On Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions with the a 61-yard Hail Mary, the longest game-winning Hail Mary that also ended the game in NFL history. It has to be seen to be believed:
This insane play wasn't just dumb luck. Here's how it went down.
With just under nine minutes to play in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game between the Lions and Packers, Detroit kicker Matt Prater made a 34-year field goal that gave his team a 20-0 lead. In a disappointing season for a perennially disappointing franchise, things were momentarily looking up. And then the rest of the game happened.
After a furious comeback that left them down two, the Packers had the ball with six seconds left, enough for one play, and 79 yards to go to score. That’s too long for a Hail Mary, so they attempted a wild lateral-filled scamper toward the end zone. It didn’t work. After a few laterals, the ball ended up with Aaron Rodgers who was tackled to end the game. Lions win?
No. There was flag, and in the 2015 NFL season, all flags come with a Michigan-sized serving of controversy. Lions defensive lineman Devin Taylor was called for grabbing Rodger's facemask, moving the Packers 15 yards closer to the end zone and allowing them one untimed play, which is what happens when there's a defensive penalty and the clock's at 0:00. The controversy? Because Taylor didn’t really grab Rodger’s facemask.
A bad call, to be sure, but not one that doomed the Lions. The Packers still had to score a touchdown from their own 39. The odds of that happening are about the same as the odds the Lions would win this game in the first place. A Hail Mary was coming. That was obvious to everyone but Detroit's coaches, who called a defense that sent only six defenders to the end zone. And none of them were receiver Calvin Johnson, who's capable of out-jumping pretty much everyone in the NFL.
Let's watch it again:
As dejected Lions fans say when their team defies the odds and wrests defeat from the jaws of victory, Lions gonna Lion.
Photos by Leon Halip / Getty Images