Nelson Shares Career Day With Flynn

It was not a good day to be a defensive back at Lambeau Field. The Packers' receivers, led by Jordy Nelson, played a part in backup quarterback Matt Flynn's 480-yard, six-touchdown day. Nelson's three-touchdown performance left him among the game's elite receivers.

Sunday at Lambeau Field was a day of setting career marks, and quarterback Matt Flynn was not alone.

Someone had to be on the receiving end of all those yards and touchdowns thrown by the Green Bay Packers' quarterback, and chief among them was Jordy Nelson, who capped off an unexpected prolific season with a career day in a 45-41 seesaw victory over the Lions.

Nelson, who like Flynn entered the NFL in 2008, set single-game career highs for receiving yards with 162 and touchdown catches with three while tying his personal best for catches in a game with nine.

After the game, Nelson had a chance to reflect on his season, albeit only for the moment knowing that the playoffs are coming.

"I've been fortunate and blessed to be able to make the plays I've been able to make, play with the quarterbacks I've been able to play with and everyone else around me," he said. "This team is so dynamic. We preach every day to make the most of your opportunities and I think for the most part I've been able to do that this year."

With the Packers short-handed at wide receiver – only three suited up with Greg Jennings (knee) and Randall Cobb (groin) inactive – Nelson was the target of 15 Flynn passes. And for the most part, the Lions had no answer.

Said Lions coach Jim Schwartz of the performance of his defensive backs: "They couldn't have played worse. We covered poorly, we tackled poorly, we played man-to-man poorly, we blitzed poorly, we played zone poorly."

Nelson had a big part in that, displaying the skills that have made him a complete receiver. Including last year's playoffs, Nelson has caught 89 passes for 1,549 yards (17.4 average) and 16 touchdowns.

On his first touchdown of the day, he took a quick swing pass from Flynn, stiff-armed defensive back Alfonso Smith at the 8-yard line, and scooted down the sideline to the end zone for a 7-yard score.

On his second touchdown, the Packers took advantage of a free play. After the Lions jumped offside, Flynn looked deep down the left sideline, where Nelson timed his jump perfectly at the goal line to snare in a 36-yard touchdown, again over Smith.

His final score of the game, a 58-yarder late in the third quarter, came on a play-action play that seemingly no Packers opponent can stop. Using a fake early in the route and then his speed down the middle of the field, Nelson beat cornerback Chris Houston, who nearly knocked the ball out of Nelson's hands shortly after the catch.

"I had no idea where (the defender) was at," said Nelson of the play. "I knew he was behind me. Matt put the ball out there and I just focused on the ball. I wasn't worried about anyone else. If they were going to make a play on it, they were going to make a play on it. So, we were able to make the completion and were able to get in the end zone for a big play."

All three of Nelson's touchdowns gave the Packers the lead in a game that saw a basketball-like 11 lead changes.

With 15 touchdown receptions on the season, Nelson finished with the third-highest single-season total in team history behind Sterling Sharpe's 18 in 1994 and Don Hutson's 17 in 1942. He joined Javon Walker (11 catches, 200 yards, three touchdowns vs. Colts in 2004) as the only players in franchise history with eight catches, 150 yards and three touchdowns in a game.

"It's an honor," said Nelson. "We've always said that when you're getting up there in the record books in this organization, if it's wins, or stats, or Super Bowls, or whatever, it's an honor because of the teams that have been through this stadium and this organization. But our work's not done yet."

Nelson, who was named a Pro Bowl alternate last week, finished the regular season as the Packers' leading receiver for the first time with 68 catches for 1,263 yards, good for 18.6 yards per catch. His 18.6 yards per catch inched past San Diego's Vincent Jackson for highest average in the league among players with at least 40 receptions. Only Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (17) and the Lions' Calvin Johnson (16) had more receiving touchdowns than Nelson this season.

"It's been fun. I couldn't have imagined it," said Nelson of his big season. "I would've bet you a lot of money that this wouldn't have happened."


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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com


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