Aaron Rodgers thrilled Green Bay Packers fans with a last second 61-yard Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers in the end zone to defeat the Detroit Lions on Thursday Night Football. According to SB Nation, Rodgers pass to Rodgers is something of a rarity in the NFL, given that the Hail Mary pass almost never works due to the eliteness of defensive coverage. Aaron Rodgers’ particular throw, while ending the game on a high note, also may give Green Bay the jolt it needed to redirect itself back onto the path of winning.
Rodgers and company didn’t even get onto the scoreboard during the first half. And the Lions continued to stump the Packers in the third quarter by creating a 20-point lead with their first possession. Green Bay’s defense stripped the ball from Lions’ quarterback Matt Stafford and a handoff from Rodgers to running back James Starks should’ve been an easy transition into the end zone, but it was Randall Cobb who saved the day by leaping onto the ball for a touchdown after Starks fumbled the handoff from Rodgers. Despite the points, it seemed like the Packers and Rodgers were going to lose again thanks to ugly offensive play. With less than six minutes left in the third quarter, however, the near-miss seemed to be just the boost Rodgers needed to stage a comeback.
Rodgers was forced to use all means necessary to get points on the board, including a 17-yard run in which Aaron himself crossed the pylons of the end zone. But then the comeback seemed to hit a snag when time ran out on the clock on what seemingly would be the last play of the game. Green Bay, however, received a blessing in the form of a call on Lions’ defensive end Devin Taylor for a tackle involving a grab of Aaron Rogers’ face mask and against all odds, the Packers had one more shot.
Aaron Rodgers knew he would need to buy time for his receivers to make it down to the end zone but the veteran quarterback had faith in not only the ability of his teammates, but his own arm.
“I knew once I got outside the right that I was going to be able to set up and throw,” Rogers told Fox Sports. And the rest was history. NFL.com reports that coach Mike McCarthy called the Hail Mary pass, “Probably the best throw I’ve seen in my time in the game.”
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers seemed to be on the playoff trajectory at the beginning of the season despite the loss of several key players. After starting the season with six wins, the Packers came back from their bye week and tallied up losses in four of their five games. Many began to question whether Aaron Rodgers still had the moxie to carry the team to a winning season after he struggled with a calf and shoulder injury, and his teammates repeatedly seemed to struggle with pulling in the ball.
While Rodgers is credited with 24 of 36 completions and 289 yards for the game against the Lions, even the Packers coach agrees that Aaron’s Hail Mary completion did more than just secure a win for the Packers. It could be the boost in confidence the struggling team needed.
In an interview with ESPN, McCarthy admitted to watching and re-watching the Hail Mary multiple times, a pass that Aaron Rodgers admits he has never been able to complete in his NFL career prior to Thursday night.
“Outside of the Super Bowl — to me, that’s our greatest regular-season win. It’s more about — obviously, the play — but the reaction on the sideline. That’s the stuff you remember. I get the biggest kick just seeing our guys, the joy that they had and the excitement and the locker room. It was phenomenal.”
[Aaron Rodgers cover image courtesy of Andrew Webber/Getty Images Sports]