Ranking Aaron Rodgers' three Hail Mary completions


Aaron Rodgers hit the Hail Mary hat trick on Sunday, his last-second heave against the Giants in Sunday's Wild Card Playoffs reaffirming his place as a one-face Mount Rushmore in this realm.

Of all the incredible achievements in Rodgers' career, connecting on three Hail Marys in the span of 13 months, all of them in nationally televised games, might be the most remarkable feat of all.

Each of the three throws -- which traveled 172 yards to the end zone in total -- are special little flowers, but let's go ahead and rank them in order of magnificent splendor.

3. 2016 NFC Wild Card Playoffs vs. Giants

This one completed the trifecta and furthered Rodgers' legend in the process, so it deserves points for legacy impact. It is the least difficult of the three throws, all relative of course, but it should be noted that Rodgers had a clean pocket. This wasn't true on his other answered prayers. The real joy in this one is the ball placement. No one throws a receiver open better than Rodgers, and now he's the only guy who can say he did it on a Hail Mary. Look at this placement!

Distance of throw (approx.): 62 yards
Difficulty of throw: 8.5/10
Why it should have never happened: Jared Cook dropped a third-and-2 pass on previous play that would have led to clock expiring had he caught it.
The call: Buck and Aikman. Credit to Buck, who's come a lonnnnnng way in terms of expressing excitement in a big moment. (Helmet Catch, anyone?) Aikman quickly and correctly takes the Giants defense to task for allowing Randall Cobb to get behind the pack.
TDS (Total Drama Score): 8/10 (touchdown came before halftime, but playoff setting adds juice, relevance)

2. 2015 Week 13 vs. Lions

This might be the prettiest throw in NFL history. Rodgers gets flushed out of the pocket, finds some open space and unfurls a ceiling-scraping bomb that sends Lions defenders into a trance-like state. The 61-yard connection to Richard Rodgers is the longest Hail Mary touchdown in NFL history. The touchdown won the game for the Packers, adding to the insanity of it all. Bonus points for being a pass so momentous, it spawns a nickname ("The Miracle In Motown") and an obsessively detailed Wikipedia entry.

Distance of throw (approx.): 67 yards(!)
Difficulty of throw: 9.5/10
Why it should have never happened: The Lions got called for a ticky-tack facemask penalty on Rodgers that extended the game by one play and moved Green Bay into Hail Mary range.
The call: Nantz and Simms. Nantz does a nice job sensing the moment, asking if we were about to see a "vintage" Rodgers moment in a game played one day after the quarterback's 32nd birthday. Seconds after the score, Nantz tells the audience that Richard Rodgers' father was involved in the 1982 "The band is out on the field!" game between Stanford and Cal (another game with a detailed Wikipedia entry!)
TDS (Total Drama Score): 9/10 (A regular-season game, sure, but this was the moment of the 2015 season. At least until ...)

1. 2015 NFC Divisional Playoffs vs. Cardinals

If the pass in Detroit was the prettiest in NFL history, this might have been the most difficult. The Cardinals, who saw what happened when the Lions rushed just three against No. 12, went after Rodgers but still couldn't keep him from escaping the pocket. With Markus Golden closing quick, Rodgers uncorked a pass his contemporaries would label unfair or even criminal. Given the pressure and his body positioning, this throw should not have been possible. And yet ...

Distance of throw (approx.): 60 yards
Difficulty of throw: 10/10
Why it should have never happened: The Packers were facing a 4th-and-20 from their own 4-yard line with 55 seconds to play and no timeouts. The 61-yard pass to Jeff Janis to get them in position to attempt a desperation heave was nearly as miraculous as Janis' TD moments later.
The call: Michaels and Collinsworth. I'll always love how Michaels -- the best play-by-play guy in the business -- kind of loses it. "Oh, please! That's insane!" Collinsworth quickly and succinctly explains the greatness of Rodgers' throw: "That may be one of the great throws ever made! Moving to his left, falling away and launching a perfect throw!" I also love Collinsworth's three-second long "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" as the world attempts to discern whether Janis maintained possession in the end zone.
TDS (Total Drama Score): 10/10 (Ironically, this was the only one of the three games the Packers lost, but it doesn't spoil one of the great moments in NFL postseason history.)

One last look, in triple split-screen. This is not luck: