“Not when the umpire is standing there and the clock is running,” McCarthy replied when asked if Flynn could have snapped the ball sooner. “I don’t know what you can ask Matt Flynn to do, or Dietrich-Smith.”
According to Jordy Nelson, who appeared more open than Boykin on the final play, Flynn checked the play at the line of scrimmage, which also burned a few seconds.
“Just the communication of the officials holding us and then all of sudden blowing the whistle and being able to snap it (was off),” Nelson said. “All sorts of things were going on, but I think Matt did a good job of getting us down there. Matt made, I think, a great check (on last play) with what he saw in the defense and gave us a shot.”
Said tight end Andrew Quarless: “I don’t know, man. I don’t want to blame the refs, but they were a little all over the place.”
Quote, unquote: “Really, the message in the locker room, frankly I’m embarrassed by it; I didn’t know Detroit lost the game, so my message was different when I talked to the team. But this team, ‘Team 93’ as I refer to them, they refuse to lose. A ton of fight in them. We needed one more play tonight.” – Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who came into the locker room after the game and apparently acted as if the Packers had been eliminated from playoff contention in his post-game comments to his team.
Injury report: Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who missed four games and had pins inserted into his broken right thumb after suffering the fracture on Oct. 6 against Detroit, reinjured his thumb Sunday while sacking Roethlisberger. He did not return and appeared to know immediately that the injury was bad.
Inside linebacker Brad Jones, who has been battling an ankle injury for over a month, reinjured the ankle twice during the game. While he was able to return to action in the second half after the first time he hurt the ankle, he did it again and could not continue during the fourth quarter.
Lacy, who has been wearing an orthopedic immobilizing boot during the week since hurting his right ankle against the Falcons, did not return after his injury.
Outside linebacker Mike Neal’s neck/shoulder stinger left the Packers with only two outside linebackers – Perry and Andy Mulumba – for a time during the second half. But Neal was able to return.
The Packers never went back on defense after his 70-yard kickoff return, so it’s unclear if Hyde could have gone back in after hurting his shoulder on the play.
> In his career, Aaron Rodgers has thrown one interception that was returned for a touchdown – in 2008, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In seven games without him, his replacements have now combined for three pick-six INT-TDs, with Flynn throwing his second one of the year on Sunday. While Flynn’s first was on a fluky deflection against Atlanta, Sunday’s came when on a run/pass option play he checked to a pass to Boykin, but collided with Quarless as he was throwing it. That allowed Allen to pick him off and go 40 yards the other way for the TD.
“It was what we call a run solution throw and the safety was down to our run side, so I was taking just the easy one-on-one matchup to the receiver,” Flynn said. “I’ve got to do a better job of understanding where my tight end has to fill according to where his linebacker is and get out of his way. I was coming up and (Quarless) hit me on my left side, and turned me, and pulled the ball up. It was just one of those unfortunate plays and I definitely wish I could take that one back.”
McCarthy said that if anyone deserved blame for the play, “it’s probably more my fault. That particular play, we hadn’t run that particular backside-blocking scheme until that point in the game. I had given Matt a reminder, we were in the run-pass selection; the safety came down late. That’s probably a little bit of an example of a guy not having a lot of reps in that particular footwork, and it cost us. Andrew’s doing his job. He’s blocking the backside linebacker. Frankly, you can put that on me.”
> McCarthy also absolved Flynn of his other costly turnover, a fumble on a third-and-8 scramble on which Flynn was trying to get a first down but was hit by safety Troy Palomalu and fumbled a yard shy of the marker on the Packers’ sideline. Brett Keisel recovered, setting up the game-winning score.
“I’m fine with Matt’s decision. I was standing right there. I saw what he saw,” McCarthy said. “He thought he was going to be able to split (the two defenders) and get the first down. He’s a good athlete, he’s a good runner, he’s competing. I have no problem with what he attempted there.”
Said Flynn: “At the time, it was third down, I took off running and knew I had to go for the first down. I couldn't slide or anything like that. My plan was to try to split those guys and dive for it as hard as I could. Troy made a good play and got me wrapped around I couldn't do that. He got the ball. I've got to protect the ball. It's probably not my thing to go running and try to split defenders and things like that, but I've got to do a better job under the situation.
“At that time wasn't really thinking about ball security. I was thinking about trying to dive for the first down."
> Defensive end Johnny Jolly, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve Saturday with a neck injury he suffered last week against Dallas that McCarthy termed “significant,” refused to talk about the injury in the locker room after the game.
“I don’t want to talk about that. This is about the team,” Jolly said. “Right now, we’re focusing on the team.”
Asked if he’ll need surgery, Jolly replied, “I mean, all of that is not important right now. It’s about this team and what we’ve got going on right now.”
> The other bizarre play came when 23-yard field goal was blocked in the third quarter. It certainly appeared that Steelers safety Ryan Clark clearly recovered the ball and was trying to lateral it to a teammate when the ball came loose again, but Cheffers crew ruled that when Ziggy Hood intentionally batted the ball out of bounds, there had been no change of possession. Thus, the Packers got the ball and a first down, setting up Lacy’s 2-yard TD on the next play.
“I felt like I slid a little bit on the field, and it just came out a little low. [Pittsburgh] got a hand up and blocked it,” Crosby said. “Obviously just disappointed not hitting that kick, but we got a touchdown out of it, so it ended up being beneficial to us. I know batting is a penalty, but I didn’t know that it would get us the ball back. Happy it did.”
Cheffers told a pool reporter that the play was called as it was because “we ruled that the ball continued to be a loose ball throughout the play. … The discussion (among the officials) revolved around whether or not there was possession in the field of play (by the Steelers), and we ruled that there was no possession in the field of play. That’s why we enforced it as a foul.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.