Bostick not solely to blame for Packers' loss
By LIAM BEVANS
College Contributor Network
Brandon Bostick was no doubt the loneliest man in the visiting team locker room at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Before that game, the average NFL fan would be hard pressed to name the Green Bay Packers' third-string tight end, and now his locker was surrounded by media after the NFC Championship Game for all the wrong reasons.
With two minutes left and a five point lead, all the Packers needed to do was recover an onside kick and knee on the ball to punch their ticket to Glendale for the Super Bowl. Steven Hauschka attempted the onside kick for the Seahawks, popping the ball up on one bounce straight for the reserve tight end. Bostick, who was out there to clear space for star receiver Jordy Nelson to recover the kick, saw the ball coming straight at him and abandoned his blocking duties. Instead he leaped for the ball, muffed the catch and subsequently allowed the Seahawks to recover and complete their improbable comeback.
Naturally, just like in 1986 when the ball went through Buckner's legs, once the game ended the blame game began. Many Green Bay fans will want to make Bostick the scapegoat for this infamous moment in Packers' history, however Green Bay had a myriad of other opportunities to win this game. They let it slip through their hands, plain and simple.
By the usual standards, a team and its fans should be very satisfied with a 16-0 at the half, especially when it enters the game as 7.5 point underdogs. Yet, when your opponents open up the game: Interception, Fumble, Punt, Punt, Interception, Interception, End of Half on their first seven possessions, then you clearly blew some opportunities.
For Green Bay, these blown opportunities all occurred in the red zone, and in the first half. After HaHa Clinton-Dix's first interception of Russell Wilson, which he returned to the four-yard line, Mike Daniels was assessed a 15-yard penalty for taunting. While the Packers were able to make up the yards on the penalty, John Kuhn and Eddie Lacey were both stuffed at the one and Green Bay had to settle for a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Seahawks fumbled, giving Green Bay the ball in plus territory at the 23. Once again the Packers were able to move the ball down to the one-yard line, this time on a third-down pass to Randall Cobb. Once again they had to settle for a Mason Crosby field goal. Twice they had phenomenal field position off turnovers, and yet they only came away with six points. Green Bay would eventually score in the red zone, a 13-yard pass to end the first quarter from Rodgers to Cobb, but the damage was already done.
The second quarter saw both teams trade interceptions on three straight positions, sandwiched between another Green Bay field goal and a Green Bay punt. The next big mistake made by the Cheese Heads actually came from their defense. Down 16-0 facing a fourth-and-10 from Green Bay's 19, and showing no signs of life, Seattle ran a fake field goal. While the Packers were caught by surprise, AJ Hawk was in position to stop the play. He made the split-second decision, however, to try and come up and tackle punter Jon Ryan. This left Gary Gilliam wide open for the score. Had Hawk stayed with the receiver, Green Bay corner Davon House would have almost certainly run down Ryan before he reached the first-down marker.
Add to this list Morgan Burnett taking a knee after yet another Wilson interception when he had plenty of green grass in front of him, and it's clear Bostick was not the only player to blame for this loss. One-of-three in the red zone, only six points off of five turnovers, and an inability to use the four-minute drill to run out the clock all led to the demise of their upset bid.
Now, Green Bay is only left with the visions of what could have been, as they will have to watch the Super Bowl knowing that it should have been them taking on New England. Blaming Bostick is taking the easy route, one many might choose to take, but for this loss to propel the Packers into this offseason they will have to view this loss for what it was. A team effort.
Liam Bevans is a graduate student at Boston College. He has spent the last six years working for the BC football team both as a student and as an intern. Follow him on twitter: @liham_andcheese