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Packers quarterback Matt Flynn engineered a comeback victory over Atlanta Sunday at Lambeau Field.
By DREW OLSON
GREEN BAY — We’ve all had bad days at work.
Remember the time your breakfast burrito oozed on to your dress shirt before a big presentation? When you mistakenly congratulated a co-worker — who it turns out is not pregnant? The day you misplaced the Penske file?
Think back to your worst day… was it nationally televised?
Matt Flynn’s was.
Green Bay’s backup quarterback was battered — physically and mentally — during a crushing 30-point loss on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit that put the Packers’ playoff hopes on life support.
“Last Thursday was a bad day at the office,” Flynn said. “That’s the only way to look at it. You don't really go back and look at the film and try to really learn from that one. We got our butts kicked all over the field, and that’s one of those games that you just forget about and move on and don’t think about it.”
There is something to be said for a short memory. With temperatures in the teens and Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines for a fifth straight start, Flynn guided the Packers to a 22-21 over Atlanta Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
“It feels good to, offensively, be able to move the ball and complete some passes,” said Flynn, who shook off a bizarre “pick-6” interception at the end of the first half, boos from the faithful going into halftime and a handful of sacks in a 24-for-32, 258-yard performance that included a 12-point comeback capped by a 2-yard TD to Andrew Quarless.
“For me, personally, it definitely helps confidence in myself and it definitely helps confidence in the team around me. We’re excited that this wasn’t an offensive win, or a defensive win, or a special teams win. This was a complete team win.
“I think that’s why you saw the smiles coming off the field and in the locker room, and I think that’s what we’re most excited about is that when we had to have a stop, we got the stops. When we had to have a score, we got the scores. It’s one of those things that as a team we feel really good about.”
The Packers will take a 6-6-1 record into Dallas next week. Rodgers, who is coming back from a broken collarbone, may or may not be back when they do.
“I know he’s itching to get out there and with him out there, obviously it gives us our best chance to make this run,” said Flynn, who likened Rodgers to a “big brother.”
What advice did Rodgers impart during the game Sunday?
“Some things are personal things, but he just talks about how happy he is for me and happiest when I get up there and have some success,” Flynn said. “He’s always had my back and he’s one of those guys I’m really thankful for.”
The Falcons were plenty thankful when Sean Weatherspoon’s 71-yard interception return gave them a 21-10 just before halftime.
Flynn’s pass was tipped at the line by Falcons defensive tackle Peria Jerry, bounced off linebacker Paul Warrilow’s foot and into the arms of Weatherspoon, who rumbled past several spectating Packers, broke a tackle by T.J. Lang and lumbered into the end zone.
“Just one of those crazy, weird plays," Flynn said. “I think we all thought it was incomplete. I think most of us thought - maybe we were hearing things – but most of us thought we heard a whistle and just kind of stopped. We didn’t really know what was going on but in no way did we think they had an interception or anything like that. But it’s a weird play, bouncing off a guy’s foot and right to a guy. To be able to overcome that and move the ball and just put that behind us, I think this team’s mentally strong in putting bad things behind us.”
The Packers rebounded with Flynn hitting some key passes, including a 46-yard deep ball to Jordy Nelson and some key strikes to tight end Andrew Quarless.
“The thing about Matt is he’s always very calm, and that’s great to have an in a guy that’s running your offense,” tight end Ryan Taylor said. “It’s great to have a guy in the huddle that’s even-keeled. Whether you’re down by 11 or you’re up by 1 and needing a first down to win the game, he’s always the same guy. It’s nice to have a guy like that in the huddle. It keeps everybody calm. It keeps everybody going.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy praised Flynn, too.
“I thought Matt played well,” McCarthy said. “I mean, you look at his stats.He had the interception on the fluke play, hit the big-shot play to Jordy. Frankly, (we) should have probably given him more opportunities to do that. Sometimes you get to those things more than you like, and sometimes you don’t. He did an excellent job in the no-huddle. Start the game there with a 19-play drive, or 18-play drive plus the one penalty. So, I was very pleased with the way Matt Flynn played today.”
Flynn’s use of the tight ends was cited by several players as a key factor in the victory.
“(We were) giving them some good, clean routes that they can run that they’re real familiar with and they did a good job of getting open,” Flynn said. “Andrew (Quareless) played a great game. When you’ve got teams that are locking on Jordy and things like that, you’ve got to really utilize your tight ends. So, we gave them a chance to make plays and they did it.”
As a result, the Packers will head into the work week with their playoff works still alive.
“We know we’re a good team,” Flynn said. “We know that we can play with anybody in the NFL. We’ve got talented guys, we’ve got guys who care and will leave it all out there. When we were down, this is the NFL.
"It’s hard to get wins in the NFL. They’re a good team over there, and I know they’ve had their struggles, but I think they would say the same thing. They’d say they’re a better team than what their record shows. They came out here and played hard and adapted to the cold well and made it real hard on us. But hopefully this gives us a little momentum going forward."