One play after a borderline call extended the game, Aaron Rodgers connected on a miraculous 61-yard Hail Mary throw to Richard Rodgers with no time remaining to beat the Lions 27-23 on Thursday night. The play completed a 20-point comeback and pushed the Packers to 8-4 on the season.
"When he caught it, I blacked out," Aaron Rodgers told CBS after the game. "It's the greatest feeling I've had on the field in a long time."
The Packers were 79 yards away from the end zone with six seconds left -- and they somehow won the game. Rodgers had thrown the ball on a desperate lateral play as time was expiring when Detroit's Devin Taylor appeared to grab Rodgers' facemask. After watching the play on replay, it was questionable whether Taylor actually got hold of the facemask. The penalty extended the game by one play, and the brothers Rodgers did the rest (Note: they are not actually brothers).
This play was not all about luck. Few quarterbacks, if any, could throw the ball as far and high as Aaron Rodgers did on the final play. The height of the throw allowed his teammates time to get in position, and his tight end perfectly timed his leap to catch the winning pass.
It's a play that will be remembered for as long as professional football is played, and it could not be a bigger gut-punch loss for the Lions. Detroit was one miracle play away from its first season sweep of the Packers since 1991. The Lions looked ready to win their fourth straight game, and were entertaining playoff dreams. The Packers, meanwhile, appeared to be heading to their fifth loss in six games.
"What a great game to be a part of. We needed a win like that," coach Mike McCarthy said.
It was a hard result to imagine for much of Thursday's game. The Lions led 20-0 after a long field goal drive to start the second half. The ensuing 25 minutes of game time represented the biggest comeback of Rodgers' career. He erased the memory of a scoreless first half where the Packers were held under 100 yards.
One play can do so much. The Packers could be back in first place in the NFC North by the end of the weekend, and look like a far safer pick to make the playoffs now. They were set to face a miserable 10 days of questions about their stagnant offense and their curious running attack, which kept Eddie Lacy on the sideline for most of Thursday.
Instead, they can bask in the glow of one of the most memorable finishes in NFL history.