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Jermaine Kearse

What a way to end a season.

It doesn’t get much rougher than this kind of loss, but it was most certainly a team loss shared by coaches and players alike. In a hard-fought game in which the Green Bay Packers dominated the action for the majority of the day, they fell short in the end. Partly a result of questionable coaching decisions, but it was mainly a result of multiple player failures during the most important moments of the game that ultimately secured this Packers’ loss as one for the ages.

And with that… here are the 10 things that happened en route to the Packers’ most devastating defeat in franchise history.

1. Wind and Weather
In the predictions leading up to the game, I had Seattle winning 20-19, so clearly I gave the Packers a better than average chance of coming into Seattle and taking down the champs. On Sunday morning, however, when I saw rain and winds at 18 MPH with gusts in the high 30s, my spirit was substantially dampened. Without Aaron Rodgers’ ability to flee the pocket and allow his receivers additional time to get separation, his passes needed to be extremely accurate versus the Seahawks’ secondary.

The weather wasn’t discussed nearly enough as a reason for the poor quarterback play for both Seattle and Green Bay. Also, receivers on both teams were struggling to catch routine passes.

Weather isn’t what cost the Packers this game, but it might have played a role in Rodgers’ ineffectiveness.

2. A Reversal in Philosophy
Answer this question:

In the NFL, for playoff success to be achieved, a team should be more ____________ in the playoffs than the regular season.

A. Aggressive

B. Conservative

There are those out there who liked the fact that the Packers settled for field goals deep in Seahawks’ territory, but as far as I was concerned, it sent a really bad message to both teams that the Packers were playing scared.

What do the Packers normally do in that situation? They go for it.

What do they do in the biggest game of the year when 99 and possibly 100 out of 100 people would choose letter “A” above as the obvious answer to the question? They lose their nerve, take the points and set the tone for the entire game.

Well what if they wouldn’t have made it? So what!

Sometimes they didn’t make it, like week 17 versus Detroit when they got stuffed, but Mike McCarthy would correctly defend the action as the correct one. How can he now sit there in this press conference and not admit that his actions were a little conservative?

Later, I was continually surprised by the patience that Pete Carroll demonstrated. In the fourth quarter, he continued to run the ball and never got into an up-tempo offense. Even with less than two minutes and needing a touchdown to win, there was never the slightest hint that there was any panic on Seattle’s side of the field. And maybe that’s because McCarthy showed all his cards in those three early 4th-and-short situations where he took the conservative route each time.

Does Pete Caroll feel confident enough to punt from midfield with seven minutes left in the game and down by two scores if he thinks McCarthy will do anything on offense? Passing on the opportunity to go for it early revealed McCarthy’s conservative mindset and seemed to provide Carroll with a calm throughout this game.

Let me be very clear. I have never been a big fan of Pete Carroll. That being said, this was a masterful coaching performance and an utter domination of the Packers during the most crucial moments of the game. The Packers were acting like clock-watchers, while the Seahawks acted like patient stalkers, confident that they would eventually finish their timid prey.

Coaching isn’t what cost the Packers this game, but the conservative approach allowed Seattle to stay in it.

3. Rodgers looked pretty nimble there
Aaron Rodgers barely moved out of the pocket on Sunday, but on his one touchdown of the day, he appeared to move with relative ease. His scrambling out of the pocket to the right allowed Randall Cobb a massive passing window that I didn’t expect Rodgers to be able to create. Apparently, he could only do it that one time though and that wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Rodgers’ lack of mobility didn’t cost the Packers this game, but it certainly didn’t help.

4. The 15-yard penalty that wasn’t
Prior to the 3rd and 19 debacle, which will be discussed below, there was a strange call on the field where the Packers declined a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Seattle. This was the play where Clay Matthew sacked Russell Wilson for a substantial loss and then was immediately jumped on by Seattle’s J.R. Sweezy, which brought a yellow flag.

The reason the Packers declined the penalty is because the referees ruled the cheap shot by the Seattle lineman happened during the course of the play and was not after the whistle. Thus, the Packers could take the result of the play or back Seattle up 15 yards and give them the down over. As the sack was a loss of exactly 15 yards, the Packers correctly took the result of the play.

