GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Packers are finishing strong at just the right time of year.
Two straight rousing, come-from-behind wins has Green Bay buzzing about playoff possibilities again. Two more victories, starting Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, would ensure another NFC North crown in Titletown.
The second halves of games had been troublesome at times this season. But then Green Bay's defense shut out Atlanta in the second half of a 22-21 win two weekends ago. Then the Packers (7-6-1) went on a 34-10 binge after halftime to take advantage of Dallas' meltdown in a 37-36 victory last week.
Even coach Mike McCarthy seems pleasantly puzzled by the turnaround.
"If I knew that, I'd get it done in the early part of the game," McCarthy said this week. "I don't have an answer for you there."
The goal every week is to play four good quarters. But at the least, McCarthy is getting the desired result, even if he's first had to endure a couple stomach-churning first halves.
Against the Cowboys, backup quarterback Matt Flynn led Green Bay to touchdowns on the first five possessions of the second half. Cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams came up with crucial interceptions in the game's waning minutes to help finish off a memorable rally from a 23-point halftime deficit.
"A lot of it is resolve, and creating a mindset that you're going to finish, and you're going to focus in a little bit more in that part of the game," secondary coach Darren Perry said Friday. "I think that focus is heightened a little bit, and then we've just been opportunistic. Guys doing their jobs and not having the critical breakdowns in the end."
This is happening without franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, out since fracturing his left collarbone during the first series of a 27-20 loss to the Bears on Nov. 4. He'll miss the Steelers game after officially being ruled out Friday, leaving Flynn to start again.
Things would be easier with Rodgers back, though Green Bay's confidence is growing having to play without him.
"I think we're very confident, especially after what we did in the second half in Dallas, scoring that many points in a half," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "We know Matt can make plays ... If we do our part, the defense is going to be fine."