ATLANTA -- Mike McCarthy wanted an explanation on the so-called pick plays. All the Green Bay Packers coach got was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The Packers had two big plays -- a 36-yard pass to Randall Cobb in the second quarter and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Cobb -- wiped out by offensive pass interference penalties on Martellus Bennett and Geronimo Allison. In between, the Falcons may have gotten away with something similar on a 2-yard touchdown to running back Tevin Coleman on the way to Atlanta's 34-23 win.
It was after Matt Ryan's pass to Coleman, which was aided by tight end Austin Hooper interfering with safety Morgan Burnett. The block, which was outside the 1-yard allowable area, may have occurred before quarterback Matt Ryan released the ball.
"Well, I was looking for clarification on the penalty that was called on Marty Bennett and didn't get any clarification," McCarthy said of his discussion with referee Walt Anderson, who then flagged the coach. "So from that, it resulted in that situation."
Both Allison and Bennett said they weren't setting picks. Even if Bennett was, his appeared to be within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage. which would make it a legal block.
"I didn't see the guy, I was running my route," Bennett said. "He ran into me. It was incidental contact. I didn't see him. I was looking back for the ball. I was running a flat route, so I don't know. I'm not a referee."
Allison said he did not think he was guilty of pass interference.
His job, he said, was to "get open and set a natural rub."
As he talked at his locker, tight end Richard Rodgers chimed in and said: "We are allowed to pick within 1 yard. The Patriots and Saints do that all the time."
Aaron Rodgers, however, admitted Allison's play may have been a penalty, but not Bennett's. That wiped out a gain that would have put the Packers at midfield with a chance to cut into a 17-7 deficit. Instead, two plays later Rodgers threw an interception that the Falcons turned into a touchdown.
"It's 24-7 instead of 17-10 or 17-14 if we score on that drive," Rodgers said. "Then we get the ball back for the first possession of the second half. It's a different football game. I don't know how you call pass interference on that when he's running a drag route and Cobby's running a slant route. Cobby shakes the guy, and Marty's looking back at me and he gets run into.
"There are pick routes in the game. They scored on one, I think. That definitely wasn't one. It's an area of emphasis but you can't see ghosts out there. That should have been a no-call."