FanPost

Mike McCarthy's record in "close" games

With the close loss to the Patriots this week, Mike McCarthy's ability to win close games has been called into question. I decided I wanted to go back and look at every game of the McCarthy era to try to get a sense of how his teams perform in tight games and whether this concern is justified.

I think the first thing that needs to be considered is what constitutes a "close" game. For this exercise, I considered any game in which the Packers led or trailed by 10 points or less or went into overtime as "close." I've shown my work below. If you want to skip it and go to the summary, I understand (it's long), otherwise read on.

 

I've listed every game in which the Packers were within 10 points below. Each game lists the opponent and venue, the score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the final score, W or L, and any additional notes for the game.

 

2006 Week 2 vs. New Orleans: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 20-13. Final: 34-27 L

2006 Week 3 at Detroit:  Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 24-21. Final: 31:24 W

2006 Week 5 vs. St. Louis: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 17-13. Final: 23-20 L

2006 Week 7 at Miami: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 20-13. Final: 34-24 W

2006 Week 9 at Buffalo:  Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 10-7. Final: 24-10 L

2006 Week 10 at Minnesota:  Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 20-14. Final: 23-17 W

2006 Week 12 at Seattle: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 21-19. Final 34-24 L

2006 Week 15 vs. Detroit: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 10-6. Final: 17-9 W

2006 Week 16 vs. Minnesota: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 7-6. Final: 9-7 W

2007 Week 1 vs. Philadelphia: Start of 4th quarter: GB tied 13-13. Final: 16-13 W

2007 Week 2 at New York Giants: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 14-13. Final: 35-13 W

2007 Week 3 vs. San Diego: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 21-17. Final: 31-24 W

2007 Week 4 at Minnesota: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 13-9. Final: 23-16 W

2007 Week 5 vs. Chicago: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 20-17. Final: 27-20 L

2007 Week 6 vs. Washington: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 17-14. Final: 17-14 W

2007 Week 8 at Denver: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 13-10. Final: 19-13 (OT) W 

     *Note: Denver never touched the ball in OT.

2007 Week 9 at Kansas City: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 13-7. Final: 33-22 W

2007 Week 13 at Dallas: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 27-24. Final: 37-27 L

2007 NFC Championship vs. New York Giants: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 20-17. Final: 23-20 (OT) L

2008 Week 4 at Tampa Bay: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 20-14. Final: 30-21 L

2008 Week 5 vs. Atlanta: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 17-10. Final: 27-24 L

2008 Week 6 at Seattle: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 17-10. Final: 27-17 W

2008 Week 9 at Tennessee: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 16-13. Final: 19-16 (OT) L

      *Note 1: Bironas misses 47-yd field goal as time expires in 4th quarter.  Note 2: Packers did not touch ball in OT.

2008 Week 10 at Minnesota: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 24-21. Final: 28-27 L

2008 Week 13 vs. Carolina: Start of 4th quarter: GB tied 21-21. Final: 35-31 L

2008 Week 14 vs. Houston: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 13-7. Final: 24-21 L

2008 Week 15 at Jacksonville: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 13-7. Final: 20-16 L

2008 Week 16 at Chicago: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 14-10. Final: 20-17 (OT) L 

      *Note: Packers did not touch the ball in OT.

2008 Week 17 vs. Detroit: Start of 4th quarter: GB tied 14-14. Final: 31-21 W

2009 Week 1 vs. Chicago: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 12-10. Final: 21-15 W

2009 Week 2 vs. Cincinnati: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 28-21. Final: 31-24 L

2009 Week 3 at St. Louis: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 23-17. Final: 36-17 W

2009 Week 8 vs. Minnesota: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 24-20. Final: 38-26 L

2009 Week 9 at Tampa Bay: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 21-17. Final: 38-28 L

2009 Week 10 vs. Dallas: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 3-0. Final: 17-7 W

2009 Week 13 vs. Baltimore: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 17-14. Final: 27-14 W

2009 Week 14 at Chicago: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 14-13. Final: 21-14 W

2009 Week 15 at Pittsburgh: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 24-14. Final: 37-36 L

2009 Wildcard Round at Arizona: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 38-24. Final 51-45 (OT) L

2010 Week 3 at Chicago: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 10-7. Final: 20-17 L

2010 Week 4 vs. Detroit: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 28-20. Final: 28-26 W

2010 Week 5 at Washington: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 13-3. Final: 16-13 (OT) L

2010 Week 6 vs. Miami: Start of 4th quarter: GB trails 13-10. Final: 23-20 (OT) L

2010 Week 7 vs. Minnesota: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 28-24. Final: 28-24 W

2010 Week 8 at New York Jets: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 3-0. Final: 9-0 W

2010 Week 12 at Atlanta: Start of 4th quarter: GB tied 10-10. Final: 20-17 L

2010 Week 14 at Detroit: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 3-0. Final: 7-3 L

2010 Week 15 at New England: Start of 4th quarter: GB leads 24-21. Final: 31-27 L

 

Thus McCarthy's records in "close" games for the last 5 seasons are (starting with 2006): 5-4, 7-3, 2-8, 5-5, 3-6, for a career "close" game record of 22-26. For comparison, McCarthy's career record is 46-32 (including playoffs), meaning that in non-"close" games, McCarthy is 24-6. It should also be noted that a McCarthy coached team has never won when down by more than ten going into the fourth quarter and has never lost when winning by more than ten going into the fourth quarter.

Looking further into the numbers, in "close" games where McCarthy's team has the lead going into the fourth quarter, he has a record of 16-9; when he is trailing going into the fourth quarter, he has a record of 4-15; and when he is tied going into the fourth quarter, he has a record of 2-2. On the road in "close" games, McCarthy has a record of 11-16, and at home has a record of 11-10. So McCarthy has been slightly more likely to lose when leading by 10 or less going into the fourth than to win when trailing by 10 or less, and he has had slightly more away "close" games than home ones and has been slightly more successful in his home "close" games.

What does this all mean? Interestingly enough, each year of the McCarthy era there have been 9 or 10 "close" games, making the seasons somewhat easily comparable. Looking at his season splits in these types of games, the only years that McCarthy was above .500 in "close" games were in 2006 and 2007. This could be interpreted any number of ways: perhaps other teams have learned McCarthy's tendencies in late-game situations and are better able to defend it, maybe McCarthy's skills in "close" games have regressed, maybe Brett Favre was a better "close" game QB than Aaron Rodgers. It could be any number of things, and I'm not trying to figure out the whys here.

It can be concluded that McCarthy has (over his career) been slightly below average at winning "close" games (since average would be .500), but this has been largely due to poorer "close" game records in the last three seasons. However, McCarthy also has far more "blowout" (read: score difference more than 10 going into the fourth quarter) wins than losses. So I pose the question to the rest of Acme Packing Company: What's your take?

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