Packers Pixels: 10 Things You Might Have Missed in the Cowboys Game

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Matt Flynn

Matt Flynn

Well, it was one hell of game on Sunday, as the Green Bay Packers pulled out an improbable 37-36 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Since you were probably snoozing during at least half of this game, here are 10 things you might have missed.

1. To defer > To receive

I tend to bring this up almost every week, but I believe teams should always defer. I believe Green Bay’s comeback was set up in the locker room at halftime based upon the fact that the Packers chose to defer and were to get the ball first in the second half.

One could argue the Packers deferring also set the stage for them to fall behind in the first half and there is some limited truth to that. However as I’ve argued before, no matter what situation you might find yourself in from the start of the game until the first play of the third quarter, the outlook is far more positive when you choose to defer.

When you’re getting beat up on the scoreboard early it never seems as bad and gives a plausible reason as to why, and when you’re ahead it provides you with the motivation to go for an early dagger.

I wasn’t there so I don’t know but I’d be willing to wager that the Packers getting the ball first in the second half was a major part of the rally cry in the halftime speeches.

The only negative point about deferring would be any letdown suffered from not scoring to start the second half. And make no mistake about it, if the Packers failed to get points in that spot it was almost certainly game over.

I would argue that any momentum or fuel used by a team that has deferred expires the moment they fail to score in the second half and could lead to an emotional letdown. Should there be a letdown the severity of said letdown depends on  how important that first possession is to the overall outcome of the game. In this case with the Packers trailing by 23 at the half, they likely were depending on that first possession to spark a run. They had to have it. Had they not gotten it the chances of the air leaving the balloon was very likely.

To counter this one negative, as witnessed in this case, if the team that has deferred comes out and scores to start the second half they can carry that momentum for the entire second half. In my opinion the value gained from this momentum far trumps the negative of any letdown scenario.

The upside is too great. The downside is too minimal. Deferring can never be wrong.

2. No thanks. We won’t be needing that.

The Packers comeback was improbable. We all know that. But Green Bay managed to tie the record for the biggest comeback in franchise history without ever needing to convert on a fourth down.

I mean think about that. The Packers didn’t just come back… they freaking dominated in the second half. I attempted to find out if there had been a bigger comeback in league history without needing to convert on fourth down, but my efforts proved unsuccessful. If anyone should discover that the Packers set the bar in this regard, please be a sport and let us know. I feel like there’s a reasonable chance that this is a NFL record.

3. Boykin he catch.

Does this guy have great mits or what? Jarrett Boykin only had two meaningless catches for 19 yards in the first half, but came on in the second half when he was needed finishing with six catches on six targets for 83 yards. Boykin seems to have a rare combination of powerful yet soft hands, which has made him very reliable no matter how contested the coverage.

And this guy is silky smooth once he gets the ball.

Boykin plays fast, runs great routes, and catches the ball. He is a perfect example of how a player with a subpar 40-yard dash shouldn’t be dismissed too easily. He’ll be with this team for years to come.

4. Dude… what the hell!

Rookie Josh Boyd made some noise on Sunday when called upon to fill in for the injured Johnny Jolly. His crowning moment came on a DeMarco Murray run around the left end with 9:03 left in the third quarter. Running from his down position on the left side of the defensive line, Boyd ran parallel to the line of scrimmage while shedding a blocker the entire way, kept his eye on Murray’s progress, bypassed B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett who were engaged by blockers, and put a big hit on the crafty Murray after a gain of 6.

Even more impressive was Boyd’s acrobatic somersault to his feet after laying Murray out. As the two walked back to the huddle it appeared Murray did a double take and said something to Boyd.

It was probably something along the lines of, “How the hell did you get to me from way over there?”

5. Can’t help but talk about Tramon again.

In a “what have you done for me lately” type of league, lately Tramon Williams has played lights out. I had all but ruled him as gone after this season. Now, I don’t know what to think as his return to Pro Bowl form has been pretty damn astounding.

6. A commercial break is not break time.

It’s not too often the graphics team on Fox drops the ball, at least in a way where anyone would really notice or care. But coming back from commerical to start the fourth quarter on Sunday, everyone in the production truck decided to take a little nap.

