The Green Bay Packers looked almost certain to lose their fifth game in their last six contests until a miraculous Hail Mary with no time on the clock gave the team a 27-23 victory over the Detroit Lions.
After Detroit was able to run the clock to under 30 seconds left before punting the ball back to Green Bay, it looked like the Packers’ luck had just about run out. With six seconds left, the team was still too far away to attempt a Hail Mary.
Green Bay attempted a short pass and was then required to lateral the ball to keep the game alive. The ball found its way back to Aaron Rodgers’ hands, who was tackled to seemingly end the game. But a controversial facemask call gave the Packers one more untimed play, and this time they were in range to attempt one final throw at the end zone.
Cue the Aaron Rodgers magic. The Packers’ quarterback bought enough time to allow his receivers to reach the endzone, then heaved a pass 61 yards downfield where tight end Richard Rodgers jumped into the air and came down with the ball for the game-winning touchdown to stun the Lions. The Hail Mary put the finishing touches on overcoming a 20-point deficit for what was undeniably the most improbable victory for the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers era.
The Hail Mary capped a furious second half comeback that could very well have salvaged Green Bay’s hopes at another division title. The Lions started fast, scoring the first 20 points of the game, including a 17-0 halftime advantage.
A defensive breakdown gave Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford an easy touchdown to tight end Eric Ebron. After Rodgers threw an interception on Green Bay’s ensuing possession, Stafford needed just one play to find Calvin Johnson for a 17-yard score and a 17-point lead.
After the first quarter, the Packers’ defense buckled down and kept Green Bay within striking distance. Detroit tacked on a field goal to open the third quarter before the Packers’ offense got going.
With ineffective performances from Eddie Lacy and James Starks, Green bay turned to rookie John Crockett, who was called up to the team the day of the game, to jump start the running game. He helped guide the Packers downfield, and Green Bay benefited from a fortunate roll to score its first touchdown. After Starks fumbled the football, it bounded into the endzone where Randall Cobb recovered the ball.
Detroit’s ensuing possession lasted just one play, as Julius Peppers came off the edge to force a Stafford fumble that was recovered by Jake Ryan. Three plays later, Rodgers found much-maligned receiver Davante Adams for a touchdown that brought Green Bay within six.
After Detroit kicker Matt Prater connected on his third field goal of the night, the Packers found themselves with just six minutes left to work with down by two possessions. In 11 plays that covered 84 yards, Packers offense cut the deficit back to just two after Rodgers scrambled for a 17-yard touchdown.
The Green Bay defense, which had played well all night, gave up a huge third down conversion on the Lions’ next drive that looked like it may have been a dagger. But one more stop gave the Packers the ball with under 30 seconds, and a few plays later Rodgers was able to find his tight end for the walk-off win.
The Lions lost a game in which they quite literally did not trail for a single second of it. Stafford continued his string of solid performances, completing 23/35 passes for 220 yards and 2 scores. Seven different receivers caught a pass for Detroit, including a team high eight receptions and 63 yards from Golden Tate.
For the Packers, it was largely Aaron Rodgers who willed the team to victory. He completed 24/36 passes for 273 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Rodgers also led the team with 27 yards rushing, including his first rushing touchdown of the 2015 season.
Packers wide receivers continued their relatively ineffective play, but tight end Richard Rodgers picked up the slack in Green Bay’s passing game. He had a team high eight catches for 146 yards and the game winning Hail Mary touchdown reception.
Dom Capers’ unit once again was the main reason the Packers were even in a position to pull off the improbable win. The Lions were held to just 306 total yards of offense, and did not score a touchdown after the first quarter. The defense sacked Stafford three times after failing to record one in the two teams’ first matchup of the season.
The Packers improved to 8-4 on the season and are just a half game behind Minnesota in the NFC North pending the results of Sunday’s Vikings-Seahawks game. Next up for Green Bay is a visit from the Tony Romo-less Dallas Cowboys. The Packers needed a spark to jumpstart the team’s offense this year. Hopefully a dramatic, miraculous, last-second win can serve as the catalyst as Green Bay pushes toward the playoffs.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .