Having thrown just 20 passes since entering the league in 2008, with the vast majority of those throws coming in games that had already been decided, Flynn was pressed into duty in a scoreless game late in the second quarter after starter Aaron Rodgers was lost for the day due to a concussion.
“I think overall I made some good plays out there, but I had a couple of mental mistakes that I made that really cost us, and I take full credit for that,” Flynn said. “I feel like we moved the ball a little bit and we did some good things, but obviously we didn’t do the things we needed to do to win the game.”
Flynn’s day got off to an inauspicious start as he threw an incomplete pass on his first play before being dropped for a 7-yard sack by defensive ends Turk McBride and Lawrence Jackson on the second. But Flynn seemed to settle in and find his rhythm after halftime.
On the opening play of the second half, Flynn ran a bootleg left and found tight end Andrew Quarless for a 20-yard gain out to the Green Bay 48. Three plays later he hooked up with Quarless again on a bootleg, this time for 11 yards, before connecting with wide receiver James Jones near the right sideline for a 7-yard pickup to the Detroit 24.
Flynn’s throw on a slant to Jennings on second down was out of his reach, and he looked for Jennings again on third down, lofting a pass to him on the left side of the end zone that he was unable to haul in. The drive ended with a field goal.
Pinned back at the Green Bay 10 to start the next series, Flynn used his feet to convert the first third down of the day for the Packers as he scrambled up the middle for a 12-yard gain on third-and-10. Two plays later he hooked up with Jennings on his long throw of the afternoon, a perfectly thrown ball over cornerback Chris Houston near the sideline that went for 32 yards to the Lions’ 35.
Flynn followed that up with back-to-back completions to wide receiver Jordy Nelson that went for 26 yards total to put the ball inside the 10. On second-and-goal, Flynn looked to wide receiver Donald Driver over the middle on a play-action pass, but linebacker DeAndre Levy was right in front of Driver to intercept the throw in the end zone.
“I thought Matt did some good things management-wise,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “We got the three-step game going relatively well. We started the half pretty well. We had two good drives. We got a field goal on one and we had a nice drive on the other one before we turned it over.
“Maybe had we gotten some points on that drive, maybe we would have gained a little confidence and played a little better. But again, give those guys credit.”
Flynn said he never saw Levy on the throw, thinking that he had come up and bit on the fake.
“It’s a hard play fake and Driver was bluffing the safety,” Flynn said. “He beat the safety and I came up. It was just one of those things where I saw him beat the safety and the linebacker was kind of hidden behind the offensive line.”
After Lions kicker and former Packer Dave Rayner missed a 48-yard field goal late in the third quarter, Flynn had his best starting position of the day to that point at the Green Bay 38. After a first-down pass to Driver went for 7 yards, running back Dimitri Nance gained 2 yards up the middle to set up third-and-1.
Flynn looked left to hand the ball off to running back John Kuhn on third down, but Kuhn was on his right, forcing Flynn to hang on to the ball and take a 4-yard loss as he was dropped by defensive tackle Sammie Hill.
“I turned the wrong way,” Flynn said. “I actually checked it with the line. I made a check to our defense and I just opened the wrong way. That was a big play in the game.”
Trailing 7-3 with just under four minutes remaining in the game, Flynn and the offense had one final chance as they were backed up at the Green Bay 9. Facing a third-and-11, Flynn made a nice throw down the seam to Jones for 18 yards. He followed that up with a screen to Nance for 14 yards, and a short pass to Jennings for 9.
Flynn then hooked up with Quarless on back-to-back completions for a total of 19 yards, before a 1-yard run by running back Brandon Jackson set up third-and-1 at the Detroit 32 with just over a minute left. Flynn looked to Driver over the middle, but the ball slipped out of his hand as he released it, and it sailed over Driver’s head.
“I didn’t see the replay, but I felt I was getting pressure and I just kind of rushed the throw,” Flynn said. “I was trying to get it out real quick and it slipped out.”
With one final chance on fourth down, Flynn went deep down the left sideline to Jennings, who was covered by cornerback Nathan Vasher, but the throw sailed long in the end zone.
“Greg ran a good route,” said Flynn, who finished 15-of-26 for 177 yards and a 62.5 passer rating. “When the ball came out of my hand, I thought it came out real well. I thought it was going to be a good throw but obviously it was a little bit over him. We had it. I’ve just got to hit it.”
As he did when he sustained a concussion in Week 5 at Washington, Rodgers will have to go through the normal protocol before he is cleared to return to action. If he is unable to play at New England next Sunday, Flynn said he’ll be ready if another chance presents itself.
“Like I said, I think there were some things that went well,” Flynn said. “We had the interception. That was a good drive we had down the field, but I’ve got to play better. There are no excuses for it. That’s my job to come in and keep moving the ball, and we didn’t get it done.
“I’m going to prepare the hardest I have ever prepared before because obviously I made a couple of mental mistakes. That shouldn’t happen. Especially in a tough situation, those things can’t happen.”