Flynn, Perry, Barclay play role of Santa Claus and give game away late to Steelers
From Tyler Dunne, Journal-Sentinel
~Green Bay — For the Green Bay Packers, it was one mistake too many.
With 1 minute, 51 seconds left, quarterback Matt Flynn scrambled, fumbled and now the Packers season is (again) in jeopardy. Troy Polamalu forced the critical turnover. And Green Bay couldn’t complete a frantic comeback and lost to the Steelers, 38-31.
With the loss, the Packers fall to 7-7-1. And now, they’ll need a little help from the Philadelphia Eagles tonight against Chicago to stay alive.
If the Bears win, Green Bay is eliminated. If the Bears lose tonight, the NFC North title will be decided when the Packers and Bears meet next Sunday at Soldier Field.
Against the Steelers, Green Bay showed some fight again. Trailing 31-21 after a Flynn pick-six, the team clawed back to tie this one at 31-31 on John Kuhn’s 1-yard scoring plunge. At a cold, snowy Lambeau Field, the Packers rushed for 151 yards. But the defense had trouble of its own against Pittsburgh.
After holding the Steelers to a field-goal attempt, outside linebacker Nick Perry was flagged for encroachment. Then, Le’Veon Bell’s 1-yard touchdown gave Pittsburgh the lead with 1 minute and 25 seconds to go.
Micah Hyde returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to give Green Bay a chance late. But Flynn’s final pass attempt to Jarrett Boykin sailed incomplete.
Flynn finished 21 of 39 for 232 yards with one touchdown and an interception (that was a pick-6).
Player of the Game: Bell. He was a handful. Eddie Lacy may be having the better season, but Bell was a force today. He rushed for 124 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown.
Turning point: The Flynn fumble. Last week, the Dallas Cowboys committed the costly turnovers to turn the game. This week, Green Bay was in the giving mood.
Big Number: 42 years — John Brockington’s rookie rushing record held up before Eddie Lacy broke it on Sunday.
What went right: Green Bay ran the ball at will much of the day. Rookie Eddie Lacy (84 yards, two touchdowns) did the damage early, torpedoing into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdon. And when Lacy bowed out with an ankle injury, James Starks (43 yards) picked up the slack. Defensively, A.J. Hawk leapt for one interception that led to a field goal.
Receivers continued to make difficult catches, too. Jarrett Boykin caught the ball on the back of a cornerback’s helmet and James Jones (nine receptions for 84 yards) did his part, as well.
What went wrong: Stopping the run was a problem again for the Packers. One week after DeMarco Murray ran wild before disappearing from the Dallas game plan, the rookie Bell was a handful. The strong, shift, leaping back from Michigan State hurdled Morgan Burnett on one 25-yard run. Antonio Brown was difficult to track on the slick Lambeau Field track. His 36-yard reception teed up one touchdown, and he finished with 105 receiving yards.
Penalties at crucial moments didn’t help Green Bay—B.J. Raji had one hands to the face flag that kept a Pittsburgh drive alive, capped by Matt Spaeth catching an 11-yard touchdown inside Sean Richardson.
Perry’s penalty was a killer. And another penalty late led to a 10-second run-off before Flynn’s final pass.
Special teams woes persisted. In addition to the blocked kick and odd “illegal batting” penalty, the Steelers executed a fake punt on one touchdown drive. …On the pick-six, tight end Andrew Quarless bumped into Flynn and the quarterback’s pass was intercepted and returned 40 yards to the end zone by Cortez Allen.
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews re-injured his broken thumb and did not return. Green Bay couldn’t sustain a pass rush, finishing with only one sack and three hits on Roethlisberger.
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