Packers' backup plan maybe not good 
for Cowboys

December 15, 2013

 

From left, Green Bay Packers' Scott Tolzien (16) sits with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, center, and Matt Flynn, right, on the bench during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit on Nov. 28th.

ARLINGTON, Texas - Matt Flynn is the backup trying to keep Green Bay in playoff contention until the franchise quarterback returns.

If he fills in for Aaron Rodgers again Sunday at Dallas, the Packers will be using a formula that just worked pretty well against the Cowboys.

Dallas (7-6) is out of first place in the NFC East and in danger of losing control of its postseason fate because Chicago backup Josh McCown, filling in for Jay Cutler, had four touchdown passes and ran for another score in a 45-28 win Monday night.

The Packers (6-6-1) are still alive in the NFC North, a half-game behind the Bears and Detroit, after Flynn directed three second-half drives to points in a 22-21 comeback victory over Atlanta. It was Green Bay's first win since Rodgers broke his left collarbone early in a loss to the Bears on Nov. 4.

"To have a win like that, hopefully it gives you a little momentum," said Flynn, who made his second start after rejoining the Packers as a free agent following the Rodgers injury. "Hopefully it gives you an extra little bit of juice in your step at practice and helps you prepare a little bit better."

Dallas Cowboys safety Barry Church (42) tackles Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett (83) during the first half of an NFL football game Dec. 9th in Chicago.

The question all week was whether Flynn was preparing as the starter. That's never really been a question for him.

"It's not fair to myself, my teammates or anyone else if I don't prepare like I'm going to take the first snap Sunday," Flynn said. "If they tell me Aaron's playing today, tomorrow, whenever it is, that's part of the job, that's part of the gig."

The job for the Cowboys is putting another brutal defensive game behind them. Dallas gave up a franchise-record 625 yards in a 49-17 loss at New Orleans before the bye week, and bounced back with consecutive wins to get two games over .500 for the first time this season.

Now the Cowboys must recover from allowing the Bears to score on their first eight possessions. They're the fifth team to do that since 1991, and none of the previous four had a winning record. Three of those teams had five wins combined.

"We've just got to try our hardest to put it behind us ... because we've got a great team coming up that likes to chuck the ball around a lot," safety Barry Church said. "As a member of the back end, we've just got to be focused on the task at hand, and that's Green Bay."

Five things to consider as the Packers try to beat the Cowboys on the road for the first time since 1989:

SUPER MEMORIES: Green Bay is playing at the $1.2 billion home of the Cowboys for the first time since beating Pittsburgh there in the February 2011 Super Bowl. Rodgers was the MVP of that game, and Jordy Nelson had nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown.

"That was obviously a great time and a great memory for all of us in Green Bay," coach Mike McCarthy said.

The stadium's opening in 2009 eliminated a bad memory for Green Bay. The Packers lost their last nine at now-demolished Texas Stadium, including seven straight from 1993-96. Three of the games in that short span were in the playoffs.

ROMO AND COMPANY: Tony Romo, the Dallas franchise leader in 300-yard games, has gone four straight without reaching 250 yards passing. He had 104 against Chicago, the fewest in a full game in his career. Part of it was an effective running game, and part of it was a defense that couldn't get Chicago off the field. And Romo did have three touchdown passes against the Bears. Dez Bryant had one of those scores, but just 12 yards receiving, the fewest since his rookie season in 2010.

"I think as much as anything else it was a question of limited opportunities," coach Jason Garrett said.

DEFENSIVE MOMENTUM: While the Cowboys are trying to forget their last defensive game, the Packers wouldn't mind repeating theirs. They've cleaned up their problem with missed tackles and started forcing turnovers again. The run defense regained its early-season form against Atlanta, thanks in part to lineman Johnny Jolly, who is playing in Texas for the first time since spending six months in prison in his home state on a drug conviction.

"Basically we want to go out there and be disciplined, be smart, not have many missed tackles," Jolly said.

ON THE RUN: The Cowboys lost for the first time when DeMarco Murray had a 100-yard rushing game. He had 99 yards at halftime against the Bears and finished with 146, the third-best total of his career. He needs 157 yards in the last three games for his first 1,000-yard season. "I don't know where the yards are. I'm just worried about victories," Murray said.

Eddie Lacy set a Packers rookie record with his seventh TD rushing against the Falcons, but he wasn't expected to practice before Friday because of an ankle injury.

EMBATTLED KIFFIN: Twice in the last month, Dallas owner Jerry Jones has said he wouldn't want anyone other than 73-year-old defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin fixing the issues stemming from an embarrassing defensive performance. But the problems keep cropping up, which keeps raising questions about whether Kiffin should be replaced.

"Hadn't really thought about that," Kiffin said. "I would say that would be kind of like a player, 'Let's throw in the towel.' Like telling your players, 'Don't play that hard anymore. Let's give it up.' It ain't happening."

Associated Press