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Flynn earns high marks in first start for Packers

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 20, 2010 @ 3:51 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

In his first major test at the pro level after primarily carrying a clipboard the past three seasons, the consensus is that QB Matt Flynn passed with flying colors in an impressive 251-yard, three-TD performance in the Packers’ 31-27 loss to the Patriots Sunday evening. Making probable league MVP lock Tom Brady look like an afterthought, Flynn forced a national TV audience to pay close attention to his poised starting debut in Foxborough that came up just a tad short of an improbable Green Bay upset.

Unfortunately for Flynn, what most of those watching will probably remember most from his first pro start was his failure to get a possible game-winning play off in the waning moments. But Packers head coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t about to come down hard on Flynn, who wasted precious ticks on the clock before getting sacked and fumbling on the hectic final play of the game.

“It was either first down or fourth down,” McCarthy said in his postgame press conference. “The clock was running. There were 20, 21 seconds left. You have to see at that point if it’s a first down. It wasn’t clear right away. So on 4th-and-1 you take a shot.

“Matt operated it properly.”

Flynn operated properly and then some on more than a few occasions. Aaron Rodgers, who was not sufficiently recovered from the concussion he suffered in Week 14, couldn’t have engineered the Packers’ crisp 13-play, 82-yard scoring drive that gave the Packers a 17-7 second-quarter lead any better than Flynn, who calmly converted four third downs on the drive.

Flynn was equally sharp on the two possessions following his ill-timed interception that was returned for a TD by New England’s Kyle Arrington on the first possession of the third quarter, directing drives culminated by John Kuhn’s six-yard TD catch (13 plays, 69 yards) and Matt Crosby’s 19-yard field goal (11 plays, 53 yards) that enabled Green Bay to retake the lead and dominate the clock.

“I feel like we did some good things,” Flynn said after the game. “We thought we matched up with them pretty well offensively. The plan did not change because I was in there.”

The PFW Spin

Obviously, the master plan this Sunday in a must-win game against the Giants at Lambeau Field is for Rodgers to be back under center. McCarthy said he would have a better idea by Wednesday on the status of Rodgers, who looked pretty clear-headed on the sideline wearing a headset while cheering Flynn on.

But should Rodgers be cleared to play and show any lingering effects at all from his most recent concussion this Sunday, the Packers likely won’t hesitate to switch to Flynn after his statement-making effort against the league’s best team. Flynn has been highly regarded behind the scenes for a while now, but he is no longer a well-kept secret after doing a lot more good things than bad the past two weeks in place of Rodgers.

As for the Packers, the task at hand couldn’t be more clear-cut. If they can beat the Giants this Sunday and then the Bears one week later at Lambeau Field — in what could be shaping up as a signature matchup in one of the league’s fiercest rivalries — they will be assured of making the playoffs.

If they can continue to play the way they did Sunday night — coming up with well-timed gambles like their opening onside kick against New England and effectively complementing their passing game with a solid ground game — they should be in decent shape.

In any event, with all six of their losses this season by four points or fewer, the odds are strong that they will at least remain competitive in their remaining regular-season games right down to the wire if need be.

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