In the grand scheme of things, the Packers' wild-and-crazy 45-41 victory over the Lions in Week 17 might have been relatively meaningless, with the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs fully guaranteed before the opening gun. But the game certainly meant a lot to Green Bay backup QB Matt Flynn, who no doubt earned himself a free-agent bonanza with a blockbuster, record-setting performance that was the last thing anybody expected on the final regular-season Sunday.
By outdueling Detroit's Matthew Stafford in a shootout of massive proportions (1,000 gross passing yards, 971 net passing yards and 11 passing touchdowns combined), the 26-year-old Flynn figures to be most attractive free agent this offseason after establishing new single-season team records with six TD passes (three to WR Jordy Nelson) and 480 passing yards. Look for Flynn to follow in the footsteps of Kevin Kolb, the former backup to Michael Vick in Philadelphia, who struck it rich this past offseason after being traded to Arizona.
Flynn was breathtakingly efficient in an unlikely barn burner on a cold, windy Wisconsin afternoon that featured no fewer than 11 lead changes. Breaking a string of 21 straight starts by likely league MVP Aaron Rodgers, who was given the day off along with a host of key Packers performers, Flynn made every throw in the Packers' extensive playbook and operated flawlessly out of the no-huddle. In the two starts in his four-year career — his first one was an impressive prime-time effort in defeat late last season in place of an injured Rodgers — Flynn has registered a 9-2 TD-interception ratio and solidified his status as an up-and-coming starter who league observers believe could be coveted by at least seven teams in need of a quality signalcaller.
The PFW spin
While Flynn's fantastic effort was a glittering highlight of the highest order in the Packers' regular-season swan song, the Packers' Swiss-cheese defense was a lowlight that could not be ignored. To his credit, Stafford was every bit as amazing as Flynn, making one perfect throw after another into the tightest of windows. But the Packers' secondary, particularly CB Tramon Williams, continued to struggle mightily — a bad omen for the playoffs if there ever was one.
After looking like arguably the best cornerback in the game a year ago at this time, Williams has become one of the weaker links in a defense that continues to barely get by, only because of its propensity for takeaways. It no doubt didn't help matters that head coach Mike McCarthy decided to make star defenders Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson healthy scratches in Week 17. But even without them on the field, the lack of defense by Dom Capers' unit was disturbing.
Is it really possible that a unit which has given up a franchise-record 4,796 passing yards (299.8 per game) and finished dead last in the league in total defense with 6,585 yards allowed can survive in a postseason overflowing with strong-armed QBs capable of doing major damage, including Stafford?
We'll find out soon enough, when the Packers open up their postseason Jan. 15 at Lambeau Field. For the time being, they can rest on their laurels, finishing a season unbeaten within its division for the first time in its 45-year history.
On Sunday, Flynn, who has to be considered arguably the best backup QB in the business at the moment, managed to make that tremendous accomplishment a mere footnote.