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Sunday, December 18, 2011
McCarthy thought Pope was out of bounds

By Kevin Seifert

KANSAS CITY -- In the end, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't think he had enough evidence to challenge a key play that led to a Kansas City Chiefs field goal in the fourth quarter of a 19-14 loss Sunday. I don't think the episode had a direct impact on the outcome of the game, but generally I try to bring you quick explanation of any play that sparks postgame discussion.

Leonard Pope
Leonard Pope lost control of the football at the end of this 33-yard reception.
The call in question: A 33-yard pass from Kyle Orton to tight end Leonard Pope with just under 13 minutes remaining in the game. On the play, which you can watch here on NFL.com, Pope lost control of the ball as he moved it his right hand to his left while running down the right sideline.

The ball trickled into the end zone and out of bounds, but officials ruled that Pope's right foot touched the sideline before he lost control. That gave the Chiefs a first down at the Packers' 3-yard line and ultimately led to a 20-yard field goal.

Replays indicated that Pope started losing control before his right foot was out of bounds. Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who was alongside Pope at the moment, said afterward that he thought the play should have been ruled a fumble and a touchback. So did former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira.

But McCarthy said: "I thought we were right on it. I was of the opinion that the foot was out of bounds before the ball popped out. We talked about it and had a long break in between. I had plenty of time to make the decision. Based on the information, I thought it was right not to challenge."

Again, I don't think we should turn this into a bigger deal than it is. Perhaps the game would have played out differently without the additional three points the Chiefs got from the play, but you would be hard-pressed to say it cost the Packers the game. It was a debatable decision, and now you know where McCarthy was coming from.