Stats & Info: Matt Flynn

Keys to victory: Packers 37, Cowboys 36

December, 15, 2013
What were the keys to the Green Bay Packers' improbable comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday?

The Cowboys chose not to run with the lead
The Cowboys entered the second half with a 26-3 lead and DeMarco Murray had 93 yards rushing on 11 carries.

Despite the big lead and success on the ground, the Cowboys ran by design on only seven of their 30 second-half plays (23 percent).

The league-average play call when leading this season is 53 percent pass, 47 percent run. The Cowboys entered Sunday with the second-lowest run percentage when ahead—37 percent.

The Cowboys averaged just as many yards on rushes as dropbacks in the first half. In the second half, the Cowboys averaged 1.9 yards more on rushes.

Packers perfection
The Packers scored a touchdown on all five of their second-half drives.

They are the fourth team with five touchdowns in a half this season, joining the Eagles, Chiefs and Broncos, who did it twice.

The Cowboys allowed five touchdowns in a half for the first time since a 49-21 loss to the Eagles in the 2004 season.

The key to this was that the Packers went 6 of 7 on third down in the second half, with the only “failed” conversion being Matt Flynn's kneeldown to end the game.

The Packers went 1 of 6 on third down in the first half, with the only conversion being a screen pass on the final play of the half

Flynn was 5 for 5 for 75 yards and a touchdown on his third-down passes in the final 30 minutes.

Eddie Lacy rushed for 110 yards on 13 carries in the second half, including a 60-yard run on the first play of the third quarter. He had seven straight runs in the fourth quarter that gained at least three yards, prior to his one-yard touchdown run.

Romo’s interceptions
Tony Romo threw a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter, one with the lead and one that clinched the game for the Packers.

This is the seventh time Romo has thrown a pick in the fourth quarter or overtime with his team tied or leading by one possession. That is nearly twice as many as any other QB since 2006 (when Romo became the starter in Dallas).

Romo is now tied with Tom Brady for the most 4th-quarter interceptions this season (four) when the score is within five points.

How unusual was the first pass resulting in an interception that Romo threw, one that came on a second-down situation?

Since 2001, teams have rushed the ball 95 percent of the time (3,061 rushes on 3,234 snaps) on first or second down when leading by one to seven points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.

The significance of the comeback
This marked the first time in franchise history that the Cowboys lost a game in which they led by 20 or more points at the half. Entering Sunday, they were 42-0 in such games.

The 23-point comeback tied the Packers' largest comeback in franchise history (Sept. 12, 1982 against the Rams. They trailed 23-0 and won 35-23).

Keys to victory: rushing and pass rush

November, 28, 2013

Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsReggie Bush had more yards from scrimmage than the Packers offense in Thursday's win.

The Detroit Lions made a statement with their 40-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Most notably, it snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak, which was the longest such losing streak in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was also just the Lions' fourth 30-point win in 75 all-time Thanksgiving games, and the first since a 35-point win over the Chicago Bears in 1997.

The Lions finished with a 435-yard advantage over the Packers in total offense (561-126). That’s their largest single-game yard margin in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Lions running backs Reggie Bush (182) and Joique Bell (128) both finished with more yards from scrimmage than the entire Packers offense.

The yardage discrepancy was especially evident in the rushing game. The Lions finished with 241 rushing yards, the Packers had 24 and were held without a rushing first down for the first time since 1990. Lions rushers were hit in the backfield twice on 40 designed rushes. On the other side, Packers rushers were hit in the backfield on five of their 13 designed rushes.

Much like the rushing game, the Lions pass rush was excellent, recording seven sacks on Matt Flynn, including one for a safety. Only two teams have recorded more sacks in a game this season than the Lions today: the Chiefs (nine vs. the Raiders in Week 6) and the Jets (eight vs. the Bills in Week 3).

Of course, Lions WR Calvin Johnson was his usual self, with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown. He has caught a touchdown in five straight and six of his seven career Thanksgiving Day games. It’s his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season, most in the NFL, although Jimmy Graham and A.J. Green could match him this week.

Detroit picked up the win despite four turnovers, becoming the first team to win by at least 30 despite having four or more turnovers since the 2001 Rams, who beat the Panthers by 34 even with four turnovers. Those Rams finished 14-2 and went to the Super Bowl.

