Coach Mike McCarthy called an audible and decided that rather than let starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers play one series on Thursday night at Kansas City, Rodgers got the entire night off. Flynn got the start and played into the fourth quarter of the 17-13 loss.
The numbers wound up looking pretty, with Flynn completing 23-of-37 passes for 304 yards, with no touchdowns, no interceptions, one sack and a passer rating of 88.1. In reality, however, Flynn was just modestly effective. His first four series resulted in three-and-out punts that gained a grand total of 18 yards. His next five series, however, resulted in a 76-yard drive that ended on downs when Brett Swain couldn't make a fourth-down catch in the end zone, a 60-yard drive for a field goal, an 82-yard drive for a touchdown, a 47-yard drive that ended on downs when Chastin West dropped a pass on fourth-and-2 and 25-yard drive that ended with a punt.
"I thought Matt has put together a fine preseason and I thought he did a really good job of keeping us in good plays tonight at the line of scrimmage," McCarthy said. "I thought he missed some throws earlier in the game, he didn't quite have his feet set. But I thought overall for his three quarters, he did a very good job."
Perhaps no player made a bigger statement than second-year receiver Swain. Swain, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 25 at Cleveland, hadn't stood out during limited opportunities at training camp but finished the game with six catches for 130 yards, including a 77-yarder to set up the Packers' first touchdown.
"I'm happy for him," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "He seemed like he had a productive day. He got behind the defense that one play but he made some other solid catches as well."
Two negatives stand out. Swain had a chance to score a touchdown on fourth down in the second quarter but bobbled the ball and had his arm ripped from the ball. Later, Swain landed on the knee and gingerly walked off the field.
Will that be enough to survive Saturday's cuts?
"I felt like I had a chance to come in and compete with the 1s and 2s," Swain said, "and I felt like that was an opportunity to come out and make some plays, not just to show the coaches or the organization what I could do, but just for myself, that I could get open in coverages and have the confidence to catch the ball and make plays down the field."
A day of rest
Not only didn't Rodgers play, but neither did two other healthy starters: Charles Woodson and Ryan Grant. Safety Will Blackmon (knee), cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder), linebackers Clay Matthews (hamstring), Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and Brad Jones (shoulder, offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga (hip flexor), Chad Clifton (knee) and Allen Barbre (back), and defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calves) also were held out.
"Clearly, a coach's decision," McCarthy said of his choice on Rodgers, Grant and Woodson. "It's something I think about all the time. I feel we came out of the game relatively healthy. Tomorrow morning always gives you the true picture of the health of your football team. Frankly, with the locker room being kind of small and having a 75-man roster and the ability to have better treatment at home, just with our setup there, all those type of factors factor into the decision of leaving the number of players home that we did."
Shields didn't have any impact plays but generally was solid.
"He played almost three quarters because we wanted to play him a lot," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "There's only a couple things that I can think of that I saw that he's going to have to take a look at and get better. He's played a lot for us these last two weeks, so we'll take a look at this and see where we are."
Capers hopes he'll have his entire defense together when practice resumes on Monday. Brad Jones would replace Frank Zombo in the starting lineup, he said.
— Like last year's preseason finale, McCarthy handed the play-calling duties to Philbin. In his typically self-deprecating manner, Philbin said: "Yeah, especially at the beginning of the game. I called all those. Those were good."
— Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, on Jason Chery's adventures returning kickoffs (16.0-yard average, one fumble) and punt returns (9.0 average, almost a fumble): "He's definitely got potential. You guys have seen the speed, we all have, and he's got a uniqueness in the way he can run north and south. I'd like to have seen him with our full contingent of blockers in front of him the whole game, and I thought he was challenged a little bit there on some of those latter kickoff returns that we didn't block very well for him."
— Along with Swain landing on his knee, the other injury was long snapper Brett Goode exiting with a blow to the head.
— McCarthy, on Blackmon's absence: "He's coming off of a major surgery. If you sat in on the doctor meetings, this all falls in the normal protocol, particularly of a perimeter player, that had a significant injury to his knee. He's going through a tough spot right now."
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