Packers quarterback Matt Flynn reacts after a fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Matt Flynn’s performance in leading the Green Bay Packers to a 37-36 come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Cowboys was as surreal to him as it probably was to everyone who witnessed it.
“What a feeling,” the Texas-raised sixth-year quarterback said after the game. “We were all just kind of sitting around at the end taking knees, we’re like, ‘Is this real, is this happening?’ ”
It was real, all right, and just as unlikely.
Trailing 26-3, the Packers limped into halftime having produced 132 total yards, 34 of them coming on the final, meaningless play of the first half. Flynn had thrown an interception, was sacked twice and was the victim of some dropped passes.
“I played pretty poorly in the first half,” he said. “I wasn’t really getting a rhythm and I was kind of having a little difficulty seeing the field. In that first half, I was still sticking on the first one or two guys too long, waiting for them to get open.”
Flynn and others said the frustration level was high in that halftime locker room, and that a rally from a 23-point deficit was a tall order.
“We knew there was a chance we could do it,” Flynn said about a comeback, “but I think more of the conversation at halftime was, ‘Let’s be men right now. Let’s be men and let’s show what we’re made of, show our pride, and go out there and execute the way we know how to.’
“Some was said about winning, but we told each other was that we had to look down deep and dig ourselves out of the hole from the first half, playing so bad. So, that says a lot about our guys.”
Whatever it was, it worked, and it worked right away. On the first play of the second half, Eddie Lacy broke loose on a 60-yard run out of an inverted wishbone formation. Three plays later, Jordy Nelson made a spectacular catch in the left corner of the end zone, reaching over the defender for a touchdown.
“That first drive of the second half, we busted a big run,” Flynn said. “We take a lot of pride in our running game here. For us to get that big run, we all kind of felt momentum and then we got a touchdown a couple plays later.”
That would be the first of five straight possessions that ended in touchdowns. And it was Flynn and Lacy who did most of the damage.
Flynn, starting for the third straight week, completed 26 of 39 passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns. His 113.1 quarterback rating was the Packers’ fourth best this season.
Lacy surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 141 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown.
On the second series of the second half, Flynn converted twice on third-and-long and capped the drive with a 3-yard slant to tight end Andrew Quarless. On the next series, Flynn again connected with Quarless on third down to keep the drive alive, then found James Starks on a quick pass near the line of scrimmage for an 11-yard touchdown.
Quarless is becoming a favorite target of Flynn. The fourth-year tight end caught six passes for 66 yards for the second straight week.
“He’s been big the last two weeks and we need him,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We need him. I’m very proud of him, specifically, coming off that injury (two years ago) — significant knee injury in New York, and sometimes it takes you a full year to recover from those types of things. He’s been big for us.”
After a Dallas touchdown took back some of the momentum from the Packers, Flynn engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to James Jones. Again, Flynn found Quarless on third down, this time for 14 yards on third-and-6.
A Sam Shields interception gave Green Bay the ball back at midfield, and seven plays later, the Packers had their first lead of the game, 37-36, when Lacy dove into the end zone from 1 yard out behind a B.J. Raji block. Tramon Williams’ interception on Dallas’ next possession sealed the victory.
“Hey, I can’t say enough about Matt Flynn,” McCarthy said. “Matt just stays the course. If you know Matt, his disposition, he’s a tough guy, a gym-rat-type professional athlete. He’s going to make plays. He’s not going to take a bunch of chances. Can make plays with his feet. He managed the game very well.”
Now, the Packers are hoping this newfound confidence in the offense will continue over the next two weeks of the regular season, regardless of whether Flynn is ultimately replaced by a healthy Aaron Rodgers.
“There were a lot of guys saying that our season was on the line,” Jones said, “ ‘Let’s go out there and play with some heart. We can’t go out like this.’
“Guys responded. We went out there in the second half and played an outstanding half of football in all three phases. It was unbelievable. I’m glad I’m a part of it.”
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