Packers focused on next comeback: postseason

One day after matching the greatest come-from-behind victory in

their 93-year history, the Green Bay Packers’ focus is on another

comeback: A late-season rally that will extend their streak of

consecutive postseason berths to five.

But whether they’ll have quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the final

two games of the regular season remains unclear.

After erasing a 23-point halftime deficit to beat the Dallas

Cowboys 37-36 on Sunday, the Packers enter their final two games at

7-6-1.

They’ll face Pittsburgh next Sunday at Lambeau Field before the

regular-season finale at Chicago on Dec. 29.

Their playoff formula is simple in the three-team NFC North

division race with the Bears, who are 8-6 after Sunday’s victory at

Cleveland, and the Detroit Lions, who are 7-7 after Monday night’s

loss against Baltimore: Beat the Steelers and Bears.

”To overcome the adversity that just seemed like it would not

end, (have) had some calls that didn’t go our way that frankly

probably should have, and just to keep battling, it’s something

that we can draw from, it’s something that we will build on,” said

Packers coach Mike McCarthy, whose team is the only one in the NFC

to have made the playoffs each of the past four seasons.

”We’re about getting ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but

it’s an excellent team victory. Can’t say enough about our football

team, can’t say how proud I am of each and every player just to

stay the course, and that’s exactly what they did. … It will

definitely be a game I’ll never forget.”

Down 26-3 at halftime, backup quarterback Matt Flynn led the

Packers to touchdowns on their first five possessions of the second

half while the defense got a pair of crucial interceptions from

cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams in the final three

minutes.

The comeback matched a 1982 rally in which the Packers overcame

a 23-0 deficit to beat the Los Angeles Rams 35-23.

”We fought so hard,” said Flynn, who struggled in the first

half but finished the game 26 of 39 passes for 299 yards with four

touchdowns and one interception (113.1 rating).

”Playing so bad in the first half, coming out in the second

half and playing like we did offensively and defensively, I think

says a lot about this team.”

But it only means something if the Packers parlay it into two

more victories and a playoff berth – something that would be easier

to accomplish with Aaron Rodgers under center.

The former NFL MVP has not played since fracturing his left

collarbone against the Bears on Nov. 4, but wanted to play against

the Cowboys and was displeased when McCarthy and team physician

Patrick McKenzie told him he could not.

At his usual day-after news conference Monday, McCarthy said he

had just come from a meeting with the medical staff and said that

Rodgers’ status was not discussed.

”Just had a brief medical meeting. Frankly, we didn’t even

discuss Aaron,” McCarthy said. ”Aaron’s situation will be

evaluated Wednesday morning and then we’ll have a plan for him come

Wednesday.”

Rodgers was not available to reporters Monday and did not speak

to the media after the game Sunday.

McCarthy said that the coaches would begin the game-planning

process as if Flynn would be the starter against the Steelers, but

Flynn, for one, expects Rodgers to return.

”Everyone hopes that Aaron’s back,” Flynn said. ”I don’t

anticipate being the guy going forward. I would anticipate Aaron

getting healthy. That’s what we’re all hoping for and that’s what

I’m hoping for.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org