Green Bay Packers fans: Take a Deep Breath, Week 12


Mason Crosby kicks a field goal against Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams and defensive tackle Letroy Guion. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Well, all right, Green Bay Packers fans! How about that stirring fourth-quarter comeback to force overtime and secure a … tie. A tie? Really? Pucker up, sis. Comin’ at you.

Yep, Packers Nation watched together as the first two-plus quarters unfolded like an NFC North nightmare, as the Packers flubbed their way to a 23-7 deficit, making it look to all the world that the season was finally over. And then, out of nowhere, rode in our hero, Matt Flynn, to spark the offense and save the day.

Well, sort of.

After driving the ball to the Minnesota Vikings’ 2 yard line on the first possession of overtime, the Packers settled for a Mason Crosby chipshot for a 3-point lead, giving the Vikes a chance to tie or win the game under the year-old new overtime rules (Yes, in 2011, that game would have been a Packers win).

OK, fine. Tease us with some sibling smooching. The fact is, the Packers’ defense just seemed to wear out. A five-quarter game is a rare beast, and the boys in green and gold had been chasing Adrian Peterson all over the field all afternoon. After some incredible stops in the fourth quarter to help make the comeback possible, the defense got gouged by the Minnesota running game – and not even by Peterson. No, it was career backup Toby Gerhart who did the most damage on that Vikings field goal drive in overtime.

When it was all said and done, the two running backs finished with 237 yards and a Peterson touchdown.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn led a stirring comeback on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

They were low times indeed, especially after Flynn’s heart-stopping command of the comeback. The Packers almost – almost – looked like an Aaron Rodgers-directed squad. Well, if you squinted, they did. And now they’ve got a bizarre looking 5-5-1 record, a half game back of the Lions and Bears, who tried their very best to back into a three-way tie for the division lead by losing.

Yeesh. But wait – don’t toss in the towel yet. That tie could end up helping us anyway. A lot needs to happen, but the Packers aren’t out of this thing yet. So relax, grab a turkey leg, and take a deep breath.

Reason for concern: I thought for sure Rodgers would be ready for the Thanksgiving game.

Reason to take a deep breath: Yeah, that was always a longshot. Better to make sure he heals and hope for the best than to risk a long-term injury. We’re paying the guy a lot of jack. Flynn gets to prepare as the starter this week, and he knows this team (see also: Jan. 1, 2012). By the way, this just in: The Lions have a pretty sorry pass defense and have lately been playing a lot like … well, the Lions. I’m saying there’s a chance.

Reason for concern: Calvin Johnson.

Sam Shields

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Reason to take a deep breath: Sam Shields is back at practice in a limited fashion. Let’s just cross our fingers on that one, shall we? We need Shields and Tramon Williams playing in tandem, if only so we can get Jarrett Bush off the field more.

Reason for concern: What happened to the run defense in overtime? How does that even happen?

Reason to take a deep breath: That’s a real concern and something that has been a recurring problem for the defense – falling on its face at the wrong time. What can I say here to make everyone feel better? Um, at least Greg Jennings didn’t score?