Packers pull a Jason Maas, give ball back to Tom Brady in postseason loss

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Edmonton Football fans might be feeling a sense of déjà vu after watching the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Green Bay will watch Tom Brady try to win his seventh Super Bowl after a controversial non-gamble by Packers’ head coach Matt LaFleur.

With his team trailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 with 2:05 left on the clock and all three timeouts still in his back pocket, LaFleur faced a fourth-and-goal from the Bucs’ eight-yard line.

Rather than trust his star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, to put it in the end zone for a chance to tie with a two-point convert, Green Bay’s coach called for a short Mason Crosby field goal. His defence would then have to get the ball back from Tom Brady in the final two minutes for a chance to win.

Needless to say, the strategy failed spectacularly.

If anyone knows how Green Bay’s coach feels right now, it’s probably former Edmonton Football Team head coach Jason Maas.

The whole scene was eerily similar to what happened at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium in the 2017 West Final when the Edmonton lost out on a potential trip to the Grey Cup after a late-game non-gamble by Maas.

With the Green and Gold — they even wore the same colours as Green Bay — trailing 32-25 to the Calgary Stampeders with 2:19 left, Maas faced a decision on third-and-four from the Calgary 13-yard line.

Rather than rolling the dice with quarterback Mike Reilly — who was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player four days later — to pick up the first down and/or game-tying touchdown, Maas chose to reduce the deficit from seven points to four with a chip-shot field goal and to give the ball back to Bo Levi Mitchell with under two minutes left.

Predictably, Edmonton never got the ball back and the Stamps went on to the Grey Cup, leaving Edmonton football fans pondering what might have been.

To be fair, there’s no guarantee that LaFleur or Maas would’ve been rewarded for their fourth-down or third-down gamble, but the choice on both fronts was puzzling. Both coaches were giving up the chance to score a game-tying touchdown in exchange for a field goal with the hopes they could then get the ball back — still needing a touchdown.

LaFleur must now be feeling some regret, the same way Maas likely does from his decision three years ago.

Maas would get fired two years later and there’s a belief the now-Saskatchewan Roughriders’ offensive coordinator still hasn’t been forgiven by Edmonton fans for the controversial call and missed championship opportunity.

No one is hoping for Matt LaFleur to suffer the same fate in Green Bay, but if Jason Maas hasn’t recovered from his 2017 gaffe yet, he can relax a little more today in knowing he’s not alone and has some elite company from south of the border.

Also, shout out to the witty person who runs Edmonton’s Twitter account. This tweet from Sunday afternoon was brilliant.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.