Matt Flynn will always live on in Detroit Lions lore as the man that single-handedly ruined the 2011-12 season. Overstatement? Perhaps. But remember the scene, it was Jan. 1 2012, the final game of the season. The Lions were once again in Green Bay late in the year, for a game that did not matter to the Packers. The Packers had already clinched a first-round bye and first seed in the division. Most of the Packers starters never played in the game. But for the Lions, the game did matter, they took the field that day against the Packers B-team with a chance to clinch a #5 seed in the playoffs with a win.
This mattered because the #6 seed would travel to New Orleans to play the Saints - a team no one wanted to play. As a #5 seed, the Lions would have played the NY Giants, and even though the Giants did go on to win the Super Bowl that year, I felt at the time that the Giants were a much better match-up for the Lions.
Yet on that cold January day, came one of the more infamous games of recent memory. The Lions offense played with trademark brilliance. Stafford completed 36 of 59 pass attempts for a video-game-like 520 yards and 5 touchdowns! The Lions scored 41 points!
The problem? Mr. Nobody, Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn decided to have the game of his life. Flynn came out of nowhere to go 31 of 44 for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns! The Packers scored 45 points and defeated the Lions, sending them to New Orleans where they promptly lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Saints.
Flynn's performance was one of the best "seizing the opportunity" examples I've ever seen. His one-game highlight reel earned Flynn a three year, $26 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks the next year. Hopefully he sent some of that cash as presents to the Lions' terrible defensive secondary.
Flynn followed up his one-game resume by running into a buzzsaw that was Seattle rookie phenom Russell Wilson. Failing to beat out Wilson for the starting job in Seattle, Flynn has now been traded to the Oakland Raiders, a graveyard for quarterbacks this past decade. If Flynn beats out Terrelle Pryor for the starting job, he'll be the 16th starting quarterback for the Raiders since 2003. Here's hoping the best for him. If he can ruin a Lions season, the least he can do is go on to have a hall of fame career.