Lions defensive end Devin Taylor (98) reaches in on Green Bay
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and is called for a face
mask during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday,
Dec. 3, 2015, in Detroit.
DETROIT — It's a play Mike McCarthy
says the Packers practice every Saturday — because they've been
victimized by this type of desperation heave in the past and want
their defense to be prepared to stop it.
"I'm not real happy when the
offense gets the ball," the Green Bay coach said.
But McCarthy needed the Hail Mary to
work this time, and the Detroit Lions gave Richard Rodgers a bit too
much room in the front of the end zone.
Rodgers came down with the 61-yard toss
from Aaron Rodgers for a touchdown with no time on the clock Thursday
night, giving the Packers a 27-23 victory. Detroit appeared to have
the game won when Aaron Rodgers was tackled about 75 yards from the
end zone, but Lions defensive end Devin Taylor was called for a
facemask, giving the Packers one more chance from their own 39.
The Lions, fearing the Packers (8-4)
would start lateraling and force Detroit to make a tackle, did not put
6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson in the game for defensive purposes. Detroit
had plenty of people in the end zone, but the Lions may have misjudged
the high throw. Linebacker Josh Bynes dropped back away from Richard
Rodgers to cover another potential target, allowing the tight end to
drift into the end zone and haul the ball in at the front of a pack of
players, with no Lions in great position to knock the pass down.
"It's written in the playbook that
my job is to box out and Davante (Adams) is supposed to jump and I'm
supposed to wait for a tip," Rodgers said.
There was no need for all that.
Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (82) reaches to catch the game
winning pass on the last play of an NFL football game against
the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, in Detroit. The
Packers defeated the Lions 27-23.
After the touchdown, the Packers took a
knee rather than kick an extra point.
Green Bay (8-4) is now only a half-game
behind first-place Minnesota in the NFC North. The Lions (4-8) had a
three-game winning streak snapped.
There were 6 seconds left when Green
Bay snapped the ball from its own 21. Aaron Rodgers threw to James
Jones about 20 yards downfield, then the Packers began lateraling. The
ball got all the way back to Aaron Rodgers near the original line of
scrimmage, and for a split-second, the game appeared over when the
Lions closed in on him.
Taylor, however, was flagged for a
facemask, giving Green Bay an untimed down.
Here are a few things we learned from
Green Bay's dramatic victory:
HISTORICAL PARALLEL: Richard Rodgers'
father played a role in another famous game-winning touchdown. Richard
Rodgers Sr. threw two laterals on the final play of the Cal-Stanford
game in 1982, when the Golden Bears went through the Stanford band and
reached the end zone.
The younger Richard Rodgers — and
Aaron Rodgers — both went to Cal as well.
DEFENSIVE PUSH: Green Bay's banged-up
offensive line is in rough shape. Taylor had two sacks as part of a
Detroit front that was overwhelming at times.
"It appeared that he was a force
out there for an extended period of time," Lions coach Jim
Green Bay guard T.J. Lang (shoulder)
and tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) were inactive for the game, and center
Corey Linsley left in the first half with an ankle injury.
COMPLAINTS: Caldwell disputed the
facemask call. A replay appeared to show contact, but it wasn't
"It was called, so therefore it is
and we've just got to find a way to make the play," Caldwell
LUCKY BOUNCE: The end of the fourth
quarter wasn't the only point when fortune smiled on the Packers.
Their first touchdown of the game came when Green Bay running back
James Starks fumbled into the end zone, and receiver Randall Cobb fell
on the ball for a TD.
CRUCIAL SCRAMBLE: The Lions looked out
of sorts defensively on a crucial scramble by Rodgers. He ran for a
17-yard touchdown on third-and-long to make the score 23-21 Detroit
with 3:04 remaining.
DETROIT — Green Bay and Detroit are
without some starting offensive linemen Thursday night.
Packers guard T.J. Lang and tackle
Bryan Bulaga and Lions center Travis Swanson are inactive. Each player
was questionable on the injury report.
Lane Taylor starts in Lang's place and
Don Barclay replaces Bulaga for the Packers. Detroit put Manny Ramirez
in Swanson's place.
The Packers are also without cornerback
Damarious Randall, the reigning NFL defensive rookie of the month,
after listing him as questionable. Green Bay does have starting center
Corey Linsley in the lineup after listing him as questionable.
Detroit has banged-up players, who were
listed as questionable, available to play such as receiver Calvin
Johnson, safety Glover Quin, offensive guard Larry Warford and kicker