The Motor City Miracle.
Whatever it’s nicknamed, it was an instant classic provided by Aaron Rodgers on Thursday night at Ford Field.
Rodgers unleashed one of the greatest throws in NFL history, a 61-yard Hail Mary moonshot to tight end Richard Rodgers on the final untimed play of the game as the Packers beat the Lions, 27-23, wiping out a 20-0 third-quarter deficit. He threw the ball from his own 36 and a leaping Richard Rodgers caught it 4 yards deep into the end zone, making it a 68-yard thriller. And that’s not taking account the very high trajectory Rodgers put on the throw.
“It’s the most amazing game of my life,” a completely out-of-breath Rodgers said on CBS after getting pooped running down the field to celebrate.
The game appeared to be over several times. Green Bay, which had lost four of its last five games after opening the season 6-0, was down by 20 points early in the third quarter and still trailed 23-21 on Rodgers’ 17-yard TD run with 3:04 remaining.
When the Lions couldn’t run out the clock, the Packers got one last chance with 23 seconds left at their own 21 with no timeouts left. After two incompletions, six seconds were all that was left. The Packers called the only play they could: The razzle dazzle throwback lateral play that never works. Rodgers threw 19 yards down the left side to James Jones, who threw back 16 yards to Richard Rodgers, who threw back to Aaron Rodgers at the Packers 24.
He was brought down by defensive end Dean Taylor for no gain and the game appeared to be over as time expired. But Taylor’s right hand was ruled to have grabbed Rodgers’ facemask and the Lions were penalized 15 yards. Replays showed Taylor’s hand appeared to brush Rodgers’ facemask, but it wasn’t blatant.
No time was left on the clock, but by rule the game could not end on a defensive penalty, giving Rodgers, who has one of the strongest arms in the league, one more chance.
On television, Phil Simms said Rodgers could reach the end zone if he could get out of the pocket and get a running start into his throw. That’s exactly what happened. Rodgers avoided the Lions’ pass rush, sprinted out to his right, got the momentum of a running start and lofted the ball very high and very far. Richard Rodgers, a 6-4 tight end, had box-out position in front of a bunch of Lions defenders and Packers receivers.
“I felt good it was going to be in the end zone,” Aaron Rodgers said.
Richard Rodgers went up for the ball and it landed softly in his hands.
Aaron Rodgers didn’t see Richard Rodgers until the last second. By then, all he was thinking was, “Catch it. You got to catch it. When he caught it, I just blanked out. It’s the greatest feeling I’ve had on the field in a long time. It’s the greatest game I’ve been a part of since the Super Bowl.”