The bigger question is, how is this not a penalty after the conclusion of the play, and therefore subject to an additional 15 yards tacked on at the end of the play? After all, the play is over once Clay sacks Wilson and Wilson is clearly on the ground and down before Sweezy jumps on Matthews, but guess what? It’s a judgement call for the referees to determine if it was during or after the play.

As it turned out, this would be a very bad break for the Packers and lead to dire consequences.

5. 3rd and 19
Has a three-man rush ever worked for Dom Capers during his tenure as Packers defensive coordinator? I don’t think so.

So Dom thought he would do himself one better and rush only two and spy the quarterback with the other guy, thus creating the much feared two-man rush! This gave Russell Wilson over eight seconds to scan the field and find an open receiver. We all know where this game went from here.

Dom Capers called a hell of a game, minus a couple plays. This was one of them.

6. Bullseye
I don’t know why coaches in the NFL don’t do some of the things I’ve been doing on Madden for years. One such example is when your opponent is in a fourth down situation where a fake field goal is highly likely, just as it was before the Packers got burned on Sunday.

The response to such a scenario? Don’t even put your special teams unit on the field!

At that point in the game the Packers are up 16-0 and this is a freaking chip shot. Just concede the damn three points and put your nickel or dime out there and be done with it.

The blatantly obvious idea that a fake COULD be coming had to be at least somewhat present, right? I mean, they had to consider the possibility. Right? Please?

At 16 points down, you’re two touchdowns behind and at 13 points down you’re still two touchdowns down, yet the Packers marched their usual field goal unit out there and fell right into the trap.

Although this play didn’t cost the Packers the game, had they been more aware of the situation, the Seahawks would have burned a timeout and kicked the field goal.

7. Get down! Get down!
Much has been said about Morgan Burnett sliding down like the game was over. What many thought was even worse was when Burnett said he had no regrets about the decision. However, unlike head coach Mike McCarthy, who also uttered the “no regrets” mantra, Burnett’s response was used in protection of a teammate rather than as one to avoid responsibility.

Julius Peppers, and who knows who else on that field and sideline, told Burnett to get down. When a teammate, especially one that large, tells you to hit the deck… you best hit the deck.

I can imagine Burnett looking at the clock a couple seconds after the play and thinking, “Damn. I should have run with it.” But in the moment, I blame Peppers more than Burnett. What we’ll never know is what was being said on the sideline or by the coaches.

Did Peppers make this decision on his own or was it coached? Either way, it was wrong. You slide down when the game is no longer in question, not when there’s five minutes left, you have a 12-point lead, and you’re playing the best fourth quarter team ever with possibly the greatest defense of all time. What a horrific mistake.

Peppers’ decision to tell Burnett to hit the deck didn’t cost the Packers this game, but if Morgan veers right he’s got nothing but green pasture in front of him.

8. Are you trying to run clock or not? 
A lot of people are complaining about Mike McCarthy’s conservative play calling late in the game. Even Aaron Rodgers seemed a little peeved about it. However, I really never had a problem with it. It was McCarthy’s decision to throw the ball on a 3rd and 4 with 5:26 left, when up by 12 that caught my attention.

Running the ball in this spot would automatically run the clock down to 4:46 and take 8 percent of the remaining time off the clock. That’s not an insignificant amount of the remaining time. Not only that, the previous play before the incomplete pass to Andrew Quarless was a 5-yard gain by James Starks. So, it’s not like it was some sort of impossibility that Starks could get four more on the following running play.

In what was obviously a conservative game plan from McCarthy, he chose to be aggressive at the most inopportune and foolish moment. Rodgers hit Quarless in a tightly contested play, but it fell incomplete.

Side note: Richard Sherman, in a piece on MMQB, stated only three teams in the NFL vary the plays they call on third downs and the Packers aren’t one of them. The Packers went 3-for-14 on third down, making it safe to assume that the Seahawks knew what was coming on every single one.

This incomplete pass that stopped the clock didn’t cost the Packers the game, but it might have made it more difficult for Seattle to come back had they run.

9. Brandon Bostick
How does one get in the good graces of the public eye? By accepting responsibility for and owning up to his actions.

