Matt Flynn Can Keep Packers Alive Until Aaron Rodgers Returns

Kristopher KnoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 24:  Matt Flynn #10 of the Green Bay Packers rolls out to look for a receiver against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on November 24, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Vikings and the Packers tied 26-26 after overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Since losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a fractured collarbone in Week 9, the Green Bay Packers have lacked offensive punch and identity.

First Seneca Wallace, then Scott Tolzien took turns leading the offense (Wallace is currently on IR), but the results were the same. The Rodger-less Packers entered Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings losers of three straight.

Still, Rodgers has maintained his confidence that the Packers can stay in the NFC playoff race.

With former backup Matt Flynn back in the fold, Rodgers just might be right.

Flynn, who served as the backup in Green Bay from 2008 to 2011, was re-signed by the Packers earlier this month after spending time with the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills. He was signed by the Seattle Seahawks last offseason but lost the quarterback battle to then-rookie Russell Wilson.

On Sunday, Flynn took over for an ineffective Tolzien and led the Packers back from a 20-7 third-quarter deficit to force overtime.

While Green Bay was not able to defeat the Vikings with Flynn at the helm, they didn't lose either.

That's right. Flynn led Green Bay to a 26-26 tie.

For most teams with playoff aspirations, a tie wouldn't be a desirable outcome. However, the tie puts the 5-5-1 Packers right on the heels of the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions in the NFC North division standing.

The Bears and Lions were handed losses on Sunday by the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively. 

More importantly, it appears that Green Bay has found a quarterback capable of holding down the fort until Rodgers is completely healed.

In his relief effort against Minnesota, Flynn completed 21 of 36 pass attempts for 218 yards and a touchdown. He also ran four times for 24 yards.

These numbers may not seem overly impressive, considering they came against a Minnesota defense that ranked 30th in the league (391.7 yards per game allowed) entering the contest. 

However, it is important to remember that Flynn has not yet been back with the team for two weeks and did not prepare for the game as the starter. 

Green Bay fields a middle-of-the-pack defense (ranked 18th, allowing 350.9 yards per game before Sunday) and a strong rushing attack (ranked sixth with 134.3 yards per game), which gives the Packers a chance to win any game so long as the play from the quarterback position is adequate.

Packers Quarterbacks Since Losing Rodgers
Matt Flynn213621810
Scott Tolzien559071715
Seneca Wallace162413901
Through Week 12

There is every reason to believe that with a week of preparation with the first-team offense, Flynn can provide a more-than-adequate quarterback presence next week when the Packers travel to Detroit to face the Lions.

The prospect of Green Bay defeating Detroit and moving ahead in the standings did not seem plausible a week ago.

However, after witnessing Flynn direct the Packers' late-game surge on Sunday, it doesn't seem quite so crazy.