That’s probably not true at all. As someone who works in television graphics, I would venture to guess that the production crew probably got caught up in the moment and was enjoying the game just like everyone else. When they went to commercial break to end the third quarter instead of focusing on their jobs, they probably were talking about the amazing Packers and inept Cowboys. This resulted in one of the most glaring graphical errors at an inopportune moment that I’ve noticed on a Fox NFL broadcast. I’m sure there have been much worse though.

We fade up from black to see a nice beauty shot of the inside of AT&T Stadium (it feels so weird calling it that) and the sound of Joe Buck trying to verbally set the stage for the final quarter of what was shaping up to be an improbable Packers comeback on the road.

But there was one huge problem… the scoreboard graphic in the upper left hand corner said 15:00 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, as if we were just coming back from halftime rather than just about to start the fourth quarter.

I must have done a quadruple take and I’m sure some of you did as well. And even though I watched the entire game without consuming one alcoholic beverage and downright KNEW it was the start of the fourth quarter, right then and there that error on the scoreboard made me take pause. I can only imagine that those doing some serious partying during the game were even more confused.

“Did we just come back from halftime?”

“Noooo. It’s the end of the third quarter. Wait, isn’t it?

“It says start of third quarter right there.”

“We’re only down twelve points with a whole half to go? We’re going to kill these guys!”

Did you catch it? It was pretty tough to miss because it was up there for so long. You had a full minute before someone finally noticed and fixed it live. Suddenly the 3rd quarter graphic magically dissolved into the 4th as the Deko operator made the switch.

This doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to the layperson, but a ton of people had to miss that mistake for it to make it live on the air. The fact it happened out of a commercial break makes it that much less forgivable, as there is time to review upcoming elements. You can be sure one or more people got severely chewed out or worse for that blunder.

“Oh see! It says fourth quarter now. They fixed it.”

“Told ya. Drunk bastard.”

7. The maturation of McCarthy?

When Mike McCarthy was uncharacteristically keeping his composure as a play caller in the face of a big deficit and actually running the football in the second half, I had one eye on the clock but also found myself nodding in agreement. This was one of the rare moments where I can honestly say I was proud of coach McCarthy and feel like maybe he learned a little something.

As the Packers were putting together the last couple drives sprinkled heavily with running plays, I couldn’t help but think of Bill Walsh and the 49ers who used to do the same when teams schemed heavily for and expected the pass.

Yes… I just kinda-sorta compared McCarthy to Walsh, without question the highest compliment I’ve ever bestowed upon our coach.

Good job, Mike.

8. Aikman’s Achings

Troy Aikman had to be hating life watching it all unfold, but he did call it out right away that Dallas needed to run. Perhaps it was his incessant brow-beating of the subject that led to the Monday morning chatter about the Cowboys refusal to use the running game.

All I kept thinking throughout the second half was, “Shut the hell up, Troy! Let them do what they want!”

9. Let’s not Quarless about this.
Tight end Andrew Quarless is stepping his game up, but he needs to be smart. Several times after making big catches Quarless routinely spins the ball at the foot of an opponent or haphazardly tosses it away. I have seen much less get flagged for delay of game.

You’re doing well Andrew. Don’t mess it up by being stupid. Hand the ball to the official and get back to the huddle.

10. How do you not see that?

How did the ref not see Tramon Williams interception? That is the one that was officially an interception. There was a linesman with a perfect view and perfect angle of the play no more than 10 feet away, staring a hole in the ball as he watched it unfold. Yet somehow he gets it dead wrong, emphatically waving that it’s incomplete. Pitiful.

Troy Aikman actually stated that the Packers needed to call timeout in order to get the replay assistant to review it, but according to the gamebook on NFL.com the review was instigated from upstairs.

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34 Comments on "Packers Pixels: 10 Things You Might Have Missed in the Cowboys Game"

  1. lars

    Deferring is what puts this team constantly behind in the first place. If the packers had a different coordinator than Capers and played a one gap instead of 2-gap 3/4 then I’d agree with the always deferring. They don’t and they won’t have the Cowboys to help them back from big deficits in the future. How well did deferring work against the Lions on Thanksgiving day?

    • the real russ letlow

      the Lions were so zoned in in that game I don’t know if we win even if every preferred starter is healthy and playing. I think we might have given them a little motivation, even if they are scum bag dirt balls.

