Panthers coach Ron Rivera supplied more detail Monday on the final play of Carolina's road loss to Green Bay, explaining that quarterback Kyle Allen had the option to hand the ball off to Christian McCaffrey or to throw a pass.
"It was an RPO," Rivera said, referring to the run-pass option that has become popular in the NFL over the past few years. "Based on what Kyle had read, he went to hand the ball off."
The Panthers were down 24-16 Sunday to the Packers but had the ball at Green Bay's 2 with 4 seconds remaining in regulation.
There was still a lot of work to do for a Carolina win at that point. The Panthers needed to score on that final play, then convert a two-point conversion with no time remaining and then outduel Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in overtime on a snowy Lambeau Field.
Allen's other option on the RPO? A pass to tight end Greg Olsen in the end zone. But Olsen told the Observer on Monday that Allen made the correct decision given Green Bay's defensive alignment, which wasn't overly loaded at the line of scrimmage.
"He made the right call," Olsen said of Allen. "They had five guys in there (on the defensive line). We had five blockers. Kyle was by no means wrong."
Rivera seemed to agree, saying Allen "gave it to our best player (McCaffrey). Unfortunately, we missed a block. That's really what happened."
Although Carolina had five offensive linemen blocking five defensive linemen, Green Bay linebacker Kyler Fackrell knifed inside Panthers left guard Greg Van Roten and hit McCaffrey in the backfield.
That slowed McCaffrey down enough that he was gang-tackled inches short of the goal line, even though Van Roten tried to drag his teammate over the line himself.
Van Roten was disconsolate after the game, saying of the Panthers' final 88-yard drive that needed to go about six more inches: "You just feel like you got your heart ripped out."