Turnovers have been a problem for the Lions all season long, as a -1 turnover differential Thursday dropped them to -8 on the season. But a team making the playoffs despite a turnover differential that bad isn’t unprecedented by any means.

Each of the last three seasons, at least one team with a turnover differential of -8 or worse has made the playoffs, including the Indianapolis Colts last season (-12). However, none of those teams advanced past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Rodgers ignores pressure, throws 6 TD

October, 15, 2012
Aaron Rodgers
Entering Sunday, Aaron Rodgers had just 10 touchdown passes through five games this season. He had a coming out party against the Houston Texans, tossing six touchdowns on Sunday night alone.

That tied the Green Bay Packers franchise record for most in a single game -- set last season by Matt Flynn.

Five of Rodgers’ six touchdowns came against five or more pass rushers, marking the first time this season that a quarterback has thrown at least four touchdowns against extra pressure in a single game.

Rodgers is the only quarterback to throw five touchdown passes without an interception against five-or-more pass rushers since the start of the 2008 season.

Rodgers also racked up 338 yards as he recorded the fifth game in NFL history with 330 pass yards, six pass touchdowns and zero interceptions (Tom Brady twice, Mark Rypien and Y.A. Tittle).

Those eye popping numbers led him to a 95.8 Total QBR. That is Rodgers’ best in 2012 and 18th game with a Total QBR of 90 or more over the last five seasons (T-most in the NFL).

Rodgers completed half of his pass attempts and had four touchdowns on throws that traveled at least 15 yards downfield.

That was a huge improvement because entering Week 6, Rodgers had the third-lowest completion percentage on throws of that distance among qualified quarterbacks.

James Jones and Jordy Nelson were the two biggest recipients of Rodgers’ performance.

Jones notched his third straight game with multiple touchdown catches, tying Don Hutson's franchise record set in 1943.

Nelson caught three touchdowns for the second time in his career. He’s needs one more game with three receiving touchdowns to match Sterling Sharpe for the most in franchise history since 1960.

Next week the Packers play the 3-3 St. Louis Rams on the road. Meanwhile the Texans, who allowed six passing touchdowns for the first time in franchise history, will host the Baltimore Ravens.

Packers QBs not just Favre, Rodgers

April, 23, 2012

Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesBrett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have been the faces of the Packers, but did you know they have selected 11 quarterbacks in the NFL Draft since 1993? That is the most in the league.
Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft later this week by taking a look at draft strategies over the years. Today, how the most successful teams draft the most quarterbacks.

The Green Bay Packers have had arguably the most stable quarterback situation in the NFL over the last 20 years, seamlessly moving from one franchise quarterback (Brett Favre) to another (Aaron Rodgers).

Yet since the advent of free agency in 1993 the Packers have taken more quarterbacks in the draft (11) than any team. What motivated the Packers to draft a quarterback nearly every year and what did that practice translate to in terms of on-field product?

Favre’s record-setting durability – he started every game for Green Bay from Week 4 in 1992 through the end of the 2007 season – would argue against needing to use those 11 draft picks on quarterbacks as insurance against an injury, but the Packers were able to cash in the value of the position in other ways: Three of those QBs were traded away for future draft picks, one became Favre’s successor as the franchise quarterback, and another played as a stable and effective backup.

It wasn’t a flawless plan. In fact, three of the first six quarterbacks drafted after Favre’s arrival – Jay Barker (1995, 5th round), Kyle Wachholtz (1996, 7th round) and Ron McAda (1997 7th round) – never played a down in the NFL.

But the other three – Mark Brunell (1993, 5th round), Matt Hasselbeck (1998, 6th round) and Aaron Brooks (1999, 4th round) – were used in trades that brought the Packers three third-round picks, one first-round pick and one fifth-round pick.

Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesMatt Flynn’s Week 17 performance last year helped him land a free agent contract with Seattle this offseason.

Green Bay’s next three quarterbacks drafted showed mixed results. Craig Nall (2002, 5th round) and Ingle Martin (2006, 5th round) attempted a combined total of 48 passes for the Packers and soon were out of the league.

But the next quarterback Green Bay selected, Aaron Rodgers (2005, 1st round) led the Packers to their latest Super Bowl championship (XLV).

In April 2008, months before Rodgers became Green Bay’s starter, the Packers selected two more quarterbacks – Brian Brohm in the second round and Matt Flynn in the seventh.

