The tension built all week in Green Bay as it appeared Aaron Rodgers had at least a chance of playing in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, now six weeks removed from a broken collarbone suffered back in early November.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy let the air out of the balloon Friday afternoon, however, after the team officially declared him out of its Week 15 game.
"Frankly, it's been a difficult morning going through the conversation with Aaron and Dr. McKenzie," said McCarthy. "He feels like he's ready to play. He's had a good week of preparation. He did very little today.
"He's very disappointed. He's frustrated. But speaking with Dr. McKenzie, this is the right decision."
While Rodgers did undergo a medical evaluation on Friday morning, he did not have another scan on his collarbone, and ultimately the organization decided they couldn't take the risk of Rodgers being exposed to further injury.
"It's not the easiest thing to sit there and tell your franchise quarterback he can't play in the game," said McCarthy. "This is clearly a decision that's made in the best interests of Aaron Rodgers."
So the Packers enter Sunday's contest with Matt Flynn as their starting quarterback for a third consecutive week. And even though the Packers don't have their preferred player behind center, the circumstances facing the team remain the same.
The Packers are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in as they hope to win as many games as possible with three games left in the season, and likewise hope that the Detroit Lions lose at least once more in order to win the NFC North division crown.
"We'd love to see (Rodgers) out there, but we have a lot of confidence in Matt," said center Evan Dietrich-Smith. "He's been gaining confidence since he's been here, and we're going to go out there and win with the guys that we've got."
Since signing with the Packers as a free agent before the Week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings, Flynn entered that game in relief of backup Scott Tolzien and led the Packers to a tie.
In the next two weeks, Flynn had a rough game in a blowout loss to the Detroit Lions and then directed the Packers to their first win since Rodgers was injured last week against the Atlanta Falcons.
Green Bay will be looking to carry some of that momentum into Dallas against a team that's in much the same boat, looking to improve its standing in the race for a playoff berth.
"We know they're talented," said Flynn. "We know they're at home. Their backs are against the wall a little bit, and we know they're going to come out swinging, so we expect them to come out fast with that home crowd behind them and play well."
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