Brandon Bostick may never be forgiven for abandoning his assignment and letting down his team, but if I ever run into him in the real world, he will get no scorn from me. Although he has no excuse for botching the play that helped put the cherry on top for the Seattle Seahawks, he has behaved like a man in this situation and has a reason to be proud.

Again, what we won’t know is how assignment-sure Bostick was in practice for this situation. If he made that mistake in practice EVER, then this colossal failure could also be placed near the feet of the hopefully former Packers special teams coaches.

Bostick’s utter failure didn’t cost the Packers the game, but it was the springboard for Seattle’s victory.

Jordy should have just shoved Bostick towards the nearest Seahawks player.

It’s all Jordy’s fault. Let’s get him!

10. Cover zero
Why Dom? Why?

When the only thing to fear was a touchdown, Dom Capers called a defensive formation tailor-made for a shot play. Maybe the Packers’ defensive unit was so exhausted at this point that he felt the need to stack the box a little bit more, but in an instant the game was over.

This game was not unlike the ones in the Super Bowl run in 2010-11. With the Falcons’ blowout being the exception, McCarthy and the Packers played a similar style en route to winning the Super Bowl. In the three games versus Philadelphia, Chicago and Pittsburgh, the Packers got out to big leads and then hung on for dear life, each contest ending with the defense on the field forced to secure the win. This match up was no different, but with one exception. This time the defense was only capable of slamming the door shut so many times before they toppled over.

Time of possession in the first quarter was 12:38 for the Packers and 2:22 for Seattle. At the end of overtime it would be 32:15 to 31:04, just barely in favor of the Packers. The Green Bay defense was on the field for just under 30 minutes in the final three quarters and the offense did absolutely nothing to give them a break.

Live by the sword. Die by the sword.

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26 Comments

  1. TyKo Seamboat January 20, 2015

    Any one of these scenarios Andrew mentions above changes ever so slightly & the Packers win & we all would hail McCarthy as one of the greatest coaches in Franchise history.

    Instead, a couple of unlikely scenarios take place & a “once in 5 years” miracle happens & everyone wants to overreact & call for blood.

    The real bummer was staying healthy all season long & not going to the Title game. In 2011 we went 15-1 because we were a team that maintained health & lost to the Giants by way of fumbles & mistakes.

    We lost on Sunday to a fake field goal & an onside kick basically. This franchise is still in a good place for the next 5 seasons.

    1. Andrew Chitko January 20, 2015

      Thanks for reading. Enjoy the off season.

    2. MMTTDCSUCK January 21, 2015

      Never, MM is a game time management Buffoon period. Year in, year out. Where was his pro-activity with his ST’s coach or the DC? He allowed D Capers to undo their D game plan (that had been working great all game), and go with the prevent D. WTF? The play calling at the end was an abomination. And his reason? He wanted to hit 20 rushing attempts in the 2nd half! Wow! and you advocate for this fucktard?

    3. Fritz January 21, 2015

      we lost to the giants precisely because we went 15-1, or more accurately why the HC decided the team should take the [game]day off on their last game on the road, and get complacent against a former Bears QB who knew how to play against the pack in Kansas Shitty. that i on the HC too, and, like all the seasons since that one and only SB, at some point, late in the year, a “switch” is flipped somewhere in the minds of the leadership [mainly coaches, and AR too, or at least infecting AR somewhat], they go on “cruise control” then that leads to going to sleep at the wheel, then that leads to taking their postseason over a year-ending cliff.

      the only difference between this repeating scenario and a similar DirecTV ad, is that the latter hasn’t been going on the air for every one of the past 5 yrs. but hey, at least DirecTV recognizes they’ve got a subtle, relevant message for us, ready-made, for the next 5 years, and all nfl fans will know what that tv ad is satirizing.

      so Tyko, all i got to say is: enjoy the next 5 seasons of train wrecks, or variations thereon, unless TT has the courage to revoke the packers’ unwritten traditional “SB winner’s halo of untouchability” protecting MM [and some others] jobs…?

  2. Nate January 20, 2015

    Well said sir…I second everything you’ve said. Especially the Fake FG logic. I mean, why haven’t NFL teams figured that Madden strategy out yet? What are the chances you’d block it with your ST unit out there? I mean really?

  3. icebowl January 20, 2015

    Ugh…..

