In an important game for the Packers against the Detroit Lions, things looked terrible early on with Green Bay down 20-0 early in the second half. However, a late rally was topped with an amazing Hail Mary from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers.
While the throw was amazing, the Packers probably would not have completed the pass if not for four glaring mistakes made by the Lions on the play.
1. Calvin Johnson was on the sideline.
Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards explained on ESPN Radio that in a Hail Mary situation, he would want All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson on defence for the Lions because of his great leaping ability, much like the Lions use Johnson in onside-kick situations.
“I’m going to put mu best jumper in the game, to knock the ball down,” Edwards explained. “That should be Calvin Johnson.”
So where was Johnson? Edwards wondered if he was tired or hurt. However, cameras did catch Johnson standing on the sideline and falling after watching the final play.
2. The defensive line allowed Rodgers to roll out to the wrong side.
In order to get the ball into the end zone, Rodgers was going to have to throw the ball about 70 yards, typically the upper-limit for most top quarterbacks. But even though Rodgers is known for his strong arm, he is 32 and in order to get the maximum distance out of his arm, he needs his body moving in the right direction.
In this case, that means, Rodgers will want to be moving to his right and towards the line of scrimmage. If the Lions can force Rodgers to his left, forcing him to throw back across his body, he almost certainly would not be able to get the ball all the way to the end zone.
At first, it looked like the Lions were going to force Rodgers left. However, once he got past the last rushing lineman, there were no defenders between Rodgers and the spot he wanted to get to, creating the perfect situation for a good throw.
3. The Lions completely wasted two defenders and nobody knows why.
For some reason, the Lions placed two defenders near the sidelines 15-20 yards downfield. Theses two players were behaving as if the Packers were going to try to throw a pass to the sideline to stop the clock.
The only problem — and it is a big one — is that there was no time on the clock! It was an untimed down and the Packers’ only hopes were a defensive penalty or a Hail Mary into the end zone.
4. Nobody put a body on Richard Rodgers.
As a defender in the end zone on a Hail Mary, there are two responsibilities: 1) make sure none of the receivers get a clean jump and that means getting a body on each guy (nobody is going to call pass interference); and 2) knock the ball down. The Lions did neither.
In fact, replays showed that Josh Byrnes (No. 57) was on tight end Richard Rodgers, but when Byrnes saw the ball go up, he turned and ran to the scrum the end zone, leaving the tight end unguarded. This allowed Rodgers to freely back up into the end zone, use his entire 6-foot-4 frame to jump up and grab the ball unchallenged.
All of this led to one of the more memorable Hail Mary passes you will ever see.
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