Final Seconds Tick Away for Flynn, Offense

Matt Flynn thought he had plenty of time for another comeback. The scoreboard clock told another story. No matter who you blame, the final 10 seconds brought plenty of confusion to the Green Bay Packers.

In the aftermath that was the chaotic ending of the Green Bay Packers' latest comeback bid, Matt Flynn kept coming back to one thought that was stuck in his head.

He thought he had enough time for two plays.

As it turned out, after just one play, the Lambeau Field clock ran out and the Packers' offense was left stalled and stunned. Their chance at overcoming a double-digit deficit for the third straight game had been foiled. Steelers 38, Packers 31.

"I don't know what happened, really," Flynn said of the game's final seconds. "Everything just … the operation seemed kind of weird right there."

Flynn was referring to the final 10 seconds of the game. The Packers' offense had just been assessed a 5-yard false start penalty from the 1-yard line, which also came with 10-second runoff since the Packers had no timeouts remaining. As officials set the ball at the 6-yard line and signaled to start the game clock, as is procedure for the penalty, Flynn didn't get the shotgun snap from Evan Dietrich-Smith until there were 3 seconds left. By that time, the Packers had only one play, and Flynn's pass sailed high and wide to receiver Jarrett Boykin as the clock expired.

Afterward, to the Packers, there seemed to be some confusion as to when umpire Undrey Wash, standing over the ball, told them it was set for play and ready to be snapped. Coach Mike McCarthy was asked if Flynn could have snapped the ball sooner to avoid such a sudden fate.

"Not when the umpire is standing there and the clock is running," said McCarthy. "I don't know what you can ask Matt Flynn to do, or Dietrich-Smith."

Dietrich-Smith seemed to claim that the officials told him to hold off snapping the ball, but by that time, the clock was already running.

"You've got the head guy (referee) and you've got the umpire," said Dietrich-Smith. "When he takes his hand off the ball, we can snap it. He's kind of in control of that. He backed up, we were ready to go. I'll have to watch the film to see what happened in the situation. I was just kind of focused on trying to win at that point."

Added left guard Josh Sitton: "We were up, set and ready to go. (The umpire) told Evan to take his hand off of the ball. When they did that, we all kind of got up and looked like, ‘What's going on?' Then he went back and wound the clock as he was going back. I don't know. I don't know what their process in that situation is supposed to be. I'm not a ref, so I don't know, but it's frustrating to end on something like that. You get to the 1-yard line with 25, 30 seconds (left)."

Whether the officials held the Packers back, as players and McCarthy suggested, is debatable. The Packers appeared to have time to snap the ball well before the clock hit 3 seconds. Had the snapped the ball sooner, they may have had time for one more shot at the end zone.

"We knew we were going to get a run-off, we knew the clock was going to run and so we got everybody lined up," said Flynn. "We should have been able to get two plays off. We thought that the operation, getting the ball down and the clock started was a little bit weird. But we should've been able to get two plays off. We went as fast as we could.

"I think (the umpire) was holding the center up and then wound the clock when he was backing up," Flynn added of the procedure.

The false start, incorrectly assessed to right tackle Don Barclay (right guard T.J. Lang actually started early), came with 22 seconds left. The 10-second runoff came from the 20-second mark, which was the time remaining after James Starks ran on what was essentially a dead-ball play.

That the Packers even had a chance in the end was due to Micah Hyde's 70-yard kickoff just after LeVeon Bell's 1-yard touchdown to break a 31-31 tie with 1:25 remaining. From the Steelers' 31, Flynn hit Jordy Nelson for 7 yards and then tight end Andrew Quarless down the middle for a 19-yard catch-and-run that set up a first-and-goal from the 5. With 43 seconds, Starks carried to the 1-yard line before Flynn quickly set his offense and Barclay was called for a false start.

"I don't know what really happened," Flynn was asked one more time of the final play. "I was watching the official spotting the ball and then all of a sudden I look up and I'm calling the snap count and the clock had already been winding. We thought we'd get two plays off and we didn't."


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


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