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Flynn throws 6 TDs, Packers beat Lions 45-41

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
By Chris Jenkins
AP Sports Writer / January 2, 2012
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GREEN BAY, Wis.—Matt Flynn's teammates just assume he is headed elsewhere after the season, most likely as a candidate to start for a quarterback-starved team in another NFL city.

And that was even before Flynn's jaw-dropping performance for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

With Aaron Rodgers resting for the playoffs in the regular-season finale, Flynn outdueled Matthew Stafford and set franchise records with 480 yards passing and six touchdowns in the Packers' wild 45-41 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Flynn already had the attention of general managers around the league after nearly beating New England last season, and he'll become a free agent in the offseason. But he isn't thinking about his future for now, or anything beyond returning to his role as backup and helping Rodgers and the Packers get back to the Super Bowl.

"There's too much ahead of this team right now to speculate on anything past the season," Flynn said. "So that's something that I'm not going to fall into the trap of doing. It's something that I guess I'll address when it's all over. But there's a lot ahead of us and a great opportunity for us."

Stafford threw for 520 yards with five touchdowns, but Flynn came out on top when he threw a touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley with 1:10 left in the game to give Green Bay the lead for good.

It was an ideal afternoon for the Packers (15-1), who got to rest Rodgers and several other big-name players without losing momentum going into the playoffs.

Running back Ryan Grant said Flynn's performance had Packers players joking about a quarterback controversy. Guard Josh Sitton said the Packers are going to miss Flynn, adding that he thought Flynn should sign with an AFC team.

"It's good timing for that man," wide receiver Jordy Nelson said with a laugh. "So good luck to him."

The Packers already had clinched home-field advantage in the NFC going into Sunday's game, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy spent all week being coy about his plans to rest veterans.

In the end, he sat Rodgers, along with several other key players with nagging injuries: cornerback Charles Woodson, linebacker Clay Matthews, wide receiver Greg Jennings, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, running back James Starks and wide receiver Randall Cobb.

McCarthy said it was an "easy call" to rest Rodgers -- although he did keep his quarterback involved in the game by letting him call some plays.

No matter who was calling plays, Flynn was making it work.

"It was clearly one of the best performances I've been a part of, no doubt about it," McCarthy said. "I can't say enough about Matt Flynn. The whole world got to see what we see every day. He's a talented young man."

Now Flynn goes back to the bench, but he insists he won't be disappointed.

"No, not at all," Flynn said. "We've got the best quarterback in the NFL as a starter here, so it's not hard at all. He's the heart and soul of this team and the leader of this team. So it's pretty easy to take a back seat and watch him play, and I'm excited to see what he does in the playoffs."

And while the Lions (10-6) missed an opportunity by failing to beat an undermanned Packers team and clinch the No. 5 seed, they still have a playoff future to look forward to -- for the first time since the 1999 season.

"Your immediate reaction is you feel like you had a good game plan, we feel like we should have stopped them and we didn't," Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "But anybody that's frustrated and anybody's that's feeling sorry for themselves right now has got to get over it quickly because we've got to move on."

With Atlanta's victory over Tampa Bay, the Lions will be the No. 6 seed and go to New Orleans in the first round.

"We're going to use this as motivation," Stafford said. "We had a chance and didn't get it done, so we've got to get out there and start making it happen. We've got to get on a run here. That's what it's all about in the playoffs, (getting) hot and hopefully we can get that going."

Detroit has lost 21 straight road games to the Packers, including the postseason.

According to STATS LLC, it was the first time in NFL history opposing quarterbacks each threw for 400-plus yards and five-plus touchdowns in a game. The teams' combined 971 net yards passing broke the record of 906 set earlier this season in a Week 1 game between New England and Miami.

"Flynn played a great game," Stafford said. "Their guys were making plays all over the field and scoring points."

And it could be a career-making day for Flynn, a seventh-round pick out of LSU in 2008.

"That's an NFL playoff defense he's going against and putting up eye-popping numbers," Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. "He (went) down on the last drive and sealed it. I'm happy for him and happy for this team."

Notes: Ndamukong Suh mocked Rodgers' "title belt" celebration after sacking Flynn near the end of the third quarter. Suh was suspended for two games after he stomped on Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith in Green Bay's win on Thanksgiving. ... Packers veteran left tackle Chad Clifton played for the first time since injuring his hamstring Oct. 9. He played the first quarter. ... Defensive tackle Corey Williams and safety Louis Delmas were inactive for Detroit.

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