The best of all possible worlds in the playoff chase is to control one’s own destiny.
But you have to win the game.
Backup QB Matt Flynn, who led a miraculous comeback against Dallas a week ago, threw a ‘Pick 6’ and then fumbled deep in his own territory in the closing minutes.
The miscues turned into 14 points ended up as a 38-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.
There was no meteorological advantage for the Packers on the frozen tundra.
The opposing Pittsburgh Steelers are used to the cold and the snow as well.
Since both teams were, albeit improbably, still in the hunt for the second season…this would be no walkover.
And it most certainly was not.
But, depending on the Chicago Bears’ fortunes in Philly Sunday night, the Pack is still viable with a 7-7-1 record.
A Bear loss and a Packer victory next week against them will give them the NFC North Division crown.
The Detroit Lions, in the driver’s seat for that distinction, have imploded and lost at home today.
Green Bay got on the board first with Flynn passing and Eddie Lacy running.
The tough, Steeler ‘D’ against the run meant there were more passes than runs on this day.
A solid drive on GB’s third possession was finished off when Flynn hit Jarrett Boykin for a five yard touch in the right corner of the end zone on a back shoulder toss.
Big Ben Roesthlisberger answered with a drive of his own, also throwing more passes as the snowflakes continued to fall.
The Steelers tied it up with a second left with a Le’Veon Bell one yard plunge.
Much had been made during the week as Pittsburgh took Bell at Number 48 in the NFL draft.
They passed on Lacy and the Pack scooped him up 13 picks later.
Lacy made them pay with a 14 yard scamper and barrel roll TD for a 14-7 Green Bay lead with 1:53 left in the half.
Pittsburgh spent the majority of time before the intermission in GB territory on the strength of Antonio Brown’s kickoff returns.
They took advantage of that great field position and drew to within 14-10 with a Shaun Suisham 31-yard field goal.
Big Ben came out smoking to open the second half and he made quick work of the drive.
Taking advantage of the fact that linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones both left the field with injuries.
Matthews re-injured his thumb when he sacked the massive Roethlisberger in the first half.
The Steelers used a successful fake punt to keep the drive alive and went on to score with a rare scramble for a 13-yard score by the veteran QB.
That made it 17-14 with 11:51 left in the third quarter.
The Packers made some headway in getting the lead back, but the drive stalled in Steeler territory.
Punter Tim Masthay pooched his punt and it downed on the two-yard line.
The aforementioned Bell was stripped by A.J. Hawk and gave Green Bay a first and goal from the three.
They couldn’t do it and was settling for a game-tying FG.
Mason Crosby’s chip shot was blocked and an illegal batting infraction gave the Pack new life at the two.
This time, they gave it to Lacy on the rookie RB responded with record-setting, 10th touchdown of the season.
Earlier, he had eclipsed John Brockington’s rushing mark set in 1971.
That pushed the Flynn-led Packers to a 21-17 lead with 5:19 left in the third stanza.
The Green Bay ‘D,’ which had been porous at times this year; picked the worst time to backslide.
That left it up to the Steelers to make a move.
Which they did.
They used another solid drive and an 11-yard scoring pass to little-used TE Matt Spaeth for a 24-21 Pittsburgh lead with 1:55 left in the third.
A mix-up on the next Packer drive led to disaster.
Flynn was a tad short on a route and Cortez Allen stepped in front for a 40-yard ‘Pick 6’ just 18 seconds later.
That made it 31-21 at the 1:37 mark.
Hawk got his first interception of the year on the next Steeler drive and GB closed the gap to one touchdown with a 22-yard FG by Crosby with 12:04 to play.
With Lacy sidelined with a tweak of his bum ankle, James Starks responded by shredding a formidable rushing defense.
He was gobbling up yards by the bushel and the Pack drove for the tying score.
Fullback John Kuhn went the last three feet on a little misdirection and the game was tied at 31 with 7:14 to play.
The Packers had the ball with three minutes to play.
Flynn fumbled the ball on a third and eight from the eight and Bell scored to make it 38-31 with 1:25 to play.
Micah Hyde ripped off a 70-yard kickoff return and a Flynn pass to Jordy Nelson and Starks runs gave them a first and goal from the one.
A motion penalty on the right side of the line and 10 second runoff thwarted the near-miracle finish.
The Pack closes out the regular season at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, December 29.
Kickoff is set for noon.