  2. the real russ letlow

    how about Jordy? the dude looked like he was playing angry all game man. On the TD throw, after he ripped the ball out of the defender’s hands, he looked at the DB like he just stole his lunch money, pushed him down and took his girlfriend away all at the same time. Then he flipped the ball to the ref, like ” ain’t no thing but a chicken wing”. And that one-handed, go-ahead-and interefere-you-ain’t-gonna-stop-me catch was just sick. totally awesome.

  3. Phatgzus

    Probably the best analysis vis a vis deferring I’ve ever seen. I would add that it also has an advantage in that you can alter your game plan, whether it’s to include some plays you expect they haven’t prepared for based on their first half schemes or to attack deficient areas that you may not have thought would be an issue for the other team and thus had also not necessarily prepared for.
    Also MM has chosen to defer the majority of the time he has been the Pack’s coach, even in a time when it was virtually de rigueur to receive first.

    Dunno if that’s the only time that’s ever happened (certainly the only time I’ve ever witnessed it), but even if it isn’t, it’s still amazing.

    Thought it last year after that 4th-down catch vs. Minisoda, and that belief is doing nothing but strengthening-Jarret Boykin is gonna be a helluva player, the next Donald Driver.

    Boyd’s got some promise, lotta impressive young talent on that D-line; bye bye Maharaji Meal, hello youngsters and a discount Ryan Pickett.

    Same, just as I’m about to exit the Tramon bandwagon, he pulls me back in!

    Didn’t notice it, then again I was almost Snoop Lion status and was preoccupied dancing around alternately chanting “That’s how ya run the ball Eddie Lacy!” and “Thataway! Matty Flynn!”

    MM keeps his cool pretty well when he really needs to, he doesn’t ever make Honduras mistakes like the Schwartzs and Tomlins of the world, even when he’s pissed at the refs. Still, agreed, one of his best ever coaching efforts (along with the last half of this season) and that’s saying something.

    Outside of the excessive attention on “Big D”, I thought Acheman did pretty solid job and displayed little actual bias. May be the best game I’ve heard him and the
    Bucktard call; then again that may just be result of the game that was being played.

    GG also stuck the ball out behind him unnecessarily on a catch for a 1st-down with a Cowboy defender not 2 yards away, almost had an aneurism. Regardless way to step up Quarless, perhaps he’s turning the corner finally. Sayonara Finley, get well, please don’t risk your life/livelihood coming back.

    That was an incredible INT and thus a difficult call to make, but the ref, as you said was right there, when in doubt, call it a TO because then replay is automatically involved, ya know instead of almost costing a team not only a game but a season. I thought I heard one of the 2 chuckleheads in the booth or the ref state that the booth called amhalt before MM had to take the TO, not sure if I did or even if that’s true though.

    • WOW. Literally right as I go to say how terrible his pathetic deferring analysis was, someone is posting how great it was. You guys need to learn how statistical variance works, how it applies to NFL games, and when to defer to real analysts. This is terrible. Stop patting guys who don’t know what they are talking about on the back when you yourself don’t either.

    • Ryan

      I’m pretty sure I heard both the broadcasters and the ref say that the booth buzzed down to replay it before the play was run, thus prompting them to give us our timeout back. However, it took FAR too long for them to buzz down, in my opinion. Just based on the way Tramon reacted you knew that a second look was warranted. The zebra that so emphatically called it incomplete right off the bat in no way wanted to let anyone prove how blind he was. I would agree that in that situation, with a close play, call it a turnover and then let an auto-replay show what happened. What really was frustrating was that we couldn’t even force them to review it. It was inside 2 minutes, so it was an auto replay. Wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t buzzed down and never looked at it… Award the Seahawks a TD?

      • Packerguy

        Me being an asshole is entirely irrelevant, so I’ll go ahead and prove that I AM an asshole by pointing out that idiots REALLY need to learn the difference between “your” and “you’re,” because it’s REALLY not that fucking hard. Jesus.
        advancednflstats.com has done a fantastic job doing all the legwork for me so here:

        http://www.advancednflstats.com/2007/07/what-makes-teams-win-part-1.html (part 2 found inside)
        http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/01/expected-points-ep-and-expected-points.html
        http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/01/win-probability-added-wpa-explained.html
        http://www.advancednflstats.com/2013/11/momentum-1.html
        http://www.advancednflstats.com/2013/11/momentum-part-2-effect-of-momentum.html
        http://www.advancednflstats.com/2013/12/momentum-part-3-after-failed-4th-down.html
        http://www.advancednflstats.com/2013/12/momentum-4-how-streaky-are-nfl-games.html

        There’s some good stuff to get started.