    Here’s the craziest thing about this game: The Packers failed in all the scenarios above and still probably would have won if Brandon Bostick did his job on the fateful onside kick attempt….

    How they lost: Eight plays that doomed the Packers – NFL.com
    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000460883/article/how-they-lost-eight-plays-that-doomed-the-packers

  4. Richard January 20, 2015

    Not sure what they were thinking at the end, but I didn’t question any of the decisions early to take the points and play somewhat conservative. If only the special teams were anything other than completely incompetent and the players didn’t start packing for Arizona with 5 minutes left…

  5. MMK January 20, 2015

    The entire world has been screaming that the special teams unit would cost green bay a big game, and now it finally did in the form of TWO costly mistakes. But Micah Hyde will return a kick for a TD every now and then or Mason Crosby will go 5/5 on fgs and then people are back on the “maybe slocum isn’t so bad!” bandwagon.

    Special teams needs a complete overhaul. Defense is finally starting to look like the real deal, please don’t waste another year on the “woulda coulda shoulda”

    1. Richard January 20, 2015

      Agree 100%. This is certainly a situation where somebody needs to be sacrificed on the coaching staff, and I can’t imagine it would be anybody but Slocum. Of course in 2004 it was the wrong guy sacrificed in Donatell, let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself that way.

  6. icebowl January 20, 2015

    Great write-up….
    Someone way wiser than I once stated something like “The best therapy for depression is often sarcasm…”

    Particularly liked : “So Dom thought he would do himself one better and rush only two and spy the quarterback with the other guy, thus creating the much feared two-man rush!”

  7. icebowl January 20, 2015

    Oh, put me down for option A….

  8. Howard January 20, 2015

    Thanks for all the great analysis and information you provided this year. It is too bad there is not another set of posts regarding a Packer Super Bowl.

    I watched the game to the end, said F–k, pounded my fist on a table three or four times, walked out the door, got into my pickup and drove in silence for eight hours. No radio, nothing. I have not watched any sports TV. I made the return yesterday in silence. Needless to say I have had a lot of time with no input except reading Total Packers. I understand why everyone has wrote what they have. I went through all the why and who is responsible questions. When it comes down to it I keep coming up with the same conclusion over and over.
    I wanted to be mad at Daniels for that stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but Daniels made other good plays.
    I wanted to blame McCarthy for not going for it on fourth, but I would have taken the points.
    I wanted to blame Kuhn for not sticking the ball over the goal line, but Kuhn made other plays and that is risking a fumble.
    I wanted to blame Rodgers for throwing two INT ‘s,( the kiss of death), but he did make other plays.
    I wanted to blame the ref for not adding the dead ball penalty onto the sack, but shouldn’t the D be able to stop third and 19?
    I wanted to blame the DB’s for allowing the long pass receptions in the fourth quarter, but they did perform well for 3 and 1/2 quarters with four INT’s. I still have to look at Hayward he did allow some big plays and had key missed tackles.
    I did not realize the fake field goal was on Jones, but Jones did cause a fumble. Now is were the problems start that I cannot reconcile.

    Why do we even rush the field goal in that circumstance? It appears the Packers coaches and /or players had no situational awareness.

    On third and 19 why only rush two when that has never worked well for the Pack and specifically against Wilson. Where is the situational awareness.

    On Burnett’s INT. Why perform the woody flop with approx. five minutes left? Now that I have seen the coaches film I feel like throwing up. Where is the situational awareness?

    When watching the sideline antics after the Burnett’s infamous woody flop maneuver there is to much celebration. Where are the coaches and veteran players letting those ass slappers
    and glad handers know there is still a long way to go. Why lose focus? It is the NFL and you are playing against the Super Bowl champs. Remember fail Mary last play? Where is the situational awareness?

    Bostick is suppose to block on the onside kick instead he gets in the way of Nelson. Did Bostick not understand the call or his responsibilities. Was there no reminders prior to the kick. Where is the situational awareness?

    How do you not leave a single high safety on the game ending play and why is Richardson the safety? An allowed field goal gives the offense an opportunity. A TD ends the game. Where is the situational awareness.

    Sherman is hurt and No one seems to know? Why not at least go after him once with a pick play or any pass play? No one knew he was injured? Where is the situational awareness?

