Green Bay Packers: Miracle in Motown

When it comes to having a crazy finish to a football game, the 27-23 victory by the Green Bay Packers over the Detroit Lions on Thursday night will be hard to top.

Saved by a facemask penalty against Detroit’s Devin Taylor on what would have been the final play of the game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to get one more shot at a miraculous finish.

Rodgers did not disappoint either.

The Packers were on their own 39 yard line and Rodgers was going to need some time to launch a pass to the opposite end zone. That’s if he could get it there.

Rodgers was able elude the three-man rush, first going left, then scrambling to the right and then running up to launch his moon-rocket pass that arced way up into the air and traveled close to 70 yards.

Tight end Richard Rodgers of the Packers leaped up and caught the ball at it’s highest point in the end zone surrounded by several players from both teams.

The result? The 6’4″, 272-pound Rodgers had unbelievably secured a 61-yard touchdown pass to end the game.

“My goodness,” coach Mike McCarthy said as he talked to the media after the game. “Just before the ball was snapped, we were talking on the headphones that if anyone can get it there, Aaron can.

“What a great throw…what a great catch. A big-time play at the last possible moment of the game. We needed this.”

Yes, indeed. The Packers really did need this. The team had lost four out of the last five games going into the game against the Lions.

Not only that, but in three of those four losses, the Packers had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds of those contests.

But the Packers couldn’t deliver. At least not until Thursday night.

For awhile during the game, it looked like the Packers were going to get blown out by the Lions. Green Bay was down 20-0 midway through the third quarter.

Luck and good fortune helped the Packers on their first score. As he was running towards the end zone of the Lions, running back James Starks fumbled near the 5 on a strip by  defensive back Isa Abdul-Quddus.

The ball bounced forward into the middle of the end zone and wide receiver Randall Cobb jumped on it the ball for the touchdown.

In less than two minutes, the Packers had another opportunity for a touchdown thanks to a sack-strip by Julius Peppers on quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Lions.

Seconds later Rodgers threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams to make it 20-14.

The Lions added a field goal midway through the fourth quarter to make the score 23-14. Rodgers closed the score to 23-21 with around three minutes left in the game when he scampered 17 yards for a touchdown.

That led to the incredible finish to the game.

The Lions have had a history of losing big leads to the Packers over the years at home.

In a recent story, Jerry Kramer talked to me about the 1965 Packers. The Packers played the Lions in the fifth week of that ’65 season at old Tigers Stadium.

Similar to what happened on Thursday night, the Packers were dominated by the Lions in the first half and were down 21-3.

Kramer didn’t play in the first half of that game, as the Packers were slowly working him back into the lineup after No. 64 had gone through nine operations due to intestinal issues that offseason.

No. 64 had also missed almost all of the 1964 season because of that situation.

Jerry blocking Alex

But with Kramer back in the starting lineup, the Packers stormed back to score 28 unanswered points in the second half to register a 31-21 victory.

Then there was the 1993 Wild Card playoff game at the Silverdome. Quarterback Brett Favre threw across the field to a wide open Sterling Sharpe for a 40-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of that postseason game, as the Packers won 28-24.

In addition to all that, there is the Rodgers to Rodgers connection. Besides having the same last name, both Aaron and Richard went to the University of California.

The father of Richard Rodgers, Richard Sr., was part of the event which became to be known as “The Play”, as Cal battled it’s long-time rival Stanford in 1982.

Stanford was ahead 20-19 with four seconds to go in the game when they kicked off to Cal via a squib kick. Rodgers was part of a sequence which involved five laterals (including two by Rodgers) and covered 55 yards. Eventually Kevin Moen of the Golden Bears scored, as he ran through the Stanford band which had come onto the field.

The result? A 25-20 improbable victory.

Then there was presence of Golden Tate of the Lions in the game last night. Packer Nation surely remembers the “Fail Mary” play when Tate was then with the Seattle Seahawks.

The replacement officials ruled that Tate caught a last-second 24-yard pass from Russell Wilson, even though it appeared that the ball was actually intercepted by M.D. Jennings of the Packers.

That terrible call led to a 14-12 win by the Seahawks and also thankfully ended the replacement officials era.

Tate had to watch from the sideline on Thursday night, as Aaron Rodgers launched his 70-yard moon-shot missile to Richard Rodgers.

McCarthy noted the difference between those two plays.

“I’ll say this,” McCarthy said. “At least our guy really caught the ball.”

Yes, Rodgers caught the ball. The Packers also caught a break in stealing this game from the Lions.

Even in this stirring last-second victory, it’s quite obvious that the Packers have a lot of work to do to improve things, especially on offense.

The now 8-4 Packers now have 10 days to rest and get ready for the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on December 13.

The Packers are hoping that their offensive line will be back to full strength for that game. Going into the game against the Lions, both right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Bryan Bulaga were inactive due to injuries.

Then center Corey Linsley went out of the game with an ankle injury. Left tackle David Bakhtiari also left the game briefly with a knee injury.

Bottom line, the Packers have some added time to get their injured players ready to play versus Dallas, plus can continue to improve the efficiency and production of their offense.

It’s a lot easier to do those things coming off a miraculous victory like the one which occurred on Thursday night in Detroit.

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