The Packers, all but left for dead after a dismal showing on Thanksgiving led to questions about the team's desire, rebounded from a 21-10 halftime deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 22-21 on Sunday.
Suddenly, the Packers are just a half-game behind Detroit in the NFC North race.
"We knew going into this that we needed to win this game for one and keep winning on after, but we also knew we needed some help from somewhere," quarterback Matt Flynn said. "But we can't worry about that. We weren't scoreboard watching or anything like that. We needed to take care of our jobs and we need to parlay this win into getting ready and preparing well for Dallas."
It was the best-case scenario for the Packers: They beat the Falcons and the Lions lost at Detroit. The Lions (7-6) lead the NFC North, with Green Bay (6-6-1) on their heels. Chicago (6-6) hosts Dallas on Monday night.
"I like our opportunity in Dallas. That's really where my mind is," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I clearly understand how the rankings go and it's great the Lions lost and we're happy about that, but it's about stacking success. It's tough to win in this league. We were reminded of it again today. We were reminded of that in our last five opportunities. It's great the Lions lost, but we're about the Dallas Cowboys. They play in Chicago tomorrow. We hope they just beat the heck out of each other and go for it. We're going to get ready for these Cowboys."
The finishing schedule gives the Packers more than a puncher's chance to salvage the season after an 0-4-1 stretch. Green Bay plays at Dallas (7-5), hosts Pittsburgh (5-8) and finishes at Chicago (6-6). All of those games are winnable. Then again, they're all losable, regardless of whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play.
Detroit hosts Baltimore (7-6) and the Giants (5-8) before visiting Minnesota (3-9-1). None of those games are gimmes. After the Dallas game, Chicago plays at Cleveland (4-9) and Philadelphia (8-5) and hosts Green Bay (6-6-1).
"I think we're lucky to be where we're at, honestly, with the past month that we've had," guard T.J. Lang said. "But, hey, man, you take it week by week. We knew this week was a must-win game for us if we wanted to be playing in the postseason, and we took a step there. We've still got three games left. Our mindset is to take it week by week and prepare as hard as we can throughout the week and go out on Sunday and do whatever we have to do to get a win."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.