        • Phatgzus

          There are some significant issues with this analysis.

          The definition of momentum is vague and arbitrary, and undermines the interpretation of any and all relevant statistics. The analysis fails to account for a manifold of factors: the psychological effects on the players and subsequent physiological effects and the psychological effects on the fans, whose actions can also influence the flow of the game, are just 2 examples.

          • That’s the whole problem with momentum. It is ALWAYS defined differently and it’s fundamentally arbitrary. Bill Barnwell has had some good articles showing how we let confirmation bias when we think momentum had an affect while showing all sorts of examples where momentum “should have taken effect” given the usual thoughts and was totally non-existent. I’ll try and dig those up later, but they’ll be a bit more of a pain to find. Fans don’t usually affect the game, as home court and home field advantage tend to be the same for all teams in a sport except for one or two outliers, indicating on a game-to-game basis that fans don’t actually play a role. There are lot a more details you could probe, such as false start splits H/A, that even further demonstrate this lack of differentiation. Crowd noise doesn’t actually do anything, unfortunately. Psychological affects on players is hard to measure, except on a holistic basis across a large sample size, and all analysis (there’s definitely more than what I’ve linked) has produced no evidence for it whatsever. Given human tendency to look at noise and make artificial patterns out of it (seriously look at what happens when you flip coins 100s of times, the “runs” would be so meaningful to most football analysts), it seems a virtual certainty that momentum is and always was a nonfactor.

          • Phatgzus

            Interesting, very similar to the “Hot Hand” debate.

            RE: Home Field Advantage

            There certainly exists such a phenomenon, at least for teams that are able to win on a semi-consistent basis. Perhaps it it due to a singular factor other than crowd involvement/noise (e.g. flight time, time change, climate/weather change, lack of preparation time/rushed preparation) or, more likely, due to some complex of such factors (perhaps including crowd noise).

            As per the coin flip probabilistic simulator: It is superficially analogous, however, it requires the eradication or exclusion of outside variables (except perhaps varying weight ratios between the 2 sides of different coins) whereas action-consequence events in sports (as well as “reality” in general”) are influenced by a multiplicity of coexisting and co-effective variables.

          • Phatgzus

            Look at you, PF4L! You’ve learned a new word! Congratulations!
            Though, I hasten to add, that perhaps you should utilize “fascinating” as a surrogate for “riveting”; it has less of that “20-dollar-word” varnish dontchaknow.

  4. PF4L

    I suppose you could argue the defer, receive discussion longer than Favre contemplated retirement. I think the catalyst of the whole comeback was the O line opening a hole, and watching the beast rip one off for his longest run of the season.

    Maybe an opinion can be expressed on how Tramon is back, to Pro Bowl form. But an opinion can also be made and proven (as iv’e previously posted) that Tramon isn’t close to, or in any danger, of being back to Pro-Bowl form. If i were to agree with that opinion Shawn, we’d both be wrong. A few plays in a season does not a Pro-Bowler make. But as iv’e also previously stated, a great interception nonetheless.

    As many have expressed a disdain for Aikman’s (un)professionlism calling a game. I paid extra attention to listen to him during this game. I don’t like the Cowboys, Jerry Jones, or Troy Aikman for that matter. But he called an excellent game. He both praised, and critiqued both teams, called it as it was, during the entire game. Outstanding job IMO.

    • Andrew Chitko

      You’re only as good as your last game and Tramon has strung together six or seven strong ones in a row. Is that deserving of Pro Bowl recognition? No it’s not. His poor play early in the season makes that almost impossible. However if there were a “Last 6 weeks” team, Tramon Williams would be front and center.

      Did you see how many times he was out on an island in space facing Demarco Murray and chopped him down? He may have let him by one time, but he made several unassisted tackles in space as he has been doing for half the season…the half that matters…the current half.

