Sunday, December 22, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 38-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Lambeau Field:
What it means: The loss did not eliminate the Packers (7-7-1) from playoff contention, but it might be only a matter of hours before it does. If the Chicago Bears beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Sunday night game, the Bears will win the NFC North. It would make the Week 17 finale between the Packers and Bears a meaningless game from the Packers' perspective.
Stock watch: Quarterback Matt Flynn did not have another comeback in him. He turned the ball over twice. He threw an interception that cornerback Cortez Allen returned 40 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Then, with the game tied at 31-31, Flynn fumbled at the end of a scramble, giving the Steelers the ball with 1:51 left at the Packers' 17-yard line, setting up the game-winning touchdown.
Injuries galore: In a season filled with injuries, the Packers lost more playmakers against the Steelers. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews left in the second quarter with another thumb injury. On the 50th sack of his career, Matthews appeared to reinjure his right thumb, which he broke on Oct. 4. Matthews missed four games after he had surgery to place pins in his thumb. Running back Eddie Lacy dropped out in the third quarter after he reinjured his right ankle that he first sprained on Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. Linebackers Mike Neal (injury not immediately known) and Brad Jones (ankle) also did not finish the game.
Wild third quarter: In the third quarter alone, the Packers had a field goal blocked only to get the ball back and turn it into the go-ahead touchdown after the Steelers were called for illegally batting the ball out of bounds, then gave the lead right back to the Steelers, who went 68 yards on six plays, and then fell further behind when Flynn threw a pick-six. On the final play of the quarter, Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass.
What's next: The Packers close out the regular season against the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field. The game is currently scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff but could be moved under the league's flexible schedule plan for Week 17.