DETROIT – All of a sudden, the Packers are a hot team again, all because of one play that salvaged a 27-23 win and canceled a month-long feeling of despair.
Aaron Rodgers’ 61-yard, Hail Mary pass landed softly in the hands of Richard Rodgers. It was more than the last play of the game, it was an extra play in the game, the result of a facemask penalty against the Lions that extended the game for one, fateful, untimed down.
“We’ve been on the flip side of that. We know how it feels,” Aaron Rodgers told TV in the moments immediately following the game. He was obviously referring to a loss the Packers had painfully suffered in Seattle in 2012.
“I can’t believe Richard caught it. When he caught it, I blacked out. I know it’s the greatest feeling I’ve had in a long time,” he added.
The game began with the Packers falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter. The Lions threatened to make it a rout.
“We were terrible in the first half. In the second half, we got it going. Huge win for us,” Rodgers said.
At 8-4, the Packers would move into a tie with the Vikings for first place in the NFC North, should the Vikings lose to the Seahawks on Sunday. The even greater significance of the win is it might’ve salvaged a season that was quickly slipping away.
“We were convinced we were going to win the game. This team has a lot of fight. The number of injuries we had to overcome is obvious,” an emotionally charged Mike McCarthy said in his postgame press conference.
“I knew once I got out to the right I would be able to set up and throw. I felt good about the throw getting to the end zone,” Rodgers said. He heaved the ball about 70 yards, but it was the height of the throw that bought his receivers time to get down under it.
“When you throw with that arc, you have a chance. It gives guys a chance to fight for position. Richard is the perfect guy for that type of situation, big body,” McCarthy said.
“At least our guy really caught the ball,” McCarthy joked, referring to the play in Seattle, infamously known as the “Fail Mary.”
The Packers practice such zany plays in their final practice before games. It’s known as a “last eight segment.”
Two third-quarter touchdowns triggered the rally. Julius Peppers’ sack-strip of Matt Stafford put the Packers in point-blank range to cut the deficit to 20-14, which Rodgers did with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams.
“There was some frustration,” Rodgers said of the Packers’ halftime locker room. “We knew we had to make one play. Sometimes one play will galvanize you and get you going. After the Davante touchdown catch, I think guys began believing we could get it done.”
The issue now is: Can the Packers sustain this momentum?
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