Down and Out to Front and Center

Two discounted veterans step to the forefront to lead the Packers to an unimaginable comeback. However this season winds up, there's no denying this team's heart and character and mental toughness.

Mike McCarthy's first word to reporters after Sunday's game was appropriate.

"Wow," he said.

After the Green Bay Packers laid an egg on Thanksgiving at Detroit, McCarthy's club looked like one ready for a trip to the beach or the country club.

Who knows how this season will end. Maybe the Lions win their final three games to claim the NFC North. Maybe Chicago beats Green Bay in Week 17 to take the division. Maybe Green Bay can ride the momentum from two shocking comebacks into the playoffs.

However it works out, there's no denying this team's heart and character and mental toughness.

In the locker room, maybe only McCarthy thought this was possible. And, if he were being totally honest, maybe not even McCarthy could have imagined the outcome.

"I'll be honest with you: I stood in the middle of the team at halftime and said, ‘Hey, this is the biggest adversity situation that we've been in in our time together,'" McCarthy said. "I said, ‘Team 93, our season's on the line. We're not going to panic. We're going to take it one play at a time. This game's going to come down to the last sequence of plays. You've got to believe in that.'"

Really, though, the Packers were toast. Down 26-3 and overwhelmed in every way imaginable, the Packers weren't looking for a victory. They were looking for a successful play. A first down. A defensive stop.

"I think all of us probably thought that," quarterback Matt Flynn said of the halftime deficit being too large to overcome. "We were pretty frustrated. We knew that there was a chance that we could do it but I think more of the conversation at halftime was, ‘Let's be men right now. Let's be men. Let's show what we're made of, show our pride, go out there and execute the way we know how to.' Something was said about winning but we told each other that we had to look down deep and dig ourselves out of the hole from that first half playing so bad. So, that says a lot about our guys."

The comeback said a lot about two guys, in particular.

One is Flynn. That 2011 game against Detroit was the football equivalent of a cat's nine lives ago. After failing to secure the starting job in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, maybe only Flynn believed in Flynn. His return to Green Bay was a marriage by necessity, more than anything. But there was Flynn, doing something that Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre had never accomplished in leading Green Bay back from a 23-point halftime deficit.

"Yeah, this has been a wild ride this year. 2013's been crazy for me," Flynn said before a lengthy pause. "I take a lot of personal satisfaction from a game like this, a win like this. For whatever reason, God has blessed me with opportunities. I've been just trying to work hard and forget about the negative things, forget about the things people say, whatever it is, and focus on the good, focus on what an amazing blessing I have."

The second is Williams. At age 30 and with a hefty contract, a lot of fans would have volunteered to pack up Williams' belongings and driving the moving van out of town. During a brilliant 2010, Williams emerged as one of the NFL's premier ballhawks. However, he endured a 23-game streak without an interception. He's returned to form the last several weeks, though, and emerged as leader of a young secondary. On the clinching interception, he came off of his man, rookie Terrance Williams, to intercept a short pass to Cole Beasley.

"I never felt more sure about a catch in my life," he said of his acrobatic grab.

McCarthy said he was "drained" after the game. Time and again, he spoke of his team's character. In the locker room, players mentioned Johnny Jolly and Jamari Lattimore speaking from the heart at halftime.

"We came into halftime 26-3. Most guys would have packed it in," Williams said. "‘OK, guys, it's not our season, let's just go home and get ready for next year.' Not that vibe here. Not that vibe here. We came in, got a great vibe from the coaches, everyone. No yelling, everyone trying to get on the same page. We came in and made the adjustments that we needed to. We had the sense of urgency that we needed. The offense went out and scored right away. That was big. That's a confidence booster. We knew those guys can do that, and they did it. We knew we needed to make stops then, and we kept making stops. We made them kick a field goal and we got another touchdown. We saw things going our way, and it was, ‘OK, we're here. We're going to keep fighting, keep punching.' And eventually, we kicked the door down."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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