you win, lose, it doesn't matter. I never like the Mondays after (the season). Especially since my wife's going to make me work my tail off when I get home.''
 

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