Anatomy of a Play
The outcome of one the most-critical games of the season was up in the air – Week 17, the now-legitimate Detroit Lions at Lambeau, winner takes the North Division, and secures a first-round bye and at least one home playoff game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had left the first half after aggravating the calf injury on a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, an injury first suffered at Tampa Bay in Week 16. Green Bay struggled for a three-and-out series to start the second half under new Patriots quarterback Matt Flynn.
But Rodgers buoyed hopes when he walked out of the tunnel early in the second half, after Flynn was sacked on third down. Rodgers would toss another touchdown to Cobb, who launched himself headlong between three Lions defenders to cover the final few of the 13 yards needed.
It’s 21-21 early in the fourth quarter, soon after the Lions had blocked a Mason Crosby field goal. The Packers got the ball back on the Detroit 42 on the next play when Morgan Burnett recovered a bad Matthew Stafford/Joique Bell exchange.
The Packers hit the no-huddle, and marched down the field, aided by two personal foul penalties as the Lions reverted to old habits. Ndamukong Suh’s infamous “Was there somebody behind me?” rockin’ two-step tacked on 15 yards and DeAndre Levy’s facemask on tight end Richard Rodgers at the Lions’ seven pushed the ball half the distance to the goal line. Running back Eddie Lacy powered to the one-yard mark, setting up this month’s…
But now for the required replay for any scoring play or turnover. This one is obviously close, because it takes much more than rubber-stamp approval. Rodgers – on an island despite being in a stadium filled with nearly 70,000 fans – stretches out his bad leg as time begins to drag.
Head coach Mike McCarthy agrees, and takes one last look at a rerun of the play that put the Lions is deep trouble. A intentional grounding safety caused by pressure on Stafford from Datone Jones would provide the final Green Bay points in the 30-20 triumph. Detroit would proceed to lose a controversial wild-card game in Dallas, while the Packers would defeat the Cowboys the next week at home to reach the NFC Championsip game.