Tim Fuller/USA TODAY

Hail Mary: The Green Bay Packers’ Unsung Hero

Don Barclay made a key block that made the game-winning touchdown possible for the Green Bay Packers.

DETROIT – Aaron Rodgers threw the pass.

Richard Rodgers made the catch.

Don Barclay was the unsung hero.

To make the game-winning Hail Mary possible, Aaron Rodgers needed time and an escape route. Barclay, who was in the lineup for injured right tackle Bryan Bulaga, provided both.

On the final play of the Green Bay Packers’ stunning 27-23 victory over Detroit, the Lions sent three rushers at Rodgers. Lined up at left defensive end was Jason Jones, who initially split the double-team block of Barclay and guard Lane Taylor, who formed the fill-in right side of the offensive line.

Rodgers took a few steps to his left, then changed directions. That gave Barclay a second shot at Jones, and this time he didn’t miss. As Jones reached out in hopes of grabbing Rodgers around the 25-yard line, Barclay leveled Jones – driving him backward and down at about the 20.

“I tried to hook Jason Jones on the end of the line and make him go inside so Aaron could extend the play,” Barclay said. “He came inside real quick and I tried to peel back on him and push him by and let Aaron escape out.”

That gave Rodgers all the time he needed to uncork a pass that traveled about 70 yards in the air and into the waiting mitts of Richard Rodgers for the stunning touchdown.

“In that situation, you’re kind of looking for a pocket to either move up in or move out,” Rodgers said. “And I kind of moved left, felt the guy from the right closing, I was able to give ground and let Donnie make a block on him. As I got outside to my right, I knew that (Haloti) Ngata was not going to make a play on me, and I figured (Ezekiel) Ansah was behind him somewhere. I was just looking for the 40-yard line as a launching point, and wanted to make sure I got some air under that ball.”

Rodgers got plenty of air under the ball. It sailed through the air for about four-and-a-half seconds.

“I’ve never been on this side of something like that,” Barclay said. “I was on the wrong side during my rookie year (at Seattle in 2012). To be part of something like that, it was one of the craziest, exciting moments in my football career. We blocked our butt off on that play. To see Aaron throw a spiral that long and watch Rich go up, it was awesome.”

The Packers opened the game without Bulaga and right guard T.J. Lang, then lost center Corey Linsley in the second quarter. That meant the Packers roared back from a 20-point deficit with three of their five starting offensive linemen out of action. It wasn’t pretty – Barclay gave up two sacks to Devin Taylor – but they got the job done.

“I think it definitely shows a lot of these guys put their work in and, whenever your name’s called, you have to be ready to go,” Barclay said. “Coaches do a good job of getting us ready. We’ve got a great group of O-linemen here. We’re deep. We pride ourselves in that. We just have to get the job done every week.”

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.

Packer Report Top Stories