    So who is responsible to practice and teach the players situational awareness? If the players do not understand the situation they are in during the heat of the game who is responsible to reinforce the situation to the players?

    Do the Packers have enough coaches who do not have other responsibilities (such as play calling) on the sideline that can enforce the game situations to the players? Are those coaches even aware of the game situations? Are those coaches strong enough personalities to make their will be accomplished. I believe the answer is no! I can not get over that this loss is a failure in mainly coaching and some in veteran leadership.

    I will make no opinions as to if any coach or player should go, except Brad Jones. I do believe there needs to be major changes to the coaching structure, at a minimum on the sidelines.

    1. Andrew Chitko January 20, 2015

      Howard perhaps you’ve seen these other articles of mine from the past. If you haven’t, check them out.

      I’ve been irate with the Packers lack of attention to situational football for McCarthy’s entire tenure.

      https://totalpackers.com/2015/01/12/dez-bryant-let-dallas-cowboys-ashamed/

      https://totalpackers.com/2013/12/23/mike-mccarthy-achilles-heel-rears-ugly-head-packers-loss-steelers/

      https://totalpackers.com/2011/10/18/cerebral-football-featuring-james-jones-and-sam-shields/

    2. SA Packerfan January 21, 2015

      I couldn’t agree more, it is a huge problem that other teams can take advantage off in tight situations. How can any coaching staff accept that they didn’t know or call for defending the fake field goal much less the players calling time out knowing it also. It is so stupid it is comical. My twelve year old son was screaming fake at the TV before they lined up and before I said anything. They can use the argument that none of these f-ups singularly lost the game but that is weak argument to avoid the larger issue. The larger issue in how is F can you have so many insanely stupid plays in five minutes? If that is not answered then I have no hope for a SB while we have Rodgers. Sure we can get into the playoffs but in crunch time we will lose. We lost to a team that was playing as bad as they could until the last five minutes!

    3. Fritz January 21, 2015

      don’t worry about me posting all this shit if they win another SB. i will be out celebrating, no where near a fucking laptop, and hope, if it comes to pass, that i will then somehow feel that all this “gnashing of keyboard teeth” finally contributed in some small way to motivating enough souls in packer nation towards my goal: leading to the steps mgmt. MUST take to get another Lombardi back home; hopefully before AR has to hang up his cleats as only a “one ring wonder”…

  9. Howard January 20, 2015

    I did not become aware of Total Packers until late last season. I did read the Dez Bryant article. I was not aware of the other two. Thanks for bringing the other articles to my attention. The content is perfect. McCarthy is not going anywhere and I would not be one who would want him gone at this time. Agree there has to be one or more individuals that have responsibilities for situational awareness during the game and in practice. If those person(s) are currently employed they need to be replaced.

  10. pf4l January 20, 2015

    I’m done reliving this epic nightmare.

  11. Vijay January 21, 2015

    Last point… Richard Sherman is injured and can only use one arm…why not challenge him!?!?

  12. JB January 21, 2015

    One more: why wasn’t Clay playing during the defensive meltdown?

  13. thetoadkillerdog January 21, 2015

    I think McCarthy is a very good analytic coach who is always classy and professional. The team reflects that, they go about their job in a very workman type way. You very rarely see them spouting off in somebody’s face or TV camera (hello Richard Sherman). This works week in, week out. Play the game, review the game, make corrections.
    However, it does not work in high-profile, high-stress, emotional games. Football championships are won by the fire in their belly, the passion to beat the other team and be the best. McCarthy does not coach that way, he’s a football nerd for crying out loud. I think this explains the boneheaded decisions made on field by players who, in the calm of practice, execute well. They are not coached, practiced and/or tested in high-stress, emotional situations. That’s what the Lombardis, the Maddens, the Carrolls and the Harbaughs of football bring to the (championship) table. Passion and the ability to develop, harness and focus that passion in young talented men. That’s the piece that’s missing from McCarthy coached teams. And he won’t be changing anytime soon. sigh.

