Flynn, Stafford put on show

Packers quarterback Matt Flynn takes a moment in between plays against the Lions at Lambeau Field...

Packers quarterback Matt Flynn takes a moment in between plays against the Lions at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., Jan. 1, 2012. (DARREN HAUCK/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:55 AM ET

TORONTO - It stands to reason that this incredible offensive season by the Green Bay Packers would end with a record-setting quarterback performance.

What doesn’t compute is that it happened with Aaron Rodgers chilling on the sidelines.

Rodgers, who will likely win the NFL’s MVP Award, had a front-row seat on the single greatest game in the storied history of the Packers franchise when Matt Flynn completed 31 passes for 480 yards and an astounding six touchdowns in Green Bay’s 45-41 victory over Detroit.

“That was one of the best performances I’ve ever been a part of,” said coach Mike McCarthy. “The whole world got to see what we see every day (in practice).”

Rodgers was one of five regulars who were given the day off by McCarthy, with his team having already clinched home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Flynn, in his fourth year out of LSU, came into this start having thrown just five passes all year for 38 yards and an interception but he lit up the Lions’ secondary all day.

The last completion of Flynn’s stunning performance was a four-yard TD strike to Jermichael Finley that capped an eight-play, 75-yard game-winning drive with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter.

While Flynn’s yardage total was a single-game Packers record, it was not even the most yardage by a quarterback in this game. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford completed 36 passes for 520 yards and five TDs in a losing effort. It was Detroit’s 21st consecutive road loss to the Packers.

Between them, the two QB’s completed 67 passes for exactly 1,000 passing yards.

After the Packers scored their final TD, the Lions marched into Green Bay territory but Stafford threw an interception that ended the shootout.

BUCS HIT NEW LOW

The Colts may have claimed the No. 1 draft choice by virtue of their two-win season, but there is little doubt that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the absolute worst team in the NFL right now.

After flirting with mediocrity with four wins in the first six weeks of the season, the Buccaneers went on a toboggan ride into the abyss. They lost their past 10 games, each defeat seemingly more embarrassing than the one before it.

Sunday’s 45-24 annihilation at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons was the grisliest bit of business yet. In the first 23 minutes of the contest, if we can call it that, the Falcons scored six unanswered touchdowns to lead 42-0. In that span, they rolled up 291 yards of offence and returned one of two Josh Freeman interceptions for a defensive score. Running back Michael Turner racked up 172 rushing yards in the first half alone before he and quarterback Matt Ryan got the rest of the day off. Meanwhile, in those opening 23 minutes, the Bucs managed a grand total of 15 yards of offence, before the playoff-bound Falcons lost interest.

By game’s end, the Bucs had generated 294 yards of offence but it was a mirage, accomplished against the Falcons’ second and third stringers.

With the victory, the Falcons leaped past Detroit into the fifth seed, a crucial move, given that the sixth seed will have to play next week against New Orleans, which may be the hottest team in football entering the playoffs.

COLTS LUCK OUT

The Indianapolis Colts came to their senses just in the nick of time.

After losing their first 13 games in a row this year, and all but assuring themselves of the first pick in next spring’s college draft, the Colts went on a dangerous two-game winning streak but were able to re-discover their losing ways Sunday in a dreadful 19-13 defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is the first time in the last 10 years the Colts have missed the playoffs.

With wins in the last two weeks, Indianapolis had imperilled their opportunity to draft quarterback Andrew Luck out of Stanford. The St. Louis Rams also finished with two losses and, had the Colts won again on Sunday, they would have inherited the No. 1 overall pick.

There wasn’t much danger of that happening, even against the wretched 5-12 Jaguars. Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew gashed the Colts’ defence for 169 yards to win the league rushing title with 1,606 for the season.

He set a franchise rushing record, passing Fred Taylor’s eight-year-old mark of 1,572. His performance helped the Jags give owner Wayne Weaver a proper sendoff. Weaver has owned the Jags since their inception in 1993 and recently sold the franchise to Chicago businessman Shahid Khan, who takes over ownership next week, for $770 million.

BREES TOPS ALL QBs

Just in case anybody missed Drew Brees’ record-setting game against the Atlanta Falcons last Monday, he came back for a curtain call on Sunday.

Having already eclipsed Dan Marino’s 27-year-old single-season yardage record on his last pass on Monday, Brees came out flinging again on Sunday and tacked on another 389 yards, not to mention five TD passes, in New Orleans’ 45-17 demolition of the Carolina Panthers. With Aaron Rodgers of the Packers getting the day off Sunday, Brees vaulted to the top of the Seasonal TD pass list with 46.

In the process, the Saints went 8-0 at home this season, the first time in their history they have run the table at the SuperDome.

As it turned out, the Saints’ win had no effect on the playoff picture because San Francisco also held on to win at St. Louis, allowing the 49ers to earn the No. 2 seed and a bye into the divisional playoffs in two weeks time.

New Orleans, as the No. 3 seed, will host the Detroit Lions, who fell from fifth seed to sixth when they were beaten by Green Bay. The Atlanta Falcons went from sixth seed to fifth and will now face the winner of Sunday night’s AFC East showdown between the Giants and Cowboys.


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