Hail Mary: Richard Rodgers Makes the Catch

Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers talks about when he thought he might actually make the game-winning catch, what it means to go down in Green Bay Packers history and if he just passed his dad as the most famous person in their family.

DETROIT – In their final practice of the week, the Green Bay Packers run a segment called “Last Eight Plays.”

The last of those plays is always a Hail Mary. And since the Packers lost at Seattle on the Fail Mary early in 2012 and gave up a touchdown to the Giants on the final play of the first half in the 2011 playoffs, the play really is designed for the defense to bat down the ball to preserve a victory.

“We usually let the defense catch it because we don’t want to get anyone hurt,” tight end Richard Rodgers said.

On Thursday night, Rodgers played the role of hero, hauling in Aaron Rodgers’ 61-yard Hail Mary on an untimed down as the Packers shocked the Detroit Lions 27-23 at Ford Field.

A Hail Mary is organized chaos. For the Packers, the play is meant to go to Davante Adams to take advantage of Adams’ leaping ability.

“It’s written in the playbook that it’s my job to box out and Davante’s supposed to jump and I’m supposed to wait for a tip,” Rodgers said. “I might get an MA (missed assignment) for that. I’ll take it, I guess.”

For Richard Rodgers, the opportunity was too good to pass up. In the end zone, the Lions had six defensive backs against four Packers wide receivers. However, there was no one within 5 yards of Richard Rodgers as he backed into the end zone and made a relatively uncontested catch for the winning points.

As Rodgers tumbled to the ground, Randall Cobb was the first to pile on top, followed by Adams … followed by everyone else.

“Yeah, I couldn’t breathe down there,” Rodgers said. “I thought I was going to die for a second. Randall was the first one on top of me, and then I just felt a bunch of weight come down and I knew the whole team was over there. That was pretty crazy.”

It was the culmination of a huge night for Rodgers, who caught eight passes for 146 yards. He had catches of 26 and 11 yards on the touchdown drive that pulled the Packers within 23-21 with 3:04 remaining.

It was the biggest play of Rodgers’ two-year NFL career and perhaps the biggest play in family history. His father played on the Cal team that beat Stanford on that crazy series of laterals in 1982.

“I have no words for it,” he said. “I don’t really know. I just knew that we needed a play and I made it.”

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.

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