Brohm was waived after that season and hooked on as a backup in Buffalo, but Flynn capped his seasons as Rodgers’ backup with six touchdown passes and nearly 500 passing yards against the Lions in Week 17 last season.

That performance made Flynn a hot commodity in the offseason and he signed a lucrative contract with the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers will receive a compensatory pick in next year’s draft because of Flynn’s exit.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt LudtkeDepite only two career starts, Matt Flynn is likely going to be some team's starting QB in 2012.
After having the best season of his career, Alex Smith is expected to re-sign with the San Francisco 49ers.

One question about the former No. 1 overall pick is whether Smith can replicate what he did in 2011 on an annual basis. The question facing Matt Flynn, another quarterback about to hit the open market, is can he perform at a high level from week-to-week.

Aaron Rodgers' backup the last four seasons, Flynn has made only two starts. However, he threw for 731 yards in those two starts -- only Cam Newton threw for more yards in his first two starts in NFL history.

From 2008-10, Flynn completed less than half of his passes outside the field numbers (17-36). In 2011, Flynn was 14-of-19 on throws outside the numbers.

There are several big-name receivers in this year’s free agent class. Reggie Wayne is one of them, and while he’s been linked to whatever team Peyton Manning signs with, he will be a valuable addition wherever he goes.

Not only does Wayne lead the NFL in receptions, yards and touchdowns since 2003, but he’s started 145 consecutive regular-season games, the third-longest active streak by an offensive player.

Marques Colston and Vincent Jackson are big targets who are reliable and can stretch the field.

Since his rookie season in 2006, Colston ranks among the NFL’s top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. He’s also had at least 1,000 yards receiving in five of his six seasons. (Randy Moss is the only player in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first six seasons.)

Jackson became one of the best deep threats in seven seasons with the San Diego Chargers. Since 2008, Jackson’s 18.0 yards per reception is third in the NFL (minimum 100 receptions), and his 37 receptions on throws longer than 20 yards downfield ranks fourth in the NFL.

Vincent Jackson
Colston caught nearly 77 percent of his targets last season, the best percentage among any wide receiver in the league (minimum 50 targets).

Jackson’s teammate with the Chargers, Mike Tolbert, is one of a handful of running backs who might be looking elsewhere in order to find more playing time.

Sharing time with Ryan Mathews, Tolbert has 19 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons, including a league-high 10 one-yard scores. And in 2011, no player had more rushing touchdowns up the middle than Tolbert’s six (Newton and Ray Rice also had six).

If Colston goes elsewhere, he might not even be the Saints biggest loss this offseason. Free agent Carl Nicks played every offensive snap last season, including playoffs, all at left guard. The Saints averaged 6.6 yards per rush to the left last season, second-best in the NFL.

Record-breaking night for Brady

December, 20, 2010
It wasn't the most explosive performance of Tom Brady's career as he led the Patriots to a 31-27 win over the Packers, but it was enough to set a couple of NFL records.

Tom Brady
Brady completed 15 of 24 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. That marks the seventh straight game with at least two passing touchdowns and zero interceptions, breaking a tie with Don Meredith for the longest such streak all-time. Brady has thrown 292 straight passes without an interception which also sets an NFL record for a single season. Bernie Kosar holds the longest streak spanning multiple seasons with 308 passes without an interception.

And for good measure, Brady also extended his own NFL record by winning his 27th straight regular-season home game.

Entering Week 15, Brady led the NFL in touchdowns and passer rating on throws of fewer than 15 yards downfield. Sunday night, Brady was matched up against the NFL's best defense against such throws. Helped by two touchdowns on throws of 14 yards or fewer, Brady posted a 110.6 passer rating on "short" throws - the best rating against the Packers this season.

With the inexperienced Matt Flynn starting at quarterback for the Packers, the Patriots dialed up blitz pressure to disrupt the Packers pass protection. The Patriots rushed five or more defenders on 17 of Flynn's dropbacks, the team's second-highest pressure total this season. The added pass pressure resulted in Flynn's only interception as well as four of the Patriots' five sacks.

The Patriots fell behind by 10 points in the 2nd quarter following a Greg Jennings TD catch with 2:20 left in the 1st half, but the ensuing kickoff was picked up by Dan Connolly, a Patriots offensive lineman who returned it for 71 yards, leading to a touchdown. Connolly's rumble is the longest kickoff return by an offensive lineman in NFL history.