Cleat Geeks

Motor City Miracle

GreenBayFlagIn a game that history may remember as the “Motor City Miracle” the Green Bay Packers emerged from Detroit with a much needed 27-23 win over the Lions on Thursday night at Ford Field. A legitimate argument can be made that this win saves the season. Without it the Packers record slides to 7-5 and they would have lost five of their last six games coming out of the bye week. They would have been looking at the possibility of being a game and a half behind the Vikings depending on the result of Sunday’s game between the Vikings and Seahawks. Instead thanks to the miracle they could have the chance of being back in first place in the NFC North thanks to their control of the head to head tie breaker.

The night however did not begin with such a positive outlook. The Lions jumped on the Packers in the opening quarter 17-0. The Packers offense looked how it has looked for the past month and half. The Packers top two running backs were largely in effective for the majority of the night. Injuries continued to pile up with three of the Packers starting five offensive line-man out of the game with injuries to both starting tackles and their starting center. A first quarter interception from Aaron Rodgers and a great catch down the side line open the door to the Lions scoring two touchdowns in under a minute as the Lions gave the Packers a quick punch on the scoreboard.

peppers2The defense deserves large amounts of credit for making the comeback possible. Having been punched in the mouth in the opening quarter. The defense deserves credit for getting this game stabilized. They allowed the Lions six points following the opening quarter. The defense also did a tremendous job on Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson outside of his spectacular first quarter catch up the sideline in the opening quarter. Johnson was held to three catches for 44 yards on the night. The majority of those yards occurred on the touchdown on the sideline. Even on the touchdown catch there was good coverage on Johnson but he used his size to get in good position and make a spectacular catch. Sometimes you have to just tip your hat to the other guy and that is the case on Johnson’s catch. A final point of credit to the defense goes to their ability to force a critical third quarter turnover. Linebacker Julius Pepper’s got around the edge of the Lion’s line and got to Matthew Stafford and stripped him and forced him to fumble. The fumble was recovered by the Packers and quickly turned into another touchdown to reduce the deficit to one score.

The stabilizing effect of the defense allowed Rodgers and the offense to go to work on what was a 20 point deficit in the middle portion of the third quarter. Rodgers led the Packers on a long third quarter scoring drive. In that drive the offense converted several third downs. Third down conversions have been a big issue and have been the cause of a lot of drives stalling out this season. Production from the tight end position has been another big problem this season. That was also addressed for one night at least as Richard Rodgers had his most productive night since being drafted. The role of the tight end is essential to this offense as it provides an avenue to stretch the defense down the middle of the field. The Packers offense has been looking for anyone to stretch the field either from a wide receiver as a sideline threat or down the middle either from a slot receiver or a tight end. Based on the performance of Richard Rodgers there will now again be hope that he can provide that the remainder of the season due to the absence of Jordy Nelson.RichardRodgers

But with all that being said, the Packers left Detroit as winners largely because one person their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers refused to let them loose. Rodgers hit Davante Adams for touchdown on an absolute bullet to the back of the end zone late in third quarter off the turnover from Peppers. Following a Lion field goal, Rodgers led another scoring drive this time using his feet to cap it. He caught the Lions in coverage and they did not account for him. So Aaron pulled the ball down and took off on a 17 yard scamper to again narrow the margin to one score.

Rodgers would not get the ball back until there were just 23 seconds remaining with no time outs remaining for the Packers. The Packers had time for maybe three plays. They had to use the sideline since they were out of timeouts and would ultimately need a clock stoppage in order to get field goal kicker Mason Crosby into the game for a game winning field goal attempt. Rodgers used the first play trying to go deep up the sideline to Randal Cobb. The Lions defender made a great play and tipped the ball away. Rodgers next went deep to Wisconsin’s own Jarred Abbrederis. From a Packers perspective it appeared there was pass interference on the play but no flags were thrown leaving the Packers with six seconds and no choice but to run a lateral play on the game’s final play.

Don’t just read football on cleatgeeks, listen to it as well as our very own Michael Ballentine gives you the LIVE play-by-play of the Thursday Night game between the Vikings and the Cardinals here!

On that play Rodgers had his facemask grabbed by one of the Lions defenders. There was no time remaining on the clock but games cannot end on a defensive penalty so the Packers got one more play with no time on the clock. The one extra play proved to be one play to many for the Lions.

Aaron Rodgers, Nick FairleyRodgers took the snap from his own 39. He calmly eluded the Lions three man rush and moved up in his drop. He gave his tired receivers a chance to run by hanging on to the ball for nearly eight seconds before throwing from his own 35. He launched it high and far. The ball nearly scrapped the rafters of Ford Field. Few other quarterbacks in the NFL have the kind of arm strength to not only uncork a 60 plus yard throw but to throw it with the kind of height Rodgers put on it. The ball was in the air for an astounding 4.35 seconds. That is a greater hang time then many of the punts or kickoffs in the NFL. That kind of hang time provided tight end Richard Rodgers enough time to basically back into the end zone and box out the lion defenders for the winning score. The job of Richard Rodgers was to be in the end zone in case there was a deflection. There would be no deflection needed on this hail-mary attempt. The throw of Rodgers was far too perfect and the Lions defense was far too out of position in order for that to be necessary. The Packers had their Motor City Miracle and also likely had their season saved by their quarterback who would absolutely refuse to let them loose on Thursday night.

Fast forward to Sunday, the Seahawks hammered the Vikings 38-7. The Packers now move back into first in the division by way of the tie breaker. The Vikings now must travel to play the Cardinals on a short week while the Packers will host the Cowboys next Sunday. So for the immediate future everything is setting up quite well in Packer land. All because their Quarterback created the Motor City Miracle at the last possible moment.


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