Seattle's miraculous comeback Sunday was thrilling and confounding. It was why we watch sports. For the Green Bay Packers, it was the cruelest loss imaginable.
After Packers safety Morgan Burnett picked off Russell Wilson with just over five minutes left, the Packers had the ball and a 12-point lead. The game should have been over so many times, but it really should have been over then. Coach Mike McCarthy's conservative decisions and the team's inability to move the ball late came back to haunt them.
The Packers had a fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line in the first quarter. That's a high percentage play, and if you fail the Seahawks are stuck on the shadow of their own goal line. McCarthy took the field goal. The Packers returned to the one-yard line one drive later, and kicked a field goal again.
"I didn't think it would take a lot of points to win this game," McCarthy said. "I came in here to run the ball. The one statistic I had a target to hit was 20."
The Packers were the better running team for much of Sunday, with Eddie Lacy showing exceptionally quick feet. But during the biggest spots of the game early, Green Bay didn't have faith in their attack. Late in the contest, they just didn't execute. They went three and out two straight times in the fourth quarter.
After Burnett's interception, the Packers understandably tried to burn the play clock. But Lacy lost four yards, and then two yards. At that point, McCarthy didn't give Rodgers a chance to win the game with a long third down conversion try. They rushed for four yards and punted. While the Packers were up 19-7 at the time, they didn't get the ball back until they were trailing.
Richard Sherman was playing with one arm in the fourth quarter, but the Packers didn't try to throw it at him.
The dropped onside kick from Packers tight end Brandon Bostick will go down in history as an all-time painful gaffe. But Rodgers spoke like a man Sunday that knew his offense allowed the Seahawks to hang around too long. He threw two interceptions and averaged only 4.9 yards-per-attempt.
Rodgers and the Green Bay offense got the Packers this far, but they weren't aggressive or effective enough in the biggest spots Sunday.
"You go home," Rodgers said.
The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps Championship Sunday, and breaks down the Seahawks' historic comeback against the Packers. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.