Well, well, well. As Green Bay Packers fans go, I feel like I’m among the most loyal. I’m willing to admit when things look bleak, but I don’t turn off the TV in disgust. I keep watching until the bitter end.
Near the end of the first half of Sunday’s thrilling, 37-36 comeback victory over the Dallas Cowboys, however, I tweeted, “This may be the last NFL game Matt Flynn plays in his career.” Yep, it was that bad. I was ready to call it a season, shut down Aaron Rodgers for good and send in Scott Tolzien to mop up the mess.
But I kept watching, and the strangest thing happened: The Packers righted the ship somehow. If you watched the game (and I’m sure you did), you know what I’m talking about: Each time the Packers drove down the field and scored, it seemed more and more unbelievable, and yet got somehow more believable at the same time.
By that I mean that the team I watched in the second half was the team I expected to come out of the locker room to start the game in the first place. Why it waited two quarters, I have no idea. But when that team finally arrived at Jerry World at halftime, it carried on its collective shoulder a mighty big chip. It looked like a team that was pissed off, and the Cowboys were simply in the way at that point.
Five straight touchdown drives and some absolutely clutch defensive stops later, and the Packers would tie a franchise record for its biggest comeback and, more importantly, live to see another meaningful game. The playoffs were still within reach, and Aaron Rodgers’ broken clavicle was a week closer to being healed.
When all the smoke had cleared, and I stopped jumping up and down, I tweeted, “Scratch what I said about Matt Flynn. He just bought himself another year or two. Wow.”
So, who is this Packers team?
Early in the season, it started hot and then couldn’t finish. For the last two weeks, it has sputtered out of the gate and then rallied to win. At halftime in Dallas, the Packers had 129 total yards of offense – 34 of which came on an Eddie Lacy screen pass as the half ended – with seven first downs and a field goal.
In the second half, the Packers put up five touchdowns with 337 yards and 20 first downs. Three of those touchdown drives went for 80 yards each. The Packers were literally unstoppable. Well, they couldn’t be stopped by the Cowboys, anyway.
With the Lions’ improbable loss to the Ravens on Monday night, we have another week of waiting and hoping. And another week of taking a few deep breaths.
Reason for concern: The Steelers aren’t great, but if we get down by 23 points to them on Sunday, we’re fried.
Reason to take a deep breath: I can’t figure out why this 2013 Packers team has such a difficult time putting two good halves together. Still, this feels to me like a team that has had an awakening. This is a team that has been tested, has passed the test, has a new sense of confidence and is about to turn a corner.
Reason for concern: If the Cowboys had kept running the ball, we’d have lost that game.
Reason to take a deep breath: That’s probably true, although we’ll never know for sure. The run defense is possibly my biggest concern about this Packers team. The good news is, I don’t think we have any reason to be scared of Pittsburgh’s O-line, and I believe the Steelers will be throwing the ball a lot. I’m going to keep hope alive that Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are back to form.
Reason for concern: Will Aaron Rodgers’ clavicle EVER heal? Geez.
Reason to take a deep breath: Yes. Yes, it will. In fact, I have a gut feeling we’ll be seeing No. 12 in uniform at Lambeau Field this Sunday. That’s just a hunch. Meanwhile, take a deep breath.