Before we begin, let's run this disclaimer: The Green Bay Packers were outplayed from the opening kickoff and deserved to lose Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Good, now that that's out of the way, we can get to our point: If Packers coach Mike McCarthy hadn't played so conservatively and had thrown a challenge flag on the following play, it's very likely Green Bay would have survived Kansas City's upset bid and would be sitting at 14-0 tonight, five games away from unprecedented NFL perfection.
Watch the play below. It occurred early in the fourth quarter, with Kansas City leading 9-7. Kyle Orton connects with Leonard Pope on a deep pass near the right sideline. Pope grabs the ball near the 10, leans into a defender and tries to tiptoe the sideline to the end zone. In doing so, he extends the ball in an attempt to break the plane, but fumbles it in the process. Officials on the field ruled Pope out of bounds and placed the ball at the two. Replays suggested something else happened.
Pope clearly was still in bounds when the ball fell out of his hand. Because he fumbled it into the end zone, the ball should have been ruled a touchback and given to the Packers at their own 20-yard line. A challenge by McCarthy would likely have overturned the call on the field.
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It was a rare misstep by the Packers coach. He had the red flag out in his hands and chose not to throw it. Perhaps it wouldn't given Green Bay a win, but it would have improved the team's odds greatly.
Green Bay would have been down 9-7 with the presumptive NFL MVP under center and 40 yards to go in order to get into field goal range. The Packers would have had all the momentum. The Chiefs, ruing a missed opportunity, would have been on their heels.
Who would you pick in that situation?
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