    1. Fritz January 21, 2015

      good one, “toad killerdog”–
      that is exactly what i’ve been trying to say in my last several dozen posts! but at least i hope my “old guy’s old school” perspective prevented somebody from committing suicide, or at least going to shit, viz.,

      ALL: please remember that you guys, whether on a winners high or a losers ghastly low: we, PN, are the greatest sports family the world has ever seen. we have experienced more REAL life [players] and REAL fandom [fans and owners like myself], than ALL OF THE OTHER NFL TRIBES PUT TOGETHER!

      in fact, some of them have been waiting forever to experience, win or lose, the spectacle of their guys even getting to the big show, much less actually hoisting a SB trophy. but hey, it is just a game; if they lost, it is not like they got ambushed and shot up by the taliban like other nfl heroes, no? there is always a next season that awaits management’s corrective, and hopefully courageous, decisions and changes; as all great nfl organizations are driven by a philosophy of “continual improvement” and the brilliant ones know what changes are needed; BUT are also smart enough to take advantage of what opportunities present themselves now, while also patient enough to wait and stay alert for the right opportunity to come along at some future time as the situation calls for it. [i.e. to avoid “impulse buying” as so many losers do, whether it be an nfl owner like dan schneider, or your average main street stock investor].

  14. Andrew Chitko January 21, 2015

    Not sure JB, but I’m thinking the Sound Effects NFL Edition of this game might provide some answers as to what was being said as it was all slipping away.

  15. Pack January 21, 2015

    I couldn’t agree more with toad killer. I’ve always though the Packer teams in general have a friendly courteous feel to them. There is rarely that I am going to kill you mentality. That we want to destroy you attitude. And that starts with Mccarthy. They are obviously a very talented team and that wins them games in the regular season but come playoff team you have to be ready for anything. That safe conservative professional game play just doesn’t work.

  16. SA Packerfan January 21, 2015

    I just noticed that McCarthy was the only coach of the four in the Championship games that called offensive plays. Look into it and you find that lots of coaches think it is a bad idea in tough games.

  17. Tedtomato January 21, 2015

    As much as I hate pete carroll..i must say he does know how to coach to his players abilities. Hes 2-0 in nfc championship ship games and buffoon is 1-2. Theyve watched enough film to know that the packers play very conservative when they have a decent lead in the second half. How is it..we couldnt do anything on offense in the second half yet..when we needed a field goal to tie..we just march right down the field and score? Mcfatass clearly choked this game away!! There better be some heads rolling over this one!! Slocum..this guy was so incompetent at his job..they brought in Ron Zook to help that dipshit out!! Any other St coordinator wouldve been shit canned!!!

    1. Fritz January 21, 2015

      another thing i noticed about pete carroll, lately. i am a displaced wisconsinite, i live in the DC suburbs of no. Va. before the cowboys game, there was an outpouring in the local media, radio talk, et. al., rooting for the cowboys to lose their playoff game, and then, if it was on tv or radio, to remind DC area fans that the name of the boyz spoilers this year was: the GB packers. e.g. i could go into a mcD sporting a GB visor, and get an extra FREE mcCafe frappe and a cheerful good luck to the pack! as a welcome!

      now the amazing part of the story: since last sunday, i have gotten ten times more sympathy, personally, from friends, or strangers, by mail, phone, emails, meeting on the street, et. al. and that doesn’t even count my few Pats fans friends in Boston! ALL OF THESE CONDOLENCES END WITH AN EXPLANATION: THEY FAVORED THE PACK TO GO TO THE SB AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THEIR OWN TEAM BECA– — USE ALTHO THEY LIKE GB AS A CLASSY GROUP ON AND OFF THE FIELD, THE BIGGEST REASON IS: THEY HATE THE “DOUCHEBAG” PETE CARROLL!!!
      as i only attended a small non-ncaa college myself, i can only scratch my head and guess that there are so many college grads living in my area, that it must have something to do with PC’s college level coaching career– bouncing around the various colleges and ncaa conferences that exposed so many college FB fans around the country to this classles bubblegum-chawing clown’s abrasive gargoylike on field demeanor? also maybe his brazen “win at any cost” cheater’s foul-happy team approach? lol?

      but really, i am flabbergasted that i have everywhere run into such sentiment towards a team, because of the opinion of the coach, on the other coast, not even considered a pro FB rival here in the wash.-baltimore area. soooo, to be diplomatic i will reveal my true sentiments: for the very first time, i am, to win SB, openly rooting for______

      goooooooo, Pats! there i said it.

      fritz out.