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Monday, November 25, 2013
Upon Further Review: Packers Week 12

By Rob Demovsky

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A review of four hot issues from the Green Bay Packers' 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday:

Too early for two: Mike McCarthy became the latest in a long line of coaches who made the mistake of trying a two-point conversion too early in the game. The Packers coach made the call with 11:42 remaining after Eddie Lacy's 3-yard touchdown run cut the Vikings' lead to 23-13. McCarthy gave away one sure point, and quarterback Matt Flynn couldn't convert on a throw to tight end Andrew Quarless. The Packers got two more possessions and scored a touchdown (and kicked the extra point) with 3:30 left and then kicked a field goal with 46 seconds left. That field goal, which forced overtime, would have been the go-ahead points had McCarthy gone for the PAT earlier. "I think once you cross that fourth quarter like you've got to look at the whole picture -- how many series were available to you at that time, obviously what was going on on the headsets just getting ready for each series on offense, the way they were running the football on defense, you're playing at home is a positive because you've got to the crowd behind you," McCarthy said. "I'm comfortable with the decision. We had a good play. Frankly, I wish had a couple more reps in that play; I think it would have been a little clearer for [Flynn]. So I thought it was a solid decision."

Matt Flynn
Matt Flynn has a better grasp of the Packers offense than Scott Tolzien.
More for Flynn: It didn't take long for Flynn to show how much better versed in the Packers offense he is than Scott Tolzien. On the second play of Flynn's first series in relief of Tolzien in the third quarter, he had a run-pass option play and checked to the run. The play went for 34 yards when James Starks ran off right tackle. On the next series, the Packers went to the no-huddle offense, something they did with Tolzien only in two-minute situations. "I've always been comfortable here in this offense making the checks, making the audibles," Flynn said. "I kind of know what the coaches are looking for run-wise. Definitely need to study and get more familiarized with what we're trying to get accomplished but there was definitely, they gave me the freedom. They said, 'Are you comfortable with no-huddle?' And I said, 'Yeah, let's get it rolling.' We had some success doing that. But not enough." Though McCarthy wouldn't commit to a starting quarterback for Thursday's game at the Detroit Lions, it's hard to imagine him not going with Flynn if Aaron Rodgers is unavailable again because of his broken collarbone.

Lacy bounces back: The Vikings stacked the box against Lacy just like the New York Giants did a week earlier when they limited him to just 27 carries on 14 yards. This time, Lacy was a tackle-breaking machine against a similar defensive strategy by the Vikings. More than half of his yards came after contact. According to ESPN Stats & Information, 56 of Lacy's 110 rushing yards came after contact. His 4-yard gain on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter was made even more impressive by the fact that he was first hit 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Lacy also caught a season-high six passes for 48 yards, giving him 158 total yards from scrimmage. Lacy had to leave the game late in the overtime period after he had problems with his asthma, but his tackle-breaking ability elicited some of the loudest cheers from the fans at Lambeau Field and provided a boost of energy for the offense. "I think it lights a spark under Packer Nation," fullback John Kuhn said. "You hear the fans get riled up after something like that so if it jacks the fans up, you know our sideline is going to be happy."

Up-and-down defense: The Packers had a season-high six sacks, including Clay Matthews' first two-sack game of the season, and they didn't have any major coverage gaffes that led to big plays like they did against the Giants. Then again, they were playing against Christian Ponder, one of three Vikings quarterbacks to play this season. But as has been the case with this defense this season, there's almost always one major weakness. This time, it came against the run. Missed tackles were a killer. It's one thing to give up 146 yards rushing to Adrian Peterson, but it's another to let Toby Gerhart get 91 more on only eight carries. On the second-half drive in which the Vikings kicked a field goal to take a 23-7 lead, it was worth wondering whether the defense had mailed it in. "You're going to have your missed tackles against AP," Matthews said. "It always seems that he's good enough to exploit you when you're out of gaps. And that's kind of been the theme whenever we've given up too many yards rushing. I'm sure that'll be addressed. You know he's going to make his plays but not that many."