(The Sports Xchange) - Aaron Rodgers could not remember ever completing a Hail Mary pass during a game but he will never forget the one he threw on Thursday, a play that might have saved the Green Bay Packers’ season.
Rodgers gunned a 61-yard pass to tight end Richard Rodgers on the final play to give the Packers a stunning 27-23 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
”It’s the greatest feeling,“ said the quarterback, whose team had lost four of their previous five games. ”We’re blessed to be able to play this game, and it reminds you at times how special this game is.
“I love what I do. I‘m very fortunate to be a Green Bay Packer, and you live for days like this, to have a chance at the end and to have something miraculous happen.”
Rodgers scrambled to his right and fired a bomb into the end zone, where his tight end made a two-handed grab. With the Lions rushing only three linemen, he bought time for his receivers to get downfield. He stepped up toward the line of scrimmage and let it fly.
“I was looking at (wide receiver) Davante (Adams), and it was pretty exciting to see Richard jump up there and catch it,” he said.
The tight end, who is 6-foot-4, played basketball at the University of California.
“Richard is the perfect guy for that type of situation with his big body and ability to go up,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
The Packers needed a big break just to have a final chance.
After a couple of laterals on the previous play, the ball wound up in the quarterback’s hands again with no one behind him but as he tried to run forward, defensive end Devin Taylor grabbed his face mask, and flags flew.
That gave the Packers another play with time expired.
Green Bay (8-4) were upset a couple of plays earlier when they felt Detroit safety Isa Abdul-Quddus should have been whistled for pass interference on a downfield throw.
“I think a little karma was saved up after the no P.I.” said Rodgers, who passed for 273 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a 17-yard scramble as Green Bay rallied from a 20-point deficit. He was intercepted once.
Richard Rodgers caught eight passes for 146 yards.
“All I saw was the dude catching the ball,” Lions cornerback Darius Slay said of the final play. “Limited words, I don’t know what to say. I‘m just in shock mode.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two early touchdown passes for the Lions (4-8), who nearly swept the Packers for the first time in 24 years.
“When they were awarded the extra play, it kind of hit me,” Lions running back Ameer Abdullah said. “I was like, ‘Really?’ I know how the Hail Mary stuff goes. Nowadays, it’s more probable that they catch it than it gets batted down.”
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught his 15th career touchdown pass against Green Bay, a record for a Packers opponent, while Detroit kicker Matt Prater added three field goals.
Prater’s 34-yarder with 8:54 left in the third quarter gave Detroit a 20-0 lead.
The Packers needed good fortune to finally break through during their ensuing possession.
Running back James Starks fumbled at the Lions’ five-yard line, but the ball bounced forward, and wide receiver Randall Cobb pounced on it in the end zone.
Green Bay scored again with 4:06 left in the quarter after forcing a Stafford turnover. Rodgers found Adams over the middle for an eight-yard score to make it 20-14.
Prater’s 42-yard field goal restored a two-score lead for the Lions with 7:06 left but the Packers responded with Rodgers’ rushing touchdown with 3:04 remaining.
The Packers did not get the ball back until 23 seconds remained. The Detroit penalty extended the game and the Rodgers duo did the rest.
Editing by Peter Rutherford