Packers, Vikings fit to be tied

Flynn rallies Green Bay to 26-26 OT tie while Lions, Bears both upset Sunday
The Green Bay Packers didn’t win a game they felt they should have but still managed to pick up a half-game on the NFC North leaders.
What a crazy season it has been.
The Packers’ 26-26 tie with Minnesota Sunday at Lambeau Field was a microcosm of Green Bay’s 5-5-1 season. It illustrated the need for a backup quarterback with command of the offensive play-book. It appears now that signing Matt Flynn earlier would have been a wise decision, but hindsight is 20-20.
There is no doubt that Flynn’s ability to run the no-huddle and his familiarity with the system and personnel gives Green Bay a better chance to win.
Flynn may be able to lead the Packers to a Thanksgiving Day upset of the Lions in Detroit. If not, the Packers may regret not signing and playing Flynn soon enough to perhaps beat Philadelphia, the Giants or Minnesota.
The Packers’ other concern is its defense. When push came to shove, the Vikings were able to move the ball far easier than they should have. The D did shut down Minnesota three times in the 4th quarter, allowing Flynn and company time to stage a dramatic comeback, but they could not repeat that in OT. Fortunately, they had enough to avoid allowing a game-winning touchdown. It was disconcerting to watch Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart run with the ease they did.
So, the defense, and in particular the run defense, remains an area of great concern. The Packers’ defense seemed to struggle even with eight defenders in the box. As far the passing defense, against a more accurate QB (Christian Ponder missed on several open receivers) the Vikings might have had this game wrapped up. In fairness, the Packers were missing key players – Jolly, Shields, Hayward, etal, plus Clay Matthews is still hampered with the awkward cast on his broken thumb.
It was very encouraging to see Flynn take over for Scott Tolzien and help the Packers erase a 16-point fourth quarter deficit. Flynn threw for 218 yards but failed to convert in the red zone late in the fourth quarter and again in overtime. With more playing and practice time (he had 4 snaps he said with the first team offense in practice last week), that should improve.
The comeback staged is almost miraculous considering the circumstances and Flynn’s lack of time being integrated into the offense in the few weeks since re-joining the team.
A tie is preferable to a loss because Green Bay still controls its destiny. If the Packers win out they would capture the NFC North title. It may seem improbable. Then again, who thought the Buccaneers would stop the Lions 24-21 at Detroit? Who thought the Rams would hammer the Bears 42-21 in St. Louis?
The season isn’t over, especially if Aaron Rodgers returns in time for the Packers’ Dec. 8 game against Atlanta. Still, the Packers’ tie with the Vikings was disappointing.
“It’s an empty feeling,” McCarthy said. “You go out there and didn’t lose the game … but you feel like you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do.”
The Packers have a quick turnaround to prepare for the Lions. Perhaps they will be able to find the momentum they need based on the 16-point comeback, even though it ended in a tie. Detroit (6-5) certainly isn’t invincible, even on Thanksgiving Day.
There is still a chance to write a very happy ending to the season. The return of Mr. Rodgers now seems to be on the near horizon. That happy ending will be far more likely with a Thanksgiving victory in Detroit.
And another great positive: the Packers’ Eddie Lacy continues to play at a high level. He rushed 25 times for 110 yards and a touchdown. He also caught six passes for 48 yards. With Flynn’s guidance, and Lacy’s explosiveness, the Packers should be able to score on Detroit’s defense.
Of critical importance will be the Packers’ special teams’ units kick and punt coverage and the defense’s ability to harass Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford into game-changing mistakes.
It could happen. Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s watch some exciting football.

Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio ( Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.