      I call them like I see them. When Tramon sucked I said it. It’s only right to acknowledge the fact that he’s certainly turning it around and playing A-list ball.

      • PF4L

        Define strong? Finally making some tackles? Getting a pick here n there? Not getting 2 PI penaltys a game?

        So in other words, he’s finally doing his job? Praise be!!

        • PF4L

          I’ll post it once more. There are over 90 NFL players with 2 or more picks.

          There are over 80 more players with more passes defended.

          Too bad his contract can’t be adjusted for past non- production. But he’s already banked all those millions. maybe at the very least he owed the Packers an interception, maybe some tackles.

          Priceless.

          • Andrew Chitko

            You define a good year by how many passes he has defensed? Those leading that category are also the ones most targeted. Darrell Revis could go weeks without defending a pass because they decide not to throw that way. Did that mean he sucked because he didn’t make your little list?

          • PF4L

            lmao..ok. Again , priceless

            Teams are what? Afraid to throw in the vicinity of Williams? So thats why he doesn’t have more passes defended and interceptions? Seriously?

            Dude, your analogy of comparing Tramon Williams and Darrell Revis explaining why Tramon doesn’t have stats is so blatantly weak. Not to mention absurd.

            I have one other explanation, although, far fetched as it might be. Ready?

            Tramon Williams hasn’t played very good football the last 3 years.

            Darrell Revis? Good one Andrew, thanks for the laugh.

  5. Cheese

    1. I agree, defer it is!
    6. I noticed that too, and was like what the fuck? Am I at Buffalo Wild Wings?
    9. Another thing I noticed, Quarless waiving the ball around, unprotected, with one hand, before he was down. Stop that now young man.
    10. Once again, the NFL and their officials are a complete joke. No credibility. It’s getting to the point where it is literally unwatchable. No matter how bad the refs are the league will always cover up for their bullshit, make up some lame excuse and lie through their fuckin teeth. Why not admit your mistakes and try to find ways to fix them and improve the game? That’s not how the NFL does business.

    • Andrew Chitko

      The refs and replay officials have far too much control. Sometimes calls go a certain way, get upheld or overturned under circumstamces so crazy that one can’t dismiss the notion that the fix is in.

      I mean you can’t have the former head of officiating out there on TV making the right call less than 50% of the time and say there’s any sort of legitimacy in how things are currently being run. Something has to change.

  6. Ryan

    Did nobody else hear Aikman coming out of halftime talk about how pointless adjustments at halftime were and how he never put stock in it? I was really hoping we proved him wrong, not just because it meant we’d win but because I love when he has to eat his words.

    • Andrew Chitko

      That’s a good call. I made a mental note about Aikman’s comment as I was watching the game live, but it slipped into the background when writing this up. That probably was worthy of making the top 10. Thanks for bringing it up.

  7. Tom

    Did anyone else think that McCarthy should have challenged the third and 12 catch by Dez Bryant late in the fourth? The one where he dropped the ball as he hit the ground.

    Seems to me he was being tackled as he made the catch, which means its a “process rule” play meaning he has to maintain control all the way through going to the ground (which he did not) in order for it to be properly ruled a completion. As I recall, we got a pick later in that drive, so no harm/no foul, but I just thought that was an easy challenge to make and win.

    • Andrew Chitko

      Another good point here. I actually texted Shawn, who writes the excellent TotalView here, and said the same thing…process of the catch. I think the argument would have been the process was completed, his knee was already down, and the extension of the football was post-possession and a second football move. It was awfully damn close that’s for sure. Good point.

  8. Harbor Bar

    11. Did you notice Fox did not show Jerry Jones in the last 2 minutes of the game? Farce? Owner broadcast demands? Was he furiously masturbating in his private box surrounded by his grand children cheering him on?

    • Andrew Chitko

      Another great point. The way some of the calls were going against Green Bay (Tramon’s nullified INT, them almost not reviewing the game-clinching INT in time, etc) it felt there was a little Dallas bias that’s for sure. And you’re right. How did we not see Jerry Jones late during the broadcast? Did he take off to see if Dez was alright? Or was there some sort of order on high to not embarass Jerry in his house…Excuse me, I mean AT&T’s house.

      Wah. Wah. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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