GREEN BAY - The Packers wanted one more play, but it would be the last play, leaving Mike McCarthy and his team to wonder if this season will include one more meaningful play.
"We needed one more play tonight," McCarthy said following one of the most gut-wrenching losses of the season, 38-31, to the team the Packers beat in the Super Bowl three years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What the Packers need most now is a Philadelphia win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football. It would set the stage for a winner-take-all game between the Packers and the Bears in Soldier Field next Sunday. The winner would claim the NFC North title, should the Eagles beat the Bears.
"The message in the locker room I'm embarrassed by because I didn't know Detroit lost the game," McCarthy said.
Did his team know a Bears loss would give the Packers a win-and-in scenario next week?
"I'm sure they know now but they didn't know when I talked to them because I didn't know," McCarthy said.
Here's where it all stands: • The Lions are history following their loss to the Giants; it's over in Detroit.
• With a win tonight in Philadelphia, the Bears will clinch the NFC North title and the Packers will be eliminated from playoff contention.
• A Bears loss to the Eagles will give the Packers a chance to win their third consecutive division title and make the loss to the Steelers meaningless. Had the Packers beaten the Steelers, the Packers would've still had to win in Chicago to claim the division title and its playoff berth.
Sunday's game included some of the zaniest action of the season. The Packers got a touchdown after the Steelers had blocked a Mason Crosby, point-blank field goal attempt, then the Packers faced a let-him-score decision late in the game, with the game tied at 31-31 and the Steelers able to execute a walk-off field goal attempt.
Did the Packers allow rookie running back Le'Veon Bell to score from a yard out?
"We talked about that, yes," McCarthy said.
It left 1:25 to play and that appeared to be plenty of time for a rally following a 70-yard kickoff return by Micah Hyde. Matt Flynn quickly moved the Packers, who were without a time out, to the Steelers 1-yard line. Overtime seemed to be in the bag, until tackle Don Barclay was guilty of illegal procedure, which not only moved the ball back to the 6-yard line but necessitated a 10-second runoff that took the clock down to 10 seconds.
"We knew there'd be a runoff and the clock would run. We should've gotten two plays off. We went as fast as we could," Flynn said.
The Packers were unable to get the ball snapped until four seconds remained and that made Flynn's incomplete pass for Jarrett Boykin the final play of the game.
McCarthy's voice betrayed any cover he up; he was drained. At one point he said, "I'm just trying to get through this press conference."
The questions came.
"The offense was aligned at 10 seconds and the play was called. They were set," McCarthy said with an edge in his voice.
Pittsburgh's game-winning touchdown was the result of a Matt Flynn fumble that was forced by Troy Polamalu on a third-and-8 play from the Packers' 10-yard line. Flynn couldn't find an open receiver so he took off down the left sideline and tried to split two defenders when Polamalu arrived and stripped the ball.
"I've got to protect the ball. It's not my thing to split defenders but I was trying to win the game and I wasn't thinking about ball security," Flynn said.
"I'm fine with Matt's decision," McCarthy said.
Flynn was 21 of 39 for 232 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 69.6 passer rating in some of the most severe weather conditions in recent Lambeau Field history. His third-quarter interception resulted in a 40-yard touchdown return by cornerback Cortez Allen. It was a game-changer that gave the Steelers a 10-point lead, but the Packers would rally to tie the game with 7:14 to play.
The interception was the result of tight end Andrew Quarless bumping into Flynn as he was attempting to throw the ball.
"It's probably my fault. We haven't run that protection. That's an example of a guy not having a lot of reps. You can put that on me," McCarthy said.
Blame? It won't be necessary should the Eagles beat the Bears.
MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.
Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.
Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.
"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."
On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.
Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.
The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.
"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."
Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer.
NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.
They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.
But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.
And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.
That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.
It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.
"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate.
Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday.
You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.
All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.
That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.
"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."
If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.
MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.
"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Rockfleet Broadcasting / Northland Television, Inc. and By Request Web Designs shall not be held responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, or misprints.