Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn scrambles in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Opening on the road
Since 1950, the nine Packers quarterbacks whose first NFL starts came in road games.
Rate Quarterback Opponent Date Final
100.2 Matt Flynn Patriots 12-19-2010 L 31-27
98.1 Alan Risher Vikings 10-4-1987 W 23-16
93.9 Jerry Tagge Patriots 11-18-1973 L 33-24
67.5 Joe Francis* Rams 12-14-1958 L 34-20
66.7 Randy Wright* Bears 12-9-1984 W 20-14
57.7 Don Milan* Bears 11-9-1975 L 27-14
39.6 Jim Del Gaizo* Vikings 9-30-1973 L 11-3
28.5 David Whitehurst Redskins 11-21-1977 L 10-9
18.5 Don Horn* Steelers 11-2-1969 W 38-34
* -- Did not play entire game
More than 1,000 miles separate Gillette Stadium from the city of Green Bay. For a Packers quarterback making his first NFL start, it’s a remote, indifferent setting in which to conduct business.
Matt Flynn became the ninth Packers quarterback to have his first start come on the road in the last 60 years. Unlike many of the eight who went before him, his performance was inspired to the last play.
Flynn, with just 46 career pass attempts to his name, opened at quarterback on Sunday night against the mighty New England Patriots. A seventh-round draft choice in 2008, Flynn came within a whisker of pulling off an upset before getting dumped on the final play in a 31-27 loss to the team with the best record in football.
Tabbed as the starter to replace Aaron Rodgers, who was ruled out with a concussion, Flynn completed 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. The third-year pro was intercepted once.
First starts by quarterbacks have become a rarity in Green Bay. Brett Favre did it in 1992 and Rodgers succeeded him in 2008.
Both had the benefit of playing at Lambeau Field. Flynn was afforded no such luxury.
He, like eight before him since 1950, was called to action in unfamiliar surroundings. From Joe Francis scrambling often to avoid trouble in Los Angeles in 1958 to Randy Wright sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Chicago in December 1984, quarterbacking on the road can be a harsh proposition.
Flynn made it look easy, at least in the first half. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns to earn a passer rating of 123.1. That number would have been higher had Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver not each dropped a pass in the second quarter.
But those numbers tell only part of the story. Flynn was sharp on third down, helping keep the Patriots' Tom Brady off the field. He also spread the wealth, hitting eight different receivers in the opening two quarters.
Flynn hit six straight third-down passes after pressure prevented him from completing his first. He had a perfect rating (158.3) on that down, which included a 66-yard scoring toss to receiver James Jones that gave Green Bay a 10-7 lead.
The Packers were 6-of-9 on third downs in the first half. That success led to 17 minutes and 40 seconds of possession.
Playing keepaway took on epic proportions in the third quarter. Green Bay held the ball for 13:46 but Flynn threw an interception that cornerback Kyle Arrington returned for a touchdown and a 21-17 Patriots lead.
Flynn put Green Bay back on top with two scoring drives. He tossed a 6-yard TD pass to fullback John Kuhn to cap a 12-play, 69-yard drive and then directed a 10-play drive that ended with a 19-yard Mason Crosby field goal.
Brady erased that 27-21 deficit by driving the Patriots to a field goal and then finding tight end Aaron Hernandez for a TD midway through the fourth quarter.
Flynn had two possessions to try to bring the Packers back. The first was halted after a deep third-down throw to tight end Andrew Quarless went incomplete. The second ended after Flynn was sacked by linebacker Tully Banta-Cain on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots' 15-yard line.
Of the nine Packers quarterbacks to make their first NFL starts on the road, Flynn became the first to earn a triple-digit passer rating. His mark of 100.2 was a couple of points higher than Alan Risher’s 98.1, which was compiled in a game played during the 1987 players' strike.
With Flynn starting, Rodgers' streak of 45 straight regular-season starts ended. It had tied Bart Starr for the second longest in team history. Starr started the last four games of 1963 and didn’t stop until Zeke Bratkowski got the nod in the final game of 1966.
Eric Goska